TASMANIA'S Commissioner for Children believes her predecessors acted outside their powers without realising it because of confusing laws.
Commissioner Aileen Ashford said earlier commissioners had carried out certain duties believing it was part of their role, when it was ``outside of the commissioner's powers'' according to her advice from state government. This included:
The first commissioner, who believed she had the power to examine individual complaints about the system.
Ms Ashford's immediate predecessor, who tried to access child protection files as part of an inquiry requested by a minister.
Ms Ashford said they had acted in good faith, and blamed an outdated and poorly written act for the confusion.
``In my opinion, that part of the act setting out the commissioner's functions and powers has, as a result of differing views about its meaning, become unnecessarily complicated and difficult to implement in practice,'' Ms Ashford said.
``This lack of certainty creates the risk that the commissioner will be asked by the minister to do something that is not within power, or will engage in an activity later determined to be outside the commissioner's functions and powers.''
The revelations are contained in a submission from Ms Ashford to a review of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act.
Ms Ashford wants the act overhauled so she has broader and better defined powers. This would include the ability to initiate investigations and access confidential files.
She is also seeking:
A new title of commissioner for children and young people.
A five-year appointment, rather than three.
Resources to carry out her work specified in legislation instead of at the behest of government.
The ability to act independently, or outside the control of the children's minister.