The Liberal Nationals are calling on the Andrews Labor Government to make family reunifications fairer and more flexible during the COVID crisis.
When children are placed into temporary protection, their parents have up to two years to demonstrate they can resume parenting responsibilities under a Family Reunification Order.
Since March 2020, many parents have been unable to have face-to-face contact with their children due to the Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID restrictions.
Without face-to-face contact, parents fear they’ll lose custody if they’re unable to maintain or re-establish bonds with their children in protection.
As reported in The Age, Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan said:
"The position we’ve taken and put to the government is that the legislation should be amended to allow the Children’s Court to extend reunification orders in cases where it has been hampered by COVID."
It is clear that legislation must be amended to allow the Children’s Court to extend reunification orders where they have been hindered by COVID.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Nick Wakeling:
“The Andrews Labor Government’s refusal to allow parents to have face-to-face contact with their children will do immeasurable damage to many Victorian families.
“These are extraordinary times, but when family reunification is in the best interests of a child, the Andrews Labor Government has a legal and moral obligation to make this happen.
“The Liberal Nationals want to see a fairer and more flexible approach taken to family reunifications during the COVID crisis."