Family conferences key recommendation of care and protection committee report

The importance of family conferences to empower vulnerable families at risk of entering the care and protection system has been recognised by an ACT Assembly committee. 

The Health, Ageing and Community Services committee today tabled a report on Child and Youth Protection Services, recommending family group conferencing become a legal entitlement for all families before intervention and removal of children by care and protection authorities.

As part of a suite of reforms for improving the ACT’s troubled care and protection system, the Canberra Liberals have already made a clear commitment to make restorative family conferences a legal entitlement for all at-risk families.

The Shadow Minister for Families, Youth and Community Services Elizabeth Kikkert said this family-led decision-making process would help soften the adversarial relationship between families and the government.

“The government needs to stop making decisions for families and start making decisions with families – including listening to children’s voices,” Mrs Kikkert said.

“Families are the answer to many of the systemic issues we continually see in the ACT’s care and protection system.

“I thank the committee for the important work they have done to make the care and protection system more transparent and accountable,” Mrs Kikkert said.

While family conferencing has had enormous success in places like New Zealand, the Canberra Liberals recognise the sad reality that there will be some families for which this won’t be suitable. On these occasions, appropriate steps must be taken to ensure the safety of these vulnerable children.