The Commonwealth government is years behind Europe in adoption research and practices and they are silencing adoptees in Australia who have lived experience of adoption, according to Adoption Rights Australia (ARA).
Head of the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry on Local Adoption, Julia Banks MP, refused to allow Adoptee groups and ARA members to contribute to the inquiry in person. ARA members were told that the past practices under which they were adopted had no relevance to the proposed new adoption policies for 21st century Australia.
ARA Adult adoptees were advised that the content of their submissions would be censored or their names withheld. The committee’s justification for this has silenced the lived experiences of adult adoptees with much to contribute to government policies and legislation around the well-being of both current and future adoptees. According to an ARA spokesperson, adult adoptees from the era of closed forced and past open adoptions (mandated in Victoria since 1984), were simply advised that adoption isn’t ‘like that anymore’. ARA disagrees with this sentiment.
Recommendations in the recently published parliamentary report Breaking Barriers: A National Adoption Framework for Australian children state:
- that the Commonwealth work with state and territory governments to achieve agreement, through the Council of Australian Governments, to develop and enact a national law for adoption;
- adoption should be considered before long term fostering or residential care;
- and, decisions on whether a child may be able to safely return to their parent(s) must be made within a legislated timeframe, such as six months of an interim care order for children under two years old, or within 12 months for older children’.
Implementation of such policies will place many vulnerable persons in exactly the same legal position as current adoptees who lost their families to the adoption system of the 20th century. Alternatives to adoption, such as legal guardianship, permanent care orders and family stewardship programs, offer vulnerable children protection while preserving their rights to their identity through their original birth certificates and their ongoing legal and physical connection to their biological families.
For further information and/or comment, please contact ARA Inc Spokesperson ‘Elizabeth Russell’ on 0421 645 42