Pregnant women who abuse drugs or alcohol will be made to sign a Parental Responsibility Contract (PRC) ordering them to undergo treatment. If they refuse, the government will have the power to remove the child the moment it is born.
The new legislation will also apply to pregnant women who live with a physically abusive partner. They too must sign a PRC which states they must either leave their partner, move in with a relative, or seek domestic violence counselling before the child is born.
The old PRC scheme needed fixing. It allowed pregnant women to use drugs or alcohol right up until the baby was born and the results are heart breaking. They cry in agony for hours and their tiny bodies shake with tremors.
Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward said "I make no apologies for taking this bold new approach to child protection which ensures we are putting the best interests of the child at the centre of every decision we make."
"Whether it is raising the stakes on early intervention or improving access to open adoption, these reforms are about providing families and caseworkers with the support and tools they need to ensure vulnerable children have a safe home for life."
The new laws are awaiting final approval from Cabinet before they are submitted to Parliament.