Safeguarding Children's Welfare: Legal Protection Against Abuse
Task: How does the welfare law in Australia establish legal protection for children against various forms of abuse, including physical, mental, sexual, and neglect, and what are the key principles and legislative frameworks in place to ensure their safety and wellbeing?
The concept of welfare dealt with a broader sense of concept that mainly aimed to ensure the wellbeing of people. Main purpose of the welfare law is to maintain prosperity, wellbeing, comfort, security and safety of the people. Welfare programs can be used to make up welfare of the state by including health, education as well as support the payment system such as age pension, care payment and disability support to maintain the social security and welfare of the people (Brown, 2020). Payments are generally determined by system policies that can provide support to the people who are struggling to achieve the basic requirement and at the disadvantageous conditions that disable them to overcome the adverse situations. The study will mainly emphasize the effective application of welfare law in protecting children from parental abuse.
Reason for the legal protection
Children are vulnerable by virtue of their age and they can be open to harm and abuse due to different circumstances. Society as whole shares the responsibility of protecting children from any type of abuse. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the children is the primary requirement of family members and society to support effective growth. There are multiple reason for providing legal protection to the children, such as,
Physical abuse refers to any type of accidental injury to the child by the parent or caregivers. It can be in the form of the bruises, cuts, burns, welts, along with internal injuries, fractures or the shaking injuries to the babies (Ramaswamy&Seshadri, 2020). Physical abuse can lead to the development of grave effects on the mind and influence the upbringing of the children.
Mental or emotional abuse is another reason that can affect the children's upbringing and it is important to ensure safety of children from any type of emotional abuse. If the children is repeatedly threatened, rejected or frightened that will be considered as emotional abuse. On the other hand, there is also name calling, exposing the children to family violence or putting the child in continuous cold can scar the mentality (Firmin, 2020). Emotional abuse can disable the children from achieving complete wellbeing and develop significant harm to the overall development of a little person.
Sexual abuse is one of the heinous crimes that can be performed against children and it is essential for the daily members to protect children from this type of abuse. Sexual abuse refers to forceful involvement of children in the physical and sexual activity. When adult person of the family or any bigger person uses their power or authoritative position over the child to take part in the sexual activity with or without force is consider as the sexual abuse. There are multiple types of sexual abuse that can be performed against children such as fondling of genitals, oral, vaginal or digital penetration by finger or with any sharp objects, masturbation, exposure to pornography, start of grooming by using the internet. Sexual abuse is considered as the criminal offence and it generate long lasting impact on the children development (Menzies, 2019). It is important to involve immediate intervention to limit the impact of harm.
Violence that occurs within the family members either in the form verbal, non-verbal, physical, psychological or sexual can generate deep impact on the children's mental state. Financial, social or emotional abuse of the family members is also considered as family violence and it is also a criminal offense that needs to be prosecuted. Existence of family violence also interrupted the ability of the members to take care of the children and deprived them from the basic requirements which are necessary for overall physical and mental development.
Neglecting a child's meaning deprived the children from the genuine necessities of life causing significant harm to the wellbeing of the children. Failure to provide adequate amounts of food, shelter, healthcare and supervision can be considered as child neglect as it poses a significant threat to the upbringing of children.
Relevant principle of the Welfare law
The Family Law Act, 1975 is the basis of the Commonwealth legislation that aims to set out the rules and regulation regarding child protection and manage the family proceedings. The law also managed the reporting obligations for the courts staff of family law and set the mechanism that can help in obtaining information from the child protection agencies. According to the legal definition a person who is under the age of 18 is considered a child and requires proper protection from any type of abuse. However, it has been seen that child protection in each state and territory differ from each other as the local needs of the different territories differ. The Supreme Court of each state and territory of Australia holds powers that enable them to make orders to protect the welfare of the children. The National Framework of Children Protection in Australia 2021-2031 set out the key priorities that will help in managing the children's protection across the different jurisdictions (Aifs.gov.au, 2023). The priority groups under the framework are children and families with multiple and complex needs, children and young people and parents with disability who are experiencing disadvantages, children or young people who are experiencing abuse and neglect lastly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who feel disadvantages (Slayter& Jensen, 2019). Involvement of the National framework also helps in developing a national approach to address the issues of the children. Principle of the welfare system across the different state and territory is more or less same and include same guiding principles that focus on the key areas such as,
? Best interest of the children guides’ decision making; Legislation of all the jurisdiction focuses on the best interest of the children and it is considered as the paramount principle in the decision making process. On the other hand, the entire jurisdiction has definite policy provision to guide the decision making process.
? Focus on the early intervention process: It has been seen that all the jurisdictions support the use of early intervention service that prohibit the entry or reentry in the statutory system but delivery of the service varies among the region.
? Encouraging the participation of children and young people in the decision making system: The entire Australian legislation jurisdiction supports the involvement of children and young people in the decision making system (Forslundet al. 2022). It is mainly involved with the consulting and seeking the views of the children on the matters that affect their lives.
? Providing culturally appropriate care and focus on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles: Each jurisdiction is responsible for developing a sense of cultural awareness among the children and forming connections among the indigenous and non-indigenous children. Children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the right to grow the communal sense of belonging and know their place in the family, community and culture. These rights are also recognized by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Application of the law
Australia is part of an agreement developed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) that primarily aims to protect the rights of children and transform the livelihood of each child around the world (Unicef.org, 2023). The convention has set out the age factor and established that until age 18, individuals will be condors as children and it separates them from adulthood. Many of the principles of UNCRC appeared in the Australian child protection legislation. Principle legislation of child protection in Australia is Family Law Act, 1975 (Cth) and Family Law Regulations 1984 that reflect that children should have a voice in matters that concern them and take part in the decision making poems to achieve the best interest (Aifs.gov.au, 2023). On the other hand, the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (schedule 3), supports the rights of children contained in the UNCRC. Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) act also established the guideline for National Children's Commissioner to promote the awareness and encourage in exercising the children rights in every part of Australia. However, the different states of Australia have defined different age criteria that change the definition of child.
State based legislation
Australian Capital Territory
Section 11 of the Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT) defines that a person who is under 12 years age is considered as a child and section 12 defines that a person who is 12 years old or older will not be considered as an adult (Aifs.gov.au, 2023). On the other hand, the Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT) has defined 18 years as the adult age and signifies the duty of the parent and caregivers towards the children.
New South Wales
The Principal relevant act to child protection is the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW) that defines that a person should be considered as a child who is under 16 years of age or a person who is 16 or above 16 years but under 18 years. Section 71(1) of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 No 157 (NSW) has provided the right to the children’s court to take measures that could satisfy the needs of the children and protect them from any type of harm (Tozdanet al. 2019).
The principle relevant act to child protection is Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT) that defines the child age as less than 18 years or in cases where age cannot be proved. Section 20 of the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT), has defined the reason from which the children need to be protected from such as exploitation of children, abandonment and risk of harm (Aifs.gov.au, 2022). Section 14 of the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT) has fiend that wellbeing of children depend on the overall physical, psychological and emotional development and neglecting any part will be considered as child abuse.
From the aforementioned analysis, it has been seen that different states in Australia consider different age in defying children but no state considers individuals less than 18 years as adults that help in providing effective care to the children and protect them from harmful events.
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