“Adoption is not the answer to fix a broken system”: Tim Ireland presents to parliamentary inquiry
Tuesday 14 August 2018
AbSec CEO, Tim Ireland spoke this afternoon at a public hearing of the federal parliamentary inquiry into local adoption.
Tim appeared alongside Natalie Lewis (CEO of QATSICPP and Board member of SNAICC), Donna Ah Chee (CEO of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress) and Sheralee Taylor (Board Member of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress), each discussing their submissions to the inquiry.
Each representative argued strongly against adoption of Aboriginal children from out-of-home care, emphasising that it’s an unproven approach that risks our kids’ lifelong connection to culture and community, and fails to keep them safe. Rather than brush over the problems of the statutory system through adoption, Aboriginal representatives called for greater focus on prevention, early intervention and community-based child and family welfare approaches to uphold the rights of Aboriginal children and young people, centred on the principle of self-determination.
In giving evidence to the Committee, Tim Ireland noted that the majority of submissions raised significant concerns about the push to adoption from statutory systems from a range of stakeholders including adoptee groups, academics and civil society. This included strong support for the full implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle.
AbSec’s opposition to adoption
AbSec is firmly opposed to the imposition of adoption on Aboriginal children in out-of-home care because, in our view, adoption through the current statutory system is not in our kids’ best interests, and should not be used as a means to fixing the current system.
Adoption orders through the statutory child protection system are characterised by the absence of key safeguards to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children. Decisions in the statutory system are also imposed on Aboriginal children, families and communities, failing to uphold the fundamental principle of self-determination despite existing statutory obligations. In our experience, existing legislative safeguards for Aboriginal children and young people are not reliably implemented, with stronger oversight and enforcement needed.
Further, adoption fails to uphold an Aboriginal child’s fundamental rights to family, community and culture, and the importance of these connections to the lifelong wellbeing and resilience of Aboriginal children and young people. Recent research has demonstrated the lifelong and intergenerational impacts of statutory systems that are characterised by paternalism, disconnection and the absence of meaningful oversight.
AbSec agrees that significant reforms are needed to improve the statutory system for Aboriginal children and young people, their families and communities. There have already been a number of inquiries and reviews throughout Australia, with broad agreement on the recommendations for the way forward for Aboriginal children and families; greater self-determination for Aboriginal communities in child welfare, greater investment in healing, prevention and early intervention, and full implementation of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle. Adoption is not the answer.
Recordings and transcripts
The transcript of the Tuesday 14 August hearing is available on the ParlInfo website.