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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1283 asked in the Legislative Council on 30 October 2019 by Hon Nick Goiran

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 30 October 2019

DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITIES — PRISON VISITATIONS

1283. Hon NICK GOIRAN to the Leader of the House representing the Minister for Child Protection:

I refer to the recent revelation that child protection workers took a baby to visit her father in prison despite a restraining order being in place.

(1) Why was the department not aware of the restraining order?

(2) Will the child be subject to further visits to the prison after the current restraining order expires in December?

(3) What is the policy or procedure relating to contact with children in cases when a parent has perpetrated violence against another parent?

(4) To what extent is that policy or procedure varied or different when the parent is convicted of, or in custody pending the outcome of, criminal proceedings for the death of the other parent?

Hon SUE ELLERY replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1)–(4) I make a point not to comment on individual cases, as it is not in the best interests of children or their families. However, as the Minister for Child Protection, I am aware of the recent reports about this matter. I am confident that the Department of Communities is taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of this child. When a restraining order is in place that may impact on the decision-making of a case, legal advice is sought by Communities.

Communities' policy recognises that all children in care should be given opportunities to contact or have access to information about their birth family if it is in their best interest. If a parent has perpetrated violence against another parent, this is taken into consideration, but it is not the single defining factor for whether contact occurs. Other factors need to be taken into consideration, including the safety of the child and the pre-existing attachment between the child and parent or caregiver. Currently, the procedures for contact do not distinguish between children and parents when a parent is convicted of, or in custody pending the outcome of, a criminal proceeding.