National Apology Needed Over Australia’s Forced Adoptions
1 March 2012 at 2:17 pm
The Senate inquiry into Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices in Australia wants State and Federal Governments and non-government institutions to make a formal apology acknowledging that the practices of forced adoptions were illegal or unethical.
The Senate has released its findings in Canberra making dozens of recommendations including financial assistance to provide professional help services and a national framework to address the consequences of former forced adoption be developed by the Commonwealth, states and territories.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government issue a formal statement of apology that identifies the actions and policies that resulted in forced adoption and acknowledges, on behalf of the nation, the harm suffered by many parents whose children were forcibly removed and by the children who were separated from their parents.
The committee goes further to recommend that state and territory governments and non-government institutions that administered adoptions should issue formal statements of apology that acknowledges practices that were illegal or unethical.
The committee says that official apologies should include statements that take responsibility for the past policy choices made by institutions' leaders and staff, and not be qualified by reference to values or professional practice during the period in question.
As well it says the formal apologies should always be accompanied by undertakings to take concrete actions that offer appropriate redress for past mistakes.
The Committee has also recommended financial compensation.
The committee says financial contributions be sought from state and territory governments, institutions, and organisations that were involved in the practice of placing children of single mothers for adoption to support the funding of services to establish affordable and regionally available specialised professional support and counselling services as well as peer-support groups to address the specific needs of those affected by former forced adoption policies and practices.
The report has described the way in which it says unmarried pregnant women were disempowered both in maternity homes and in the community.
The report says many parents have recounted the long-lasting and extreme experience of trauma that has resulted from their children being adopted against their will.
“The painful, sometimes disastrous effects of forced adoption hurt the mothers, but also rippled outward through families. The committee heard that some adopted people endured harsh treatment as children, and experience continued issues with identity, self-esteem and belonging.”
“For fathers and other family members the complex consequences of forced adoption continue to be experienced.”
The Report says the witness accounts given as evidence to this inquiry greatly disturbed the committee. Most significantly, they point to ongoing health and welfare problems that need to be addressed.
The issues that were raised with the committee concerned adoptions that took place between the late 1950s and the mid 1970s.
On November 15 2010, the Senate referred to the Community Affairs References Committee an inquiry into former forced adoption policies and practices.
Originally intended to report by June 30 2011, the large volume of submissions and the complexity of the subject led the committee to ask for extensions first to November 21 2011, and then to February 29 2012. The inquiry was chaired by WA Greens spokesperson for Community & Disability, Senator Rachel Siewert.
The full report can be found here.