NSW Legislative Council Passes Family is Culture Bill
The NSW Upper House has today passed the Government’s Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment (Family is Culture) Bill 2022. The bill seeks to address 14 of the 25 recommendations from the Family is Culture Report published in 2019, which was a damning assessment of the current approach to First Nations child protection and called for broad reform of the sector.
The Government’s bill comes nine months after a Greens bill passed the Upper House but never went to debate in the Lower House.
“This is an important step on the path to reforming child protection to keep First Nations children in Community and on Country.” Greens MLC and First Nations Justice spokesperson Sue Higginson said.
“It’s disappointing that the Government’s bill goes nowhere near far enough in addressing the recommendations from the Family is Culture Report. While the principle of active efforts has been introduced to safely restore children with kin and keep children in Community, the bill doesn’t deliver adequate oversight to ensure that this principle is consistently adhered to.
“The Greens have supported this bill on the basis of it having an early review mechanism built into it - 12 months and reporting within 24 months - in the hope that following that review we can implement further change and more of the recommendations of the Family is Culture Report.
“It is bitter and disappointing that the Government has brought this bill in the 11th hour of this Parliament. We had the opportunity and the obligation to do better, to be more timely, to be more thorough and to make an actual difference to the lives of Aboriginal children and their families and the Government has failed us.
“We’ve worked with the Government and the Opposition to get some important amendments to improve this bill and we plan to keep working to do everything we can to walk with First Nations communities to deliver true reforms that will make a real difference.