Saying sorry means we try not to do it again

Changes to Child Protection Law

The NSW Government  recently introduced a Bill to amend child protection law in NSW.

What does the new law mean?

  1. Alternative Dispute Resolution is generally required to be offered before FaCS can seek care orders from the Children’s Court, however there are exceptions.
  2. In most cases, decisions about permanent placement of children, (for example, restoring children to their families or adoption) are to be made within 2 years.
  3. There is an increased emphasis on court’s power to make guardianship orders by consent and a requirement that parties receive independent legal advice about the ‘nature and effect of the proposed order’.
  4. The court will have the power to initiate a progress review if it is not satisfied that there are proper arrangements in place after reviewing a section 82 report (report on the suitability of arrangements concerning parental responsibility), which can include inviting a party to give evidence and make submissions.
  5. Additional barriers to seeking a variation of care and protection orders.


In October 2017, the Department of Family and Community Services released a Discussion Paper – Shaping a Better Child Protection System. Women’s Legal Service NSW made a submission.

In September 2018, we endorsed an Open letter to Minister Goward calling for the release of an Exposure Draft Bill and further consultation.

On 23 October 2018, the Bill and a brief report summarising the outcomes of the consultation were tabled in Parliament. The report indicates the majority of submissions opposed any changes to seeking to vary a care and protection order (Section 90). Some other changes that are proposed were not flagged in the Discussion Paper.

Read WLS NSW submission response to the Discussion Paper (30 November 2017)

Read the FaCS Report on the outcome of consultations (October 2018)

After the Bill was introduced into Parliament, we endorsed an Open Letter to the Premier about forced adoptions. As the Open letter states “Saying Sorry means we try not to do it again.”

Concerned by the lack of meaningful consultation, we called on the government to refer the bill to Parliamentary Committee for a thorough review.

The Bill has now passed through both Houses of Government and will soon become law.

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