Mason’s law a lifeline for at-risk children

 

IT WILL become easier to adopt out children with abusive and neglectful parents under new laws introduced into Parliament last night in the wake of Mason Jett Lee's horrific death.

The amendments to the Child Safety Act make it clear that adoption should be genuinely considered if a child cannot be reunited with their parents after two years, except with Indigenous children, where adoption remains a last resort.

The laws will also require audits for all children under the age of three who are in care now to see whether adoption should be pursued.

It follows the scathing report into Mason's death by coroner Jane Bentley, who found child safety officers failed the toddler "in nearly every possible way".

She recommended adoption be routinely and genuinely considered as a suitable permanency option where reunification was unlikely, particularly for children under the age of three.

Eighty-nine children have been adopted in Queensland over the past three years - 29 children in 2018-19, 25 in 2017-18 and 35 in 2016-17.

But about 10,000 children are in out-of-home care.

Mason Jett Lee died in 2016.
Mason Jett Lee died in 2016.

 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said children needed stability and certainty.

"My Government has accepted all six of the deputy coroner's recommendations following the inquest into the shocking death of Mason Jet Lee," she said.

"Findings made by the deputy coroner highlighted the critical importance of stability and permanency for vulnerable and traumatised children who can't live at home safely.

"The changes to the Child Protection Act mean adoption is genuinely considered as an option when assessing a child's long-term needs.

"A stable home is one of part of the stable support many children need."

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said adoption meant different things to different cultures.

"That's why the Bill introduced to Parliament today cements adoption as the least preferred option for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children coming into the child safety system," she said.

The Bill's explanatory notes said adoption was not part of Aboriginal tradition or Islander custom, and may infringe upon the unique cultural rights of Indigenous people, including their connection with families, communities and cultures.

Originally published as Mason's law a lifeline for at-risk children


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