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Rebalancing the scales

Access to justice for parents in the Tasmanian child safety system
Access to justice Child protection Child welfare Out-of-home care Parenting and guardianship Courts Families Legal services Tasmania

This report documents the experiences of Tasmanian parents and the lawyers who represent them in the Children's Court, and legal processes associated with the child safety system. The research examines parents' ability to access legal advice, their participation in decision-making processes and to what extent these processes implement the intent of the legislation - family preservation and reunification.

Drawing from a review of reforms in child safety and justice systems across the world, the report makes a series of recommendations about how to improve the experiences of Tasmanian parents and their ability to preserve their family and be reunited with their children.

Key findings:

  • Demand is increasing
  • Access to legal representation is problematic
  • Going to Court was commonly described as isolating, stressful and lonely
  • Administrative processes, procedures and timeframes associated with making decisions in the Children's Court erect barriers to a parent’s ability to participate and to achieving the goals of the legislation – family preservation and reunification
  • There is a high level of dissatisfaction amongst parents and lawyers
  • Across the English-speaking world, child safety systems are dealing with similar issues and introducing reforms to improve the experiences of families and reduce the numbers entering the OOHC system
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