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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Women
    The Honourable Margaret Keech

    Bligh Government delivers adoption reform

    Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Women
    The Honourable Margaret Keech

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Bligh Government delivers adoption reform

    Child Safety Minister Margaret Keech introduced into Parliament today new laws that will modernise Queensland’s adoption practice.

    “The Adoption Bill 2009, will overhaul the Adoption of Children Act 1964 and deliver contemporary, fair adoption laws. No longer will we have the most restrictive adoption laws in the country,” Mrs Keech said.

    “Queenslanders have clearly told us the current adoption laws are not fair, we have listened, and we are responding with significant reform.

    “These reforms are in line with the Bligh Government’s vision for a fairer Queensland.”

    Major areas of reform are:

    • Open adoption – for the first time, adoption laws in Queensland will provide for open adoption practice which will allow a child’s birth and adoptive families to know each other from the time of the adoption, or to choose to have a closed adoption arrangement.

    Open adoption practices will make it easier for the Department of Child Safety to support adoption as an option for children in care when reunification to parents is not safe or possibly never will be. In these cases, children and young people need stability and permanency that can sometimes be best provided for through adoption.

    • Adoption orders to be made by the court – adoption has significant legal consequences as it changes a child’s legal identity and legal relationship with his or her birth parents, which makes adoption an appropriate matter to be decided by a court. Queensland is the only Australian jurisdiction where adoption orders are made administratively.
    • Eligibility – eligibility to lodge expressions of interest to adopt will be extended from married couples to de facto couples who have been in a relationship for at least two years.

    Mrs Keech said birth parents and the adopted family will be able to choose the level of involvement with each other and the extent of information shared.

    “Research clearly shows open adoption supports more positive outcomes for adopted children, as they develop a positive image of who they are with the knowledge of both their birth and adoptive parents.”

    “Adoption is a complex and sensitive matter and the Bligh Government engaged extensively with the community in developing adoption reforms.

    “In July last year we expanded the scope for reform to include the law which governs the right for people to access information about others associated with their adoption if it occurred before June 1991,” she said.

    “Current laws restrict adopted people and birth parents who were involved in an adoption prior to 1991 accessing information, if one of them objected to the release.

    “Currently more than 1100 people adopted before June 1991 cannot access their own family history. There are also more than 1600 birth parents who cannot learn the name their children have grown up with, or the names of the adoptive parents who have raised them.

    “It is clear from the consultation that for many people not knowing these facts can lead to a great deal of pain and suffering. The consultation was also clear that some people do not want their information released and are worried about unwelcome intrusion into their lives.

    “As a result of this feedback we will also be reforming the law to ensure equal access to identifying information by all birth parents and adopted persons, regardless of when the adoption took place.

    “We will be maintaining the right for people to state their preference for no-contact which, for these pre-1991 adoptions, will be legally enforceable.

    “The reforms balance people’s right to information about their history, yet maintain the rights of others to privacy.

    “Pending passage through Parliament, it is intended for new adoption laws to be fully implemented by 1 October this year.”

    Mrs Keech said the new laws continued to place the wellbeing and best interests of the child as the paramount principle in considering adoption.

    ENDS

    Media inquiries: Matthew Hyde: 3224 7081.