LIFE-AFFIRMING independent advocacy group Women’s Forum Australia have welcomed Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s commitment to reform inter-country adoption processes in Australia.
Women’s Forum Australia have been conducting research and education campaign into adoption barriers in Australia since August this year.
Research committee member Dr Joanna Howe, who last month spoke at the annual Cherish Life dinner in Brisbane, said the Abbott government’s proposal was “a very positive step”.
During a function at Sydney’s Kirribilli House on December 19, Mr Abbott announced the Commonwealth Government would deliver on reforming overseas adoption processes in Australia.
He was supported by adoption campaigner Deborah Lee-Furness and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell.
Mr Abbott said the Government would work with premiers and chief ministers to discuss overseas adoption processes.
The Council of Australian Government has also put adoption on the agenda for an upcoming meeting in April.
He has also asked for an “interdepartmental committee” on overseas adoption that would report back to him by March with “immediate steps that could be taken”.
Mr Abbott said issues around adoption in Australia “deserve attention at the highest levels of government”.
“The issue of adoption is very important to many people in our community,” he said.
“Where there are children who legitimately need a safe and loving home, and where there are people who dream of being able to provide that home, we are committed to streamlining arrangements to enable them to come together.”
Dr Howe said the Federal Government would need to ensure waiting time frames were shortened and that women giving up their child for adoption did so in freedom.
“The waiting list is around five years for inter-country adoption, which is way too long,” Dr Howe said.
“We also need to be absolutely certain that a woman’s freedom has not been taken away when choosing adoption, that she is not coerced or paid for adopting out a child.”
According to UNICEF, there are over 132 million orphans worldwide.
Dr Howe said this statistic shows there was “a huge need for inter-country adoption”.
“However we don’t want women who are choosing adoption to be exploited,” she said.
Women’s Forum will release their first report into adoption challenges in Australia early next year.