Danielle Armour

State and federal government ministers will meet on Friday to mark National Adoption Awareness Week and to discuss ways of improving the adoption process in Australia.

The current statistics on adoption of Australian children are staggeringly low. Over the last two years, 0.5 per cent of the children hoping for adoption were given new families. This leaves around 40 000 children in foster care or institutions and without a permanent home. All of these children are in desperate need of permanent care, with an 2016 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report finding that children who were part of the care and protection system were 14 times more likely to be part of the youth justice system as well.

Adoption advocacy groups, including Adoptchange, have called the adoption process over involved, with finalisation of adoption often taking years and involving lengthy court processes.

Adoption laws are currently the responsibility of state governments, however the meeting between state and federal ministers this week will look towards a national approach to the adoption process. The states recently became one step closer to uniform, national adoption laws with the Queensland Government expanding the eligibility criteria for adoption, most notably to include same sex couples. This puts all the states, except for South Australia and Norther Territory, in line in terms of jurisdiction.

In meeting this week, state and federal ministers also hope to find a way to reduce the taboo around adoption in Australia. With a national history of forced adoptions, as well as the length adoption process that is currently in place, adopting a child is not seen as the most worthwhile option for families looking for children.

National Adoption Awareness Week runs from November 6-12 and is supported by numerous high profile Australians, including Hugh Jackman. NAAW was founded by Jackman’s wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, a long-time supporter of change to adoption policies in Australia.