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Question: Forced Adoption and Victims' Redress Scheme

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney-General on the topic of forced adoption and victims' redress.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Between the 1940s and 1980s, tens of thousands of Australian women were forced into adopting out their babies by government and church-run homes and hospitals. An estimated 250,000 Australian women were subject to the practice of closed adoption during this period, where adoption papers were sealed in order to provide a complete break between mother and child.

On 18 July 2012, a formal apology was given in parliament, following the tabling of the report of the Community Affairs References Committee entitled 'Commonwealth contribution to former forced adoption policies and practices', and my own campaign and the campaign of others, including the Hon. John Gardner, member for Morialta, calling for the former Premier to say that previous parliaments and governments share responsibility for the application of some of the policies and processes that impacted upon unmarried mothers of adopted children.

The government continues to fund a dedicated Post Adoption Support Service, operated by Relationships Australia South Australia. Despite my calls and the calls of survivors, however, this apology was never followed up with reparations. An apology is just one part of the journey from injustice to healing and recovery, and actions will speak louder than words.

In 2021, Victoria set up an inquiry into forced adoption, with a report that was handed down in September 2021 and a government response published in March 2022. A $138 million redress scheme for mothers was announced on 25 October 2023, and that started this year, 2024. The scheme provides financial redress and support to the many mothers who continue to live with the serious, complex and ongoing effects of the experience of forced separation. The scheme is open to mothers who gave birth in Victoria or were a Victorian resident but gave birth interstate and were forcibly separated from their newborn babies prior to 1990. My questions to the Attorney are:

1. How are regional and rural survivors of forced adoption being provided with access to reparations, including access to professional services such as counselling?

2. Will the South Australian government follow in its Victorian counterpart's footsteps and implement to redress scheme for those affected mothers in our state?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for her question.

I am loosely aware of the Victorian parliamentary inquiry that was held roughly three or four years ago in relation to the issue of forced adoptions. I will have to take some advice. I suspect it goes over a couple of portfolios, and I expect the Minister for Human Services might have a role to play in the provision of support and counselling services. I am happy to have a look across government to see if I can find an answer in relation to that. In relation to setting up a redress scheme, certainly it is not something that we have a policy for, but we are always open to looking at ways we can better support South Australians.

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