Permanency for children
On 1 March 2016, amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 came into effect to address harmful delays in decision-making for children who cannot live with their families due to abuse and neglect.
The new family reunification order sets a time limit of 12 months for parents of children in out of home care to address the protective concerns. In some circumstances, where parents are addressing the issues and reunification is likely to occur, the time can be extended by a further 12 months. If family reunification has not been achieved within 12 or 24 months, permanent alternative care arrangements are made for the child.
Parents whose children are subject to a family reunification order may have conditions placed on that order, or a case plan which requires them to attend alcohol and other drug assessment and treatment, or other services.
Ensuring timely access to services for these families will be critical so that parents have the opportunity to address issues in a timely manner to improve the likelihood of reunification with their children.
For more information and to download the Permanency for Children factsheet, visit the department's website.
In April 2016, the Victorian Parliament passed the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015, which enables Victorians to legally access medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances.
The Bill creates a legal framework to enable the manufacture, supply and access to safe and high quality medicinal cannabis products in Victoria. Children with severe epilepsy will be given first access to medicinal cannabis from early 2017.
The Government is establishing the Office of Medicinal Cannabis to oversee manufacturing and all clinical aspects of the medicinal cannabis framework. The Office will work with clinicians, doctors and general practitioners to help them understand their role in prescribing medicinal cannabis, and with patients and families to educate them about medicinal cannabis and eligibility for the scheme.
The Government is also establishing an independent medical advisory committee to provide advice on matters including product availability, patient eligibility and other clinical matters.
For more information and to download the Medicinal Cannabis factsheet, visit the department's website.
New Health Complaints Act 2016
In April 2016, the Parliament of Victoria passed the new Health Complaints Act. The department has prepared a factsheet for alcohol and other drug service providers to help them understand how the changes affect them.
Under the new legislation, the Health Complaints Commissioner has powers to investigate complaints and take action against registered and unregistered health practitioners, including public and private alcohol and other drug service providers and individual practitioners.