NSW to take babies away from drug-addicted or abused women

THE New South Wales government is considering controversial new laws which could see babies taken away at birth from drug-addicted or abused mothers who refuse to seek help.

Pregnant women who abuse drugs or alcohol will be made to sign a Parental Responsibility Contract ordering them to undergo treatment for the sake of their baby.

If they refuse, or show no intention of complying, the government will be able to remove the child the moment it is born and use the broken contract to immediately start formal proceedings to place the baby in the state's care.

The new legislation will also extend to pregnant woman who suffer domestic violence.

In those cases, the women will be asked to sign a contract ordering them to either leave their partner, move in with a relative or seek help through domestic violence counselling.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward said the changes were designed to put the child first and provide the strongest possible incentive for troubled mothers to turn their lives around.

"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," she said.

The new laws are awaiting final approval from Cabinet before they are submitted to State Parliament.