What’s good – and not so good – in the draft child safety legislation?

I need you to understand where I have come from and how I am dealing with this situation so that you can understand me when I have a say.

Young person in care

31 January, 2017

The draft Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2016 has been released by the State Government for comment. It updates the Children’s Protection Act 1993 and adds some elements from the Family and Community Services Act 1972. It also enables some initiatives from the Nyland Royal Commission recommendations.  

Once passed it will replace the Children’s Protection Act 1993 as the key piece of legislation governing child protection in this state.

We have analysed the draft legislation and here are the main issues.



  • It is good to see the broad statements of principle and commitments in introductory provisions such as the Parliamentary declaration (s3), the universal duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people (s4), and that the safety of children and young people is paramount (s6).
  • The draft Bill recognises importance of children being informed and listened to in matters affecting them and making sure that their views are represented when decisions are being made. (s55, s54(1) and s75(3))
  • The Aboriginal Placement Principle is retained (s75 (2)(a)) and there are other provisions regarding cultural maintenance and support, although we await the response of the Aboriginal community before reaching any final conclusions.
  • The Charter of Rights is carried over into the new Bill (s11).
  • A Child and Young Person’s Visitor Scheme (ss 104 – 107) is welcome although it is not clear why this is discretionary rather than being a mandatory direction to the Minister s105(1).

Not so good

  • The proposed  capacity for the Chief Executive to “give directions or guidance in relation to a matter to a State authority to which the matter is referred” s28(7) is a a concern.  It would allow the Chief Executive to direct the Guardian in a way that undermines the independence of the Guardian’s office as guaranteed in other legislation.
  • The loss of the child safe environment provisions (currently enacted in s8B of the Children’s Protection Act 1993) means that Governments and NGOs will lack a clear indication of their accountability and duty of care .
  • Also lost are sections 26A and 26B of the Children’s Protection Act 1993 which means female genital mutilation will no longer be a matter warranting explicit attention as a form of child abuse.
  • The Bill will mean that the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection takes over accountability for objectives of the Bill/Act from the Minister.  There is no rationale for this change which will, if anything, confuse the clear line of responsibility for child protection that now flows unambiguously to the Minister.

You can read the detail in the full text of the Guardian’s response to the draft Bill which is available for download.

The Guardian’s response to the draft Children and Young People (Safety) Bill 2016 is available for download.


(c) 2021 Guardian for Children and Young People. Terms & Privacy Policy.

We acknowledge and respect Aboriginal People as the traditional owners
and custodians of the land we live and work on, their living culture and their unique role in the life of South Australia.