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Complete overhaul of SA family protection agency

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South Australia’s child protection agency Families SA will be completely overhauled after a royal commission into its failures.

In an interim report, Commissioner Margaret Nyland has recommended a new child protection department be created, splitting those responsibilities from education.

“It is clear from our investigation that Families SA needs to be completely overhauled,” Nyland said on Tuesday.

“The child protection system has not been working for some time and is now in crisis.

“This is not just about a change of departmental location but rather a committed, serious and profound shift in leadership and culture.”

Nyland has spent the past two years investigating child protection after a series of bungles including the failure to identify the abuse by carer Shannon McCoole, who is now serving a 35-year jail term for child sex offences.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the reforms gave Families SA the “best hope for a new start”.

“Awful things do happen in child protection. What we have to do is stop as many awful things happening as we can,” said Weatherill.

Nyland will hand her final report to the government on August 5 after taking more than 300 submissions and hearing from witnesses.

As part of her interim recommendations she called for the new department’s Chief Executive to have established child protection credentials.

The opposition backed the commissioner’s recommendations and said it was a “profound mistake” to merge child protection with the education department in 2011.

The government has started it’s search for a new Chief Executive.


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