Ideas@TheCentre brings you ammunition for conversations around the table. 3 short articles from CIS researchers emailed every Friday on the issues of the week.
A mere 89 children were adopted from ‘out-of-home care’ last year. At the same time, more than 30,000 children had been in care continuously for longer than two years.
This is a proxy figure for the number of children potentially available for adoption, were adoption not officially taboo within the child protection world. Many children in long-term care have been subjected to prolonged maltreatment at home and highly damaging instability while in care (multiple entries, exits, and reentries) as endless efforts are made to preserve and reunite dysfunctional families.
The taboo reflects the complex history of adoption, including the legacy of the Stolen Generations and discredited forced adoption practices. But the tragic lessons of these episodes have been learned. Modern adoptions are ‘open’, meaning adopted children can have contact with birth parents and knowledge of their family and cultural heritages so they do not grow up strangers unto themselves.
A promising sign is that the debate is changing due to the growing realisation that many children would be better off having a safe and permanent adopted family for life.
Diana Bryant, the Chief Justice of the Family Court, and Megan Mitchell, the National Children’s Commissioner have both expressed support of greater use of adoption for some children in care.
But there is still a long way to go. Political leadership is needed to drive cultural change in child protection authorities, but politicians are wary of supporting adoption for fear of being accused of repeating past mistakes and ‘stealing’ children all over again.
On controversial issues such as adoption, politicians prefer to lead in the direction the public is already prepared to head. This is why it is crucial for organisations like the CIS, and adoption advocacy groups such as Adopt Change, to lead the debate and build community support for adoption.
Adoption from care will not become a standard part of Australian child protection, as it should be, until the idea that modern, open adoption is a socially acceptable practice is embedded in the hearts and minds of the Australian public.
The Lehman Brothers collapse in September 2008 – the biggest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, with Lehman holding over $600 billion in assets -was a representative milestone for the Global Financial Crisis. Yet, seven years on we still can’t agree on the exact causes of the GFC, the largest financial crisis since the 1929 stock market crash.
In the Journal of Economic Literature, MIT Sloan Professor of Finance Andrew Lo reviews 21 books on the GFC, written by academics, journalists and policymakers. His conclusion: “no single narrative emerges from a broad and often contradictory collection of interpretations.”
Some blame the corrupted incentives of predatory lending, with the US subprime mortgage industry, obscure security bonds and biased rating evaluations as chief examples; some say fraud and lack of regulation – or even capitalism itself – are the true culprit; on the other polarity, the excess of government regulation and intervention (e.g. the distortions caused by government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the US housing market) are in the dock; others attack global imbalances leading to distorted international trade accounts, as well as reckless fiscal spending and high private and public financial leverage.
In short, that we cannot agree on the causes of the GFC is in itself quite telling about the current challenges to global growth. Albeit the tremendous fiscal and monetary efforts to revive the global economy, growth is at best lukewarm and fragile. Or worse: our ability to fight the next recession is deeply undermined, with little wriggle room to promote further expansionary government measures.
For Australia, this means we should be engaging in deep structural reforms to improve our resilience. Accordingly, it is high time we fix our outdated tax system and industrial relations, and insert more competition in our domestic markets.
We might not agree on the causes of the last crisis, but we can still agree much has to be done to prepare for the next one.