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Tasmania to overhaul child services, protection laws

Tasmania’s Hodgman Government has acknowledged the rights of children ahead of new legislation determining the role of the Commissioner for Children that will be tabled this month.

The new legislation will expand the role of the commissioner. Children and young people’s views will be incorporated into the commissioner’s work on broader policy discussion.

The government will introduce three initiatives. One is a redesign of the child protection system to implement best practice for protecting the rights of children at all levels. A second is early identification and intervention models for children with autism. Finally, the government will also partner with community sector organisations and human services to deliver better early intervention and prevention.

The Tasmanian minister for human services, Jacquie Petrusma, addressed the importance of acknowledging children’s rights. “We all know, and research and studies and demonstrate it too, that investment, the right interventions and care in the early years of a child’s life are pivotal in shaping and influencing stronger health, social and economic outcomes later in life,” she said in a statement. “As a state, we are working to achieve real change on these issues, and I believe the work being undertaken in my portfolio and across government will help move Tasmania in the right direction.”

Tim Chugg, principal of Giant Steps Tasmania, a school for children with autism, said this was a positive move forward and good recognition for the needs of families with children with autism. “The earlier we can get children diagnosed and eligible for services, the better outcomes we can achieve for children with early intervention of whatever variety the parents choose,” Chugg said. “I think that’s the main thing, if we can get children into services earlier, then we’ve got a much better chance of getting positive outcomes for them.”

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