NSW Parliament was today fronted by hundreds of representatives and supporters from children’s welfare agencies, Aboriginal organisations, community groups and unions standing united against the Coalition’s planned changes to introduce Forced Adoptions in NSW.
Ten years ago was the apology to the Stolen Generations, five years ago was the apology for Forced Adoptions, last month to survivors of institutional abuse, yet the NSW Government plans to push through laws that would see a whole generation of vulnerable, often Aboriginal, children forcibly removed and taken permanently from their families without the consent of their parents.
Greens MP and Child Protection spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“The strong turnout today for a snap rally shows the level of concern across the sector about these proposed laws.
“In 2012 Pru Goward stood up in the NSW Parliament and issued a teary apology for forced adoptions, and just a few short years later she is implementing more forced adoptions.
Summary of the concerns in the bill
“There is deep concern across the sector including in welfare agencies, unions and advocacy organisations that these new laws would see hundreds of Aboriginal children adopted without the consent of their parents.
“It’s time for the Premier to step in and to abandon this regressive policy, otherwise we’ll be back in Parliament in 5 years time apologizing to more damaged children and broken families” Mr Shoebridge said.
- The two-year maximum time limit for restoration, which is arbitrary and sets families up to fail. The proposal fails to recognise the significant systemic barriers families face in accessing appropriate services, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas.
- The introduction of guardianship orders by consent and proposed changes to the Adoption Act, which creates a fast-tracked pathway to adoption without an adequate framework to provide oversight and protect the interests of the most vulnerable children.
- The introduction of additional hurdles for parents to meet when seeking to vary current care and protection court orders, which will further limit access to the Courts. Rather than creating additional hurdles, the Government should ensure parents have access to free, independent legal advice.
- The requirement for FACS to engage families in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) before seeking court orders, which doesn’t guarantee families access to free, independent legal advice. Access to such advice is essential to address power imbalances between parents and FACS, to support parents to fully participate in a culturally safe process, and to ensure that placing a child in out of home care is always considered as an intervention of last resort.
- The lack of adequate consultation on these significant reforms, which puts the government on a pathway to repeating past mistakes. These reforms are significant and will have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable children and families in NSW, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It is critical there is adequate consultation with Aboriginal organisations and other stakeholders.