SA-BEST’s priorities are:
- Advocate for and support the re-insertion of the best interests of the child paramountcy principle and the expansion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles into the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017;
- Oppose the adoption from care model proposed by the current government in the Children and Young People (Safety) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020;
- Ensure the full review of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 considers the implications of the shift of power from the Minister to the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection and the growing number of birth to 18 year orders;
- Advocate for the extension of support for young people in care who need it to the age of 25;
- Push for mental health early prevention programs in schools;
- Continue to call for the adequate funding of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the extension of health services (see Our Health policy)
- Support and advocate for healthy eating campaigns for kids as a preventative public health measure; and
- Continue to advocate for free menstrual hygiene products in schools.
SA-BEST is highly proactive in young people and children’s policy and legislative change.
SA-BEST was pivotal in the introduction of “Carly’s Law” - making it an offence for a person over 18 to intentionally misrepresent their age in online communications with minors for the purposes of encouraging a physical meeting or with the intention of committing an offence.
We introduced legislation to ban the use of spit hoods in juvenile detention, for better warning labels on LPG bottles to minimise harm or death from inhalation and mandating drug rehabilitation for young offenders.
SA-BEST will also continue to act to legislate where it will improve the safety and wellbeing of children and young people as a priority.
SA-BEST recognises placing children and young people where connections with family, kin and/or community are maintained is optimal, but appreciate this is not always possible.
We are of the firm view the safety of the child or young person must always be paramount and will always put the best interests of children first.
SA-BEST continues to advocate on behalf of a large number of constituents experiencing difficulties with the Department for Child Protection and guardianship systems, consulting extensively with the Aboriginal Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Guardian for Children and Young People, Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers (SA), Nunga Babies and the Grannies Group, families, lawyers and relevant departmental staff and responsible Ministers to achieve better outcomes for children and young people.
It is a sad fact there are unprecedented numbers of children and young people in care in South Australia - 4695 children aged under 18 years at last count, including 1676 in foster care and 2310 in kinship care.
SA-BEST is extremely concerned at the huge increase in these numbers, along with shocking reports of harm and risk these children have been subjected to, including death while in care and falling pregnant while in care.
Key drivers of this upward trajectory include generational removal and cultural alienation, mental health, family violence and drug and alcohol issues, as well as a lack of access to early intervention and wrap around services to support children, young people and their families with these and other challenges.
The disproportionate overrepresentation of Aboriginal children and young people in these figures is at crisis point.
SA-BEST is working in collaboration with the Nunga Babies Watch and the Grannies Group to advocate for this most vulnerable cohort, with particular focus on adherence to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles.
We also hold genuine concerns victims of domestic violence are having their children removed from their family rather than the victims being provided with the support and protective services they need to break the cycle, keep them safe and intact as a family unit with people who love and care for them.
Adoption From Care
SA-BEST supports adoption generally where there are extensive checks and safeguards for parents, adoptive parents and most importantly the children being adopted.
We do not support the adoption from care model proposed by the government in the Children and Young People (Safety) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020 which dispenses with the consent of parents.
We will strongly advocate for the inclusion of all stakeholders in any consultations on adoption law, including culturally and linguistically diverse communities, foster and kinship carer groups and indigenous groups with lived experience such as the Nunga Babies and Grannies Group.
Supporting foster and kinship carers
SA-BEST appreciates and respects the invaluable role foster and kinship carers play in the lives of thousands of children and young people’s lives.
Unfortunately, the same issues are arising over and over again for carers when it comes to the Department for Child Protection - poor communication, lack of support services, procedural unfairness and slow or no reimbursements for out-of-pocket expenses for foster and kinship carers.
Based on these accounts, SA-BEST voted in support of the Children and Young People (Safety) (Inquiry into Foster and Kinship Care) Amendment Bill 2021 to cause an immediate independent inquiry into foster and kinship care.
One in four children in Australia are overweight or obese. Two in three children don’t get enough physical activity, and most don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables.
Predatory junk food advertising is setting our kids up for a lifetime of bad habits and preventable ill-health. Urgent measures are needed to restrict children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink marketing, branding and sponsorships.
SA-BEST strongly supports a legislated ban on the advertising of unhealthy food and drinks on state owned asset.
We further support a revision of the Right Bite strategy to set a mandated minimum of 60% of green category foods on school menus and a ban on red foods.
See also our Health, Education and Law and Order policies as they pertain to children and young people.