(1) For the purposes of this Act the best interests of the child must always be paramount.
(2) When determining whether a decision or action is in the best interests of the child, the need to protect the child from harm, to protect his or her rights and to promote his or her development (taking into account his or her age and stage of development) must always be considered.
(3) In addition to subsections (1) and (2), in determining what decision to make or action to take in the best interests of the child, consideration must be given to the following, where they are relevant to the decision or action—
(a) the need to give the widest possible protection and assistance to the parent and child as the fundamental group unit of society and to ensure that intervention into that relationship is limited to that necessary to secure the safety and wellbeing of the child;
(b) the need to strengthen, preserve and promote positive relationships between the child and the child's parent, family members and persons significant to the child;
(c) the need, in relation to an Aboriginal child, to protect and promote his or her Aboriginal cultural and spiritual identity and development by, wherever possible, maintaining and building their connections to their Aboriginal family and community;
(d) the child's views and wishes, if they can be reasonably ascertained, and they should be given such weight as is appropriate in the circumstances;
(e) the effects of cumulative patterns of harm on a child's safety and development;
S. 10(3)(f) amended by No. 61/2014 s. 6(1).
(f) the desirability of continuity and permanency in the child's care;
S. 10(3)(fa) inserted by No. 61/2014 s. 6(2).
(fa) the desirability of making decisions as expeditiously as possible and the possible harmful effect of delay in making a decision or taking an action;
(g) that a child is only to be removed from the care of his or her parent if there is an unacceptable risk of harm to the child;
(h) if the child is to be removed from the care of his or her parent, that consideration is to be given first to the child being placed with an appropriate family member or other appropriate person significant to the child, before any other placement option is considered;
(i) the desirability, when a child is removed from the care of his or her parent, to plan the reunification of the child with his or her parent;
(j) the capacity of each parent or other adult relative or potential care giver to provide for the child's needs and any action taken by the parent to give effect to the goals set out in the case plan relating to the child;
S. 10(3)(k) amended by No. 52/2013 s. 5.
(k) contact arrangements between the child and the child's parents, siblings, family members and other persons significant to the child;
(l) the child's social, individual and cultural identity and religious faith (if any) and the child's age, maturity, sex and sexual identity;
(m) where a child with a particular cultural identity is placed in out of home care with a care giver who is not a member of that cultural community, the desirability of the child retaining a connection with their culture;
(n) the desirability of the child being supported to gain access to appropriate educational services, health services and accommodation and to participate in appropriate social opportunities;
(o) the desirability of allowing the education, training or employment of the child to continue without interruption or disturbance;
S. 10(3)(p) repealed by No. 61/2014 s. 6(3).
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(q) the desirability of siblings being placed together when they are placed in out of home care;
(r) any other relevant consideration.
Division 3—Decision-making principles