- Involvement of First Nations Community Controlled Organisations at all stages of child protection systems.
- Culturally safe assessment and diagnosis for children and families that focus on cultural strengths of First Nations peoples, their families and communities.
- Access to appropriate disability screening in out-of-home care (OOHC) using culturally and linguistically appropriate assessment tools.
- Prioritising early intervention for First Nations children and families, noting that a lack of early support for parents and children with disability can contribute to contact with child protection systems.
- Significant improvements in disability screening processes, particularly for First Nations young people, in order to identify and implement appropriate therapeutic supports and interventions.
- Appropriate training and support for staff and officials in youth detention centres about the needs and experiences of children with disability, including culturally appropriate approaches and trauma-informed care.
- Reportable Conduct Scheme: The report notes that South Australia is one of only three jurisdictions that is yet to establish a reportable conduct scheme, in response to the recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Commissioners recommended that all states and territories establish these schemes, where they are not already in place.
- Improved data collection and reporting: The report highlights ongoing issues with collecting and reporting on disaggregated disability information, including risk factors for abuse and violence. The Commissioners recommend that all governments commit long-term support to establishing the National Disability Data Asset, as a national resource for longitudinal analysis of linked data across service systems – including education, housing, health, NDIS, child protection and justice systems.
- Minimum age of criminal responsibility: the Commissioners recommend improved opportunities for diversion for people with cognitive disability at all stages of the criminal justice process, and concluded that raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years is the most effective way to prevent very young children from ‘experiencing the trauma of detention’.
- Disability awareness in OPCAT monitoring: The report notes the importance of disability awareness for National Preventive Mechanisms performing OPCAT monitoring functions, and called for all states and territories to urgently establish independent monitoring bodies that are complaint with OPCAT requirements.
- NDIS supports and criminal justice: The report raises ongoing issues regarding respective responsibilities of the NDIS and state and territory criminal justice systems. The Commissioners recommend that the relevant rules and agreements be reviewed to resolve areas of where a lack of clarity is a barrier to disability supports, and agree on joint funding mechanisms where issues cannot be resolved.
This report is not just about recommendations for governments, it’s about changing the way we see disability. It’s about making sure that children and young people with disability grow up safe and feeling good about themselves, by building communities that are designed to include them.
That’s why this report is so important, because there are learnings for us all about how we can be a part of making that happen, in our personal, professional and community lives.
There is significant alignment between many of the recommendations in the report and existing advocacy positions I (and my predecessors) have put forward for systemic reform in the child protection and youth detention systems. I encourage the South Australian government to engage deeply with the experiences behind these recommendations, and I look forward to working with government towards implementation – including through involving children and young people with disability in all stages of design and rollout.To read the report – including summaries, recommendations and easy read versions – you can go to the Royal Commission’s website.