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CHILD PROTECTION REVIEW (POWERS AND IMMUNITIES) BILL\TOC\2\CHILD PROTECTION REVIEW (POWERS AND IMMUNITIES) BILL
\IND\Speech:nn:The Hon. S.W. KEY The Hon. S.W. KEY (Minister for Social Justice) obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to facilitate the Child Protection Review by conferring powers and immunities. Read a first time.
The Hon. S.W. KEY: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
The government has established a Child Protection Review to examine the state's child protection laws and to develop strategies to improve the way in which the government responds to the needs and welfare of children. The review will look at child protection policy and practice within government departments and government funded services as well as criminal processes and legislative frameworks. The review has made a public call for submissions and has received 380 registrations of interest in making a submission. A large number of registrations of interest have come from private individuals.
The purpose of this bill is to facilitate the conduct of the review by ensuring that people are not prevented from providing information to the review by confidentiality provisions in legislation. The Children's Protection Act 1993 has a number of confidentiality provisions that could prevent people from providing information that is relevant to the review. For the review to be effective, it is important that people can provide relevant information to it.
#45 The bill also provides that certain personal information provided to the review will be kept confidential in line with the Children's Protection Act 1993. The bill provides an ability for the reviewer, Ms Robyn Layton QC, to determine that other information should be kept confidential if she considers it appropriate to do in the interests of justice or to prevent hardship or embarrassment of any person. There are exceptions to provide when such information can be divulged.
Finally, the bill provides people involved in the conduct of the review with the same protections, privileges and immunities as those applying to a judge of the Supreme Court. It also provides the same protection to people who provide information to the review as they would have if they were a witness in the proceedings before the Supreme Court.
I commend this bill to the house, and I seek leave to insert the detailed explanation of clauses in Hansard without my reading it.
Explanation of clauses
Clause 1: Short title
This clause is formal.
Clause 2: Interpretation
This clause sets out the definitions of terms used in the Act.
Clause 3: Procedure
This clause sets out procedural powers that may be exercised by the person appointed to conduct the Review.
Clause 4: Provision of false information
This clause makes it an offence to provide false information to the Review and imposes a maximum penalty of $10 000 for doing so.
Clause 5: Confidentiality and disclosure of information
This clause sets out the confidentiality and disclosure provisions that are intended to safeguard the interests of children whilst allowing for as free a flow of information as possible for a proper Review to be conducted. Subclause (1) permits a person to provide information to the Review where such disclosure may otherwise be prohibited (for example under section 58 of the Children's Protection Act 1993). However, under subclause (2), the information obtained must not be further disclosed or published if
×it relates to a child, its guardian or other family members or a person alleged to have abused, neglected or threatened a child; or
×it identifies a person who has notified the Department of child abuse or neglect; or
×the person appointed to conduct the Review considers it necessary in the interests of justice or to prevent hardship or embarrassment to any person.
Subclause (3) sets out the situations in which information may be further disclosed or published, namely
×for the purposes of the Review or a report to the Minister; or
×if the person to whom the information relates (not being a child) has given consent to its disclosure or publication; or
×to a person engaged in the administration of the Children's Protection Act 1993 or a similar Act of a State or Territory or of the Commonwealth; or
×to the police; or
×if the information has evidentiary value in a court (subject to restrictions set out at subclause (4)); or
×if the information has been made public.
Subclause (4) requires evidence of information referred to in subsection (2) that is to be used in proceedings before a court to be adduced only with leave of the court. Unless leave is granted, such information cannot be sought, or if sought, cannot be required to be produced in answer.
Subclauses (5) and (6) impose further restrictions on the use in court of evidence of information referred to in subsection (2), namely, the court may not grant leave for such information to be adduced unless the court is satisfied of its significance to the proceedings and to the proper administration of justice or the person (not being a child) to whom the information relates consents to the evidence being admitted. Subclause (6) provides for further restrictions relating to applications for leave to adduce such evidence.
Subclause (7) makes it an offence for a person to contravene subsection (2), the maximum penalty for which is $10 000.
Subclause (8) imposes a requirement on authorised persons to take all reasonable steps not to identify particular children in any report to the Minister.
Subclause (9) enables the Minister or the Chief Executive, if of the view that it would be in the public interest, to publish a report containing information otherwise restricted by the provisions of the section, unless such publication would be contrary to a law other than the Act.
Subclause (10) provides that terms used in the Act, if defined in the Children's Protection Act 1993, will have the same meaning as in that Act.
Clause 6: Privileges and immunities
This clause provides that authorised persons, persons providing information to authorised persons, and legal practitioners representing persons in connection with the Review have the same protections, privileges and immunities as their respective counterparts in the Supreme Court.
Terms of Reference for Review of Child Protection in South Australia
The Schedule sets out the terms of reference for the Review and is referred to in the definition of `Review' in clause 2.
Ms CHAPMAN secured the adjournment of the debate.