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About Child Protection and Child Wellbeing legislation

The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (the Act) establishes the legislative framework governing child wellbeing and providing child protection and out-of-home care services in NSW.

This section provides a summary of the legislative framework that supports child protection and child wellbeing in NSW, including the Keep Them Safe reforms. The Keep Them Safe legislation fact sheet provides a helpful overview of the recent legislative changes.

The objects and the principles of the Act

The objects and the principles of the Act provide direction and guidance in the administration of the Act. The over-riding principle of the Act is that the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children or young people must be paramount in all decisions (section 9). All agencies must work together to achieve this. Other principles include:

  • account should be taken of the culture, disability, language, religion, and sexuality of the child or young person
  • any intervention should be the least intrusive in the life of the child or young person and his or her family that is consistent with the paramount concern to protect the child or young person from harm or promote their development
  • special protection and assistance from the State should be given to a child or young person temporarily or permanently deprived of their family environment
  • as far as possible the name, identity, language, cultural and religious ties of a young person deprived of their family environment should be preserved
  • a safe, nurturing and stable environment should be provided for a child or young person in out of home care
  • the younger the age of a child in out-of-home care the greater the need for early decisions to be made in relation to a permanent placement
  • retention of relationships with significant people is important unless it is contrary to the best interests of the child or young person, and taking into account the wishes of the child or young person
  • where possible, a child or young person who is able to form his or her own views concerning his or her safety, must be given an opportunity to express those views
  • the child or young person should be given information and assistance to participate in decisions
  • the child or young person should be given information about the outcome of decisions concerning them.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander principles

The Act makes special provisions relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families (sections 11-14). The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander principles focus on self-determination and on participation in decision making.

This includes the opportunity to participate in significant decisions that are to be made about an individual child who is Aboriginal in the context of child protection, including the decision to remove a child or young person from the care of their parent or caregiver.

If Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children and young people require out-of-home care placements, these placements must occur in the context of the placement principles.

Fact sheet:

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019
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