NSW government to introduce forced adoptions bill

A snap protest against forced adoptions outside New South Wales Parliament on November 7. Photo: Lanz Priestley

About 100 people joined a snap protest outside New South Wales Parliament on November 7 to oppose the state Coalition government’s attempt to amend the NSW Adoption Act 2000 and allow for a new generation of forced adoptions.

Speakers warned the proposed changes would institutionalise forced adoptions and raise the rate of Aboriginal and poor children being stolen from their families. 

They included Public Sector Association assistant general secretary Tony Wright, Grandmothers Against Removals’ Ann Weldon, Community Legal Centres (CLC) spokesperson Mark Riboldi, NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge, NSW Labor MLA Tania Mihailuk and Darelle Duncan, a survivor of a forced adoption, who told her heart-breaking story of having a son taken away.

Family and community services minister Pru Goward wants to pass the Care and Protection Amendment Bill (2018) to enable the Supreme Court to dispense with the existing requirement that adoption require the consent of the birth parents.  

Currently, if Family and Community Services (FACS) do not agree to return your child, you can appeal to the court. If the law is amended, that appeal won’t be possible if FACS opposes it and can show the child is in a “stable” placement.

The CLC has released a letter calling on Premier Gladys Berejiklian not to pass the bill. It was signed by 24 organisations, including Kinchella Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Women’s Health NSW and Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney.

The letter notes: “Forced adoptions played a central role in the trauma that led to the National Apologies to Survivors of Institutionalised Child Sexual Abuse, the Forgotten Australians, and the Stolen Generations”.

The Guardian reported that if the amendment is passed, “more than 800 Aboriginal children in New South Wales could be adopted without parental consent”. 

There has been a significant rise in state governments stealing children over the past decade. A 2018 Productivity Commission report revealed that over the decade since former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s apology, the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care has almost doubled.

Another rally has been called for outside Parliament on November 14, 2.30pm, when a vote on the bill is expected to occur.