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SA Passes New Child Safety Laws

Children will have the right to be heard in court and speak privately with a judge under new child safety laws passed by the South Australian parliament.

Foster carers will also be given greater recognition for the role they play in ensuring the well-being of children at risk.

"The new legislation passed today puts children at the centre of everything we do and gives them a stronger and louder voice in decision-making that impacts them," Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson said on Tuesday.

"Carers will also receive greater recognition for the vitally important role they play in the health, wellbeing and safety of some of our most vulnerable children."

The new laws follow a string of child abuse scandals in South Australian in recent years, most notably the jailing of notorious pedophile and former state carer Shannon McCoole.

The new laws will allow for children abused, neglected or considered at risk to be more involved in key decisions which affect their future.

They will provide for family conferences, where families can come together to make decisions that will help keep children safe.

The legislation also mandates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children taken into care be placed with a member of their family, a member of their community or with another person of Aboriginal or Islander cultural background.

"We, unfortunately, cannot always prevent abuse and neglect and we cannot always predict where abusive behaviour will occur but these new laws will put in place greater powers and protections to make sure the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people in our state is our top priority," Ms Sanderson said.

- AAP

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