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Crime, Legal

INFANT COURT NEEDED IN SECTOR CRYING OUT FOR REFORM

WCMT & UQ 2 mins read

A Churchill Fellow from Victoria says an Australian first specialist Infant Court would introduce a proven, evidence-based innovation to a child protection sector crying out for reform. 

 

Churchill Fellow, Matthew Wilson says each year sees an incremental rise in the number of Australian children being removed from parental care and entering the out-of-home care system.  There are Infant Courts in more than 100 jurisdictions across the United States, which introduce court-based case management rather than outsourcing the child to out-of-home care. 

 

First Nations children experience at least one out-of-home care placement or other supported placement at a significantly higher rate than non-First Nations children, Mr Wilson wrote in his research report Improving the lifelong trajectory of Australian infants who enter out-of-home care through an evidence-based Specialist Infant Court. 

 

The article is jointly presented by The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and The University of Queensland, as part of their partnership to develop the flagship publication Policy Futures: A Reform Agenda. This publication features succinct and timely policy articles written by Churchill Fellows and will be released at the Churchill Policy Room event at Australian Parliament House on 27 June.  

 

The Churchill Policy Room event is part of the Policy Impact Program, the partnership between the University of Queensland and the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to showcase the research and recommendations of Churchill Fellows working in policy reform. 

 

Matthew Wilson received his Churchill Fellowship in 2020. He travelled to the UK and USA to investigate innovative court-based approaches to infants in care and protection proceedings. Matthew has a 30-year history of statutory, clinical and leadership roles across the Victorian child and welfare sector, most recently with the Children’s Court of Victoria. 

 

Quotes attributable to Matthew Wilson 

 

“While infants enter out-of-home care at much higher rates than older children, their rates of discharge from that care were among the lowest for infants and very young children when compared with children in other age groups. 

 

“National and international literature indicates that infants in out-of-home care are more likely to experience developmental delays, adverse physical health and attachment problems. 

 

“It is recommended that Australia’s care and protection jurisdictions invest in evidence-based, solution focussed approaches such as a Specialised Infant Court over traditional adversarial approaches to jurisprudence which fail to contribute to urgent reform within the child protection and child and family welfare sectors.  While a Specialist Infant Court is not an exclusively First Nations focussed initiative, it does hold particular promise to address the significant over-representation of First Nations infants, their families and communities in child protection and out-of-home care systems."


Contact details:

Media contact: Matt Neagle | 0408 207 256 | mneagle@hadvisorsapa.au

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