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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Financial support to grandparent carers

The Senate Community Affairs References Committee is currently inquiring into the needs of grandparents who take primary responsibility for raising their grandchildren when parents are unable or unwilling to do so. An important issue raised by many grandparents in this situation is the stark difference between levels of financial support available to those whose caring role is formal and those caring under informal arrangements. There are also substantial differences between jurisdictions. Grandparents as carers According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, in 2009-10, there were 16,000 grandparent families in which the grandparents were guardians or main carers of resident children a... Read more...

National Forced Adoptions Apology

In June 2012 the Attorney-General announced that the Government would offer a national apology to those affected by forced adoption practices in Australia. A Forced Adoption Apology Reference Group was subsequently established in August 2012 to provide advice on the wording and timing of the apology and on 19 December 2012 the Australian Government announced that the formal apology would be conducted on Thursday 21 March 2013 at Parliament House in Canberra.All of the states have already offered apologies to women and their families affected by past adoption practices. In October 2010, Western Australia was the first state to offer an apology to mothers whose children had been removed and gi... Read more...

Australia's first National Children's Commissioner

On 25 February 2013 the Government announced the appointment of Australia's first National Children's Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell. The position of National Children’s Commissioner will sit within the Australian Human Rights Commission and commences on 25 March 2013. In its announcement, the Government outlined the Commissioner's legislative mandate to 'focus on vulnerable or at-risk groups of children, such as children with a disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, homeless children or those who are witnessing or subjected to violence'. In A picture of Australia’s children 2012, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) noted that while many of Australia’s... Read more...

Priests, Penitents, Confidentiality and Child Sexual Abuse

In the light of Prime Minister Gillard’s announcement of a Royal Commission into institutional responses to the sexual abuse of children there has been a particular focus on the role of the ‘confessional seal’. The Roman Catholic practice whereby communications made in the confessional are treated as absolutely confidential has been hotly debated, in particular whether this doctrine forms an inappropriate impediment to the appropriate investigation and treatment of cases of abuse.The issue of evidence of child sexual abuse within the confessional seal arises in three different contexts: mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse, evidence to be given in legal proceedings, and evidence befo... Read more...

A Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual assault

General awareness of the levels and different forms of child abuse and assault has heightened in recent years. In response to growing levels of concern, on 12 November 2012, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced the Government’s intention to establish a Royal Commission specifically examining ‘institutional responses to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse in Australia’. The terms of reference are yet to be determined, but the recently released consultation paper states that the Royal Commission will be asked to identify what can be done to prevent child abuse in the future, and where it does occur, that organisational responses are just and supportive of survivors. The pap... Read more...

National Child Protection Week

  The week beginning 4 September 2011 marks the start of National Child Protection Week. The Australian Government’s National framework for protecting Australia’s children 2009–2020 acknowledges that child abuse and neglect rates have ‘more than doubled over the past 10 years and the number of children subject to child abuse and neglect remains unacceptably high’. Globally, child protection issues are complex and the consequences for the world’s children of abuse, exploitation and neglect are immense. The scale of the problem globallyThe United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that at least 300 million children are subjected to abuse and that violence may affect as many as 1.5 bi... Read more...

Child protection income management in the Northern Territory

The Gillard Government recently announced that child protection income management was being rolled out in the Northern Territory (NT). Under this program, child protection workers in the NT will be able to refer parents to Centrelink for compulsory income management when children are being neglected or are at risk of neglect. Provision for child protection income management to be introduced into the NT was created through changes  to the NT Emergency Response earlier this year.Income management refers to arrangements whereby a percentage of the income support and family payments of certain people is set aside to be spent only on ‘priority goods and services’ such as food, housing, clothing, ... Read more...

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