A new federal parliamentary report into adoption in Australia provides much-needed national leadership on child protection, according to child protection expert, Dr Jeremy Sammut.
The author of several research papers and the book The Madness of Australian Child Protection: Why Adoption will Rescue Australia’s Underclass Children, Dr Sammut’s ground-breaking research on Australia’s child protection crisis has led the national debate about adoption and influenced the reforms passed last week by the NSW Parliament. It has also been cited in legal forums, such as the SA Coroner’s Court inquest into the death of toddler Chloe Valentine.
Dr Sammut said the report released yesterday by The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, ‘Breaking barriers: a national adoption framework for Australian children’, rightly recognises that the best interests of children need to be at the centre of child protection systems.
“The majority report of the committee has rightly put the onus on state and territory governments to fix the flawed so-called ‘family preservation at all costs’ policies that are harming children’s immediate welfare and opportunities in life,” he said.
“If current practices don’t change, then tens of thousands of Australia’s most disadvantaged children will continue to languish in long-term, highly unstable out-of-home care.
“These kids will never find permanent homes unless we reverse the anti-adoption culture that is ingrained in state and territory child protection authorities.
“The numbers speak for themselves, with less than 250 finalised local adoptions in 2016-17 — despite almost 50,000 children living in care nationally.”
Dr Sammut said greater use of adoption will mean that children no longer spend all their childhoods in care and will instead ensure they find the safe and stable families all children need to thrive.
He added “it is a myth that adoption will rob children of their identity. ‘Open adoption’ models are specifically designed to maintain children’s connections to their cultural heritages and birth families.”
“It’s also a myth that adoption will steal children all over again without supporting families.
“The adoption reforms in NSW are investing heavily in targeted and effective early intervention and restoration services to keep as many children safe at home as possible.”
“The NSW model — which will use open adoptions a last but timely resort for the children who can’t go home safely — should be emulated by all states and territories.”
Dr Jeremy Sammut is a Senior Research Fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies, and author of The Madness of Australian Child Protection: Why Adoption will Rescue Australia’s Underclass Children.
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