Children & Young People (Safety) (Inquiry into Foster & Kinship Care) Amendment Act 2021
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Tuesday 18th January 2022: last week CF&KC-SA sent correspondence to the Premier's office requesting clarity regarding the independence of the appointment of Inquirer Dr Fiona Arney. Within our letter we asked for clarity on specifc concerns raised by the Carer community including questions pertaining to co-authorship on research and funding supplied by the Government for research. To date CF&KC-SA has not received a response from the Premier's office. We have persisted in contacting the Premier for a response to no avail.
Our CEO Fiona Endacott, Board Chair Megan Hender and Legal Consultant Jacquie Nevin met Dr Arney last week to confirm the need for independence in the Inquiry, ensuring the submission process is treated with the highest level of confidentiality. The need for anonymity in the submission process is paramount to ensure Carers feel confident and safe to share their experiences with the Inquiry team.
CF&KC-SA is pursuing conversations with the Minister with regard to the provision of adequate support for the Carer community iduring the Inquiry. We want to ensure the submission process is easy to understand and Carers can access support to develop their submissions confidently and concisely.
We are awaiting further information regarding the composition of the Inquiry team as we have been advised it is still in its estalblishment phase.
Thursday 6th January 2022: CF&KC-SA is aware some members have expressed their concern regarding the recent appointment of Dr Fiona Arney as Inquirer on 23rd December 2021.
In response to these Carer concerns, The Hon. John Darley MLC convened a meeting with Dr Arney to discuss the Inquiry on 30th December 2021. The meeting was attended by two representatives from our organisation, two representatives from The Carer Project, Ms Belinda Valentine and Mr Ted Lee (a member of Mr Darley’s staff). Dr Arney submitted herself to be questioned by all those present.
Our organisation came away from the meeting with confidence in the skills, knowledge and experience of Dr Arney. Since this meeting, additional questions have been raised by some Carers regarding independency of the appointment. As a result, we contacted the Premier today to seek additional clarity regarding these concerns. We will update members as a priority when a response is received from the Premier's office.
We are committed to ensuring all South Australian Foster & Kinship Carers have faith in the Inquiry and they can trust the process is run independent from the Department for Child Protection. We have called for these concerns to be heard, respected, resolved and responded to by government at the earliest opportunity, and for this to occur before the Inquiry is formally underway.
Thursday 23rd December 2021: Today CF&KC-SA received confirmation from Minister Sanderson that Dr Fiona Arney, former Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection, has been appointed as the independent reviewer to lead the inquiry into foster and kinship care.
Minister Sanderson stated "Dr Arney has considerable experience as an independent expert advisory role and is well placed to conduct the inquiry. She has significant national and international experience in child protection spanning two decades and has served on multiple royal commissions and independent oversight bodies".
The Minister informed that the inquiry will commence on 8th January 2022.
Further details about the process for submissions will be available in the new year.
Monday 20th December 2021: The Inquiry Bill was assented by the Governor for South Australia on Thursday 9th December 2021, meaning it is now legislation. The Inquiry will commence one month after this date, as the 9th January 2022. The Inquiry must be completed within six months of the Bill becoming an Act, being the 9th June 2022. Foster & Kinship Carers will be provided the opportunity to provide "submissions" during this time frame.
The legislation states the Inquiry must be conducted by a person who is independent of the Department for Child Protection and not involved in the administration, operation or enforcement of the Act.
CF&KC-SA communicated today with Government members the need for the Inquiry to be viewed as independent by the public and the person appointed to the role of Inquirer must also be independent.
We anticipate the Inquirer will be appointed within the week.
For further information please register for the Carer Inquiry mailing list below.
Thursday 16th December 2021: The 1st December 2021 saw the Children and Young People (Safety) Inquiry into Foster & Kinship Care Bill accepted in the Lower House - a monumental achievement spearheaded by The Carer Project. This Inquiry is slated to begin in early 2022, with Carer input sought by way of submissions. This is a crucial opportunity for the Carer voice to be heard and inform legislative reform.
At the invitation of the Hon John Darley MP, The Carer Project and Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA recently met at Parliament House to discuss a range of strategies to ensure the Carer voice is thoroughly documented in a safe, confidential and consistent manner throughout the Inquiry in 2022.
Our meeting was expertly facilitated by Belinda Valentine to ensure all South Australian Foster & Kinship Carers are informed and supported throughout the process.
We are looking forward to working with The Carer Project and the SA Foster & Kinship Carer community to ensure the Independent Inquiry yields outcomes that will guide the October 2022 full Legislative Review of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act.
We will keep you up-to-date as more information comes to hand.
To register your interest for further information contact The Carer Project or CF&KC-SA:
freecall 1800 732 272
or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org