South Australian authorities have recently enacted legislation granting police the power to enter homes and remove children in their efforts to quell the spread of coronavirus.
Schedule 2 of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 lists temporary modifications of particular State Laws. Under Part 1, amendments to the Emergency Response Act 2004 are outlined.
The Emergency Response Act 2004 is enacted to “establish strategies and systems for management of emergencies in the State; and for other purposes.”
Section 24-26, which is classified as Division 4 of the Act, lists the powers that may be executed in relation to “declared emergencies.”
Under Section 24A, an emergency is defined as the following:
“An emergency may be declared to be an identified major incident, a major emergency or a disaster whether or not the emergency has previously been declared to be a public health incident or a public health emergency under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011.”
Section 25 discloses and lists all of the various powers that the State Coordinator and Authorised Officers are granted in order to take any necessary action in implementing the state emergency management plan.
This includes the authority to “enter and, if necessary, break into any land, building, structure, or vehicle (using such force as is necessary).”
Under the New COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020, Section 25 of the Emergency Response Act 2004 has been amended to potentially grant police the power to forcibly remove children from their homes.
The additional powers and amendments read as follows:
“Section 25A — Removal of children
(1) Without derogating from section 25, an authorised officer may, for the purpose of ensuring compliance with any direction under that section, remove a child from any premises, place, vehicle or vessel to a place of residence of the child or to a hospital or quarantine facility, as the authorised officer thinks fit (and may, in doing so, use such force as is reasonably necessary).
(2) In this section—
child means a person under 18 years of age;
place of residence includes, in the case of a child who is in the custody, or under the guardianship, of the Chief Executive under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017, any place directed by that Chief Executive.”
The Act has been updated four times since its enactment.