The Abbott/Truss Government has taken another step towards delivering reform on inter-country adoptions.
Adopting a child from another country is a very complex and lengthy process. The Government has recognised that this delay is not in the interests of the child who is being adopted or of the family who are looking to adopt.
Prime Minister Abbott has been particularly committed to legislative change to ensure that the process of adopting a child from overseas is as straightforward as possible whilst maintaining the necessary checks and balances. On the whole the total number of adoptions has been decreasing, with inter-country adoptions making up 2 out of 5 adoptions in Australia.
The challenge for adopting parents in Australia has been compounded by the fact that each State has a different application process, the time for an adoption to be processed has ranged from 5 to up to 10 years and costs incurred have approached tens of thousands of dollars.
Worldwide the number of inter-country adoption has been on the decline, and on a per capita basis, Australia has a low rate of inter-country adoption. By removing some of the barriers and opening discussions with countries such as South Africa the number of adoptions is expected to increase. Currently Australians are able to adopt from China, Chile, Colombia, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand with several other countries “on hold”.
There has been an in principle agreement by COAG, the Council of Australian Government, to a national overseas adoption service from 2015 which will go some way to reducing differences between the States.
Immigration legislation and becoming an Australian citizen is generally a very complicated process and the necessary health, security and identity checks are an essential part of this. Last week legislation was introduced to the Parliament to see that children adopted by Australian citizens under bilateral arrangements are treated in the same way as children adopted under the Hague Convention. Under these arrangements the same safeguards apply to the children and an adoption compliance certificate must be issued. The child can be issued with Australian Citizenship in their country of origin as soon as the adoption is finalised. In 2012-2013 more than half of Australian inter-country adoptions were with countries under bilateral agreements rather than the Hague convention.
This cause has also been championed by the high profile Deborra-Lee Furness and Aussie star Hugh Jackman. There are many children across the world in need of a safe, happy and loving family. These changes will help children from other countries be introduced to their new families with greater ease for the benefit of all. I expect further progress to continue in this area.