The State Government recently tabled the third annual progress report for the Nyland Royal Commission, detailing significant progress that has been made to better protect and support vulnerable children and families.

Over the past 12 months, agencies across government have continued to work together to address the findings of the Nyland Royal Commission, completing a further 88 recommendations.

There are 92 recommendations remaining, of which 67 are in the implementation phase.

Department for Child Protection Chief Executive Cathy Taylor said it was a positive result and demonstrated a continued whole-of-government commitment to improving outcomes for vulnerable children and young people.

“It has now been three years since Justice Margaret Nyland delivered the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission and recommended wide-ranging reforms to the child protection system,” Cathy said.

“During that time, departments across government have continued to make significant progress to better support vulnerable families, protect children in care and invest in their future.

“Government has also worked hard to ensure there is a specific focus on improving supports for Aboriginal children and their families.

“To build a strong and flexible child protection system we are focusing on providing early support and assistance to families to help them live safely together at home.

“In those cases where this is not possible, we are working hard to ensure children in care have the best opportunity to thrive and reach their potential.”

Key activities highlighted in the third progress report include:

  • trialling intensive family support programs, including one in Northern Adelaide and an Aboriginal-specific service in Western Adelaide (Department of Human Services)
  • expanding the Department for Child Protection’s specialist disability program to support more NDIS plans for children and young people in care
  • consolidating family support services and working towards a new Child and Family Support System (Department of Human Services)
  • introducing stronger, more transparent and effective screening laws through working with children checks (Department of Human Services)
  • setting-up family group conferences to support families to make their own decisions that protect children and young people (starting January 2020)
  • developing an Interagency Therapeutic Needs Panel for agencies to connect and plan for children with complex and specialised needs (SA Health and Department for Child Protection)
  • fully implementing the remaining provisions under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017
  • recruiting more than 30 new case managers with qualifications outside of social work to grow our critical frontline and broaden our knowledge and skills (Department for Child Protection)
  • supporting school staff to undertake graduate qualifications in developmental trauma and engage in the Trauma Aware Schools initiative (Department for Education)
  • growing the Department for Child Protection’s cultural safety through the Aboriginal cultural footprint program, Aboriginal Action Plan, Reconciliation Action Plan and Aboriginal Employment Strategy
  • renewing the across-government commitment to provide priority access to services for children in care through the ‘Investing in their future’ initiative, which replaces Rapid Response.

Cathy said child safety was a shared responsibility, which was reflected in the whole-of-government approach.  

“Protecting children is everyone's responsibility - parents, communities, governments and business all have a role to play,” she said.

“All children have the right to grow up feeling loved, cared for and supported, and that is something we are working very hard to achieve.

“These reforms will take time to have an impact but it is promising to see the progress that has been made and the whole-of-government approach to improving the lives of children and young people.”

When combined with the federal Royal Commission, the State Government is navigating more than 500 child protection recommendations. To address this, the remaining recommendations will be consolidated into a more holistic and connected program of reform over the next year.