Understanding child protection for multicultural communities
In NSW, many people identify as having culturally diverse backgrounds. According to the 2016 Census, more than one in four (27.6 per cent) of the state’s residents were born overseas.
The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) has an ongoing commitment to cultural diversity, and to support people from multicultural backgrounds.
DCJ understands that people have different migration and settlement stories. For some, this can result in challenges that influence their interactions with DCJ and the help they receive.
These challenges include:
- speaking a language other than English
- being isolated and lacking support from family and community networks
- needing time and support to settle and integrate into Australian society
- dealing with trauma and the distress of forced migration
- facing discrimination or racism
There may not be a child protection organisation in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) peoples’ home country as this may not be considered to be a government responsibility to help and support to raise children in a safe place.
This information will help people from multicultural communities understand the child protection and permanency laws in NSW.
In many societies, including ours, children are valued, and their health, safety and wellbeing are important. Protecting children and young people from harm is everyone’s job.
In Australia, each state has laws to keep children safe and to make sure their needs are met. In NSW, this law is the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998
Harm in the form of child abuse and neglect can have lasting and damaging effects on children. For this reason, NSW has laws to protect them. In NSW, the law says DCJ can get involved with families to protect children and young people from harm and to make sure they are growing up safely.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international human rights agreement that states the specific rights of children and young people under the age of 18.
It lists the things that all children have the right to expect in order to live a happy and healthy life, such as:
- being treated with dignity
- being safe from abuse and exploitation
- having a family to care for you
- knowing your identity and culture
- having access to healthcare and education
The Convention has been signed by nearly every country in the world, including Australia. By approving the Convention, Australia has committed to ensure that children’s rights are protected and to help families create an environment where they can grow and reach their potential.
Child protection law and related crimes act
In NSW it is a crime for a parent or other person responsible for the care of a child to fail to provide adequate food, accommodation/shelter, medical aid, nursing and clothing to a child.
It is also an offence in some circumstances to leave a child or young person in a car without proper supervision.
Any harm caused to a child, including physical harm, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional abuse can be considered a crime in NSW.
There are times when DCJ have to remove a child or young person from their parents or carers. This step can only be taken when DCJ has assessed that it is not safe for them to remain in the home and least intrusive options, such an Apprehended Violence Order will not be sufficient to protect the child or young person from harm.
When a child is removed, an application is lodged in Children’s Court. The Children’s Court will then make decisions about where the child/young person should live. To help it make this decision, parents, children and young people and DCJ will be represented by lawyers and are able to submit information to the court to help it make the best decision for the child/young person. The Children’s Court can make care orders about a child, if they think that the child’s basic, physical, psychological or emotional needs are not being met, or are likely not to be met by their parents or primary care-givers
A care order includes an order allocating the parental responsibility for the child to the Minister or another family member.