This section provides you with summary information on some of the key Queensland and Commonwealth legislation relevant to community and disability services workers.
The information in this section is not intended to be comprehensive, nor does it cover all legislation that may be relevant to your role. You are encouraged to seek further detail from specialist staff within your agency and other training resources.
- Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989
- Child Protection Act 1999
- Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Act 2000
- Juvenile Justice Act 1992
- Children’s Court Act 1992
- Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000
- Disability Services Act 1992
- Mental Health Act 2000
- Anti-Discrimination Act 1991
- The Family Law Act 1975 (Cwlth)
The purpose of this Act is to provide for the safety and protection of a person against violence committed or threatened by someone else if a spousal, intimate personal, family or informal care relationship exists between them. This Act has seen an extension of the traditional narrow interpretation of domestic violence to include a range of domestic living arrangements in which intimate relationships occur, e.g. gay marriages, care relationships for elderly people and people with a disability, and serious dating relationships.
The way in which the main purpose of the Act is to be achieved is by allowing a court to make a domestic violence order to provide protection for the person against further domestic violence.
Community and disability services workers are often involved in supporting clients to make an application to a magistrate’s court for:
- a Domestic Violence Order
- a Temporary Protection Order.
The purpose of this Act is to provide for the protection of children.
The key components of the Child Protection Act 1999 are:
- Families have primary responsibility for the care and protection of their children.
- The child’s right to protection is paramount.
- Culturally appropriate services need to be provided.
- The child and family have the right to participate in decisions.
- Parents and children have the right to information.
- Accountability is paramount.
- Voluntary intervention is the preferred means of support.
- Non-voluntary intervention needs to be limited to the degree necessary to protect the child.
The Child Protection Act of 1999 enshrined the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement principle which guides all work with Indigenous children within the child protection system.
It requires support workers to consider and act in the best interests of the child or young person and to report abuse and follow up disclosures of abuse.
This legislation established the Commission for Children and Young People and more recently the Child Guardian, to ensure the wellbeing of all children in Queensland, firstly through employment screening of every person who works with children (Blue card – suitability to work with children clearance), as well as establishing community visitors to ensure the rights of all children in care are upheld.
The objective of the Juvenile Justice Act 1992 is to establish a code for dealing with children who have or are alleged to have committed offences (Section 2b). A child under the Juvenile Justice Act is a person who has not yet turned 17 years of age (Section 140). The Juvenile Justice Act is also a code for the sentencing of children to the exclusion of all other legislation, unless expressly authorised (Section 149).
The aim is to ensure that courts dealing with children do so according to the objective and principles of the Charter of Juvenile Justice Principles – Schedule 1 and Section 3, Juvenile Justice Act.
It is important for support workers to realise that a young person who is under a juvenile justice court order is in the criminal justice system and that the welfare model no longer applies because criminal sanctions have been imposed.
The Children’s Court of Queensland was established by the Children’s Court Act 1992. This court was specifically developed to deal with child offenders. A child charged with an indictable offence (other than a Supreme Court offence) may elect to be committed to the Children’s Court of Queensland.
The Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 regulates police conduct during questioning. Chapter 5 of the Act, ‘Controlled Operations and Controlled Activities’, makes it clear that it is Parliament’s intention that the police comply with the provisions of the Act. Sections 245–68 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 governs police procedure when interviewing a person charged with an indictable offence.
These provisions require the police to:
- allow the person to communicate with a friend or relative
- allow the person to contact a lawyer and to arrange for them to attend the interview.
The police must not question a child unless:
- Before questioning has started, the child has had the opportunity to speak to a support person
- The support person is present during questioning.
The purpose of the Disability Services Act is to affirm the principle that people with disabilities have the same rights as other members of society and to encourage innovative programs and services for people with disabilities. Disabilities covered under this Act include intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment or a combination of impairments that result in a substantial reduction of the person’s capacity for communication, social interaction, learning or mobility.
The Mental Health Act 2000 provides for the involuntary assessment, treatment, and protection of people with a mental illness, while at the same time safeguarding their rights. It also provides for the determination of a person’s mental state when they have been charged with a criminal offence. The Mental Health Act 2000 applies to a child as it does to an adult. Section 61, Chapter 7, of the Act applies to people suffering from mental illness who are involved in criminal proceedings.
This Act ensures that people do not discriminate unfairly on the basis of age, race, gender or religion.
The Family Law Act is an Act relating to Marriage and to Divorce and Matrimonial
Causes and Parental Responsibility for Children, and certain other matters. (It is important that you know how this Act fits with Queensland’s child protection legislation, domestic violence legislation, and juvenile justice legislation relevant to the protection of children.)