The Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA) gives authority to the relevant Department (the Department for Child Protection) to intervene when a child is at risk. This intervention can take several forms, ranging from referring families to appropriate support and services to seeking an order to remove a child from their parents’ care. However, in line with the objects of the Act, removal of a child should be done as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted or are not appropriate in the circumstances.
When is a child defined as being ‘at risk’?
The Act recognises three types of abuse and/or neglect:
A child is considered to be at risk if there is a significant chance they will suffer serious harm to their physical, psychological or emotional well-being and they do not have proper protection [see s 6(2)]. This risk may be as a result of abuse, neglect or the inability of a parent or guardian to care for and protect a child or to exercise supervision and control over the child. In making an assessment about whether a child is at significant risk or has been abused or neglected attention must be had not only to the current circumstances of the child’s care but also to the history of the child’s care and the likely cumulative effect on the child of that history [s 6(4)].
If a parent is unable (or unwilling) to provide this then the child can be considered to be at risk. A child under the age of 15 with no fixed address will also meet this criterion, as will a child of compulsory school age who has been persistently absent from school without satisfactory explanation.
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