It is estimated that as many as 40,000 Victorian babies and their mothers were subject to forced adoption practices between the 1950s and the late 1970s. According to the parliamentary committee inquiry into historical forced adoption by the Victorian Government, released in September 2021.

The report made 56 recommendations and admitted that “immeasurable pain” had resulted from the separation of “thousands of mothers and babies … through unethical, deceitful and immoral policies and practices”.

Working with the Department

In December, Health Issues Centre was commissioned by the Dept Justice and Community Safety to facilitate a forum of stakeholders to consider the findings and recommendations, of the Inquiry. The consultation was primarily an information session to summarise the work of the inquiry and to outline the proposed way forward. It invited general responses from participants regarding their endorsement/concerns and identification of potential omissions from the recommendations of the final report.

Key Recommendations

The forum provided a key input into the government’s response to the key recommendations and this month it announced a commitment of over $4 million to design a redress scheme to support those affected by historical forced adoption practices. Part of the funds will go towards crisis counselling as well as enabling those affected by forced adoption to have integrated birth certificates with both adopted and natural parents names included.

“The grief and trauma caused by shameful historical forced adoption practices lasts a lifetime – it continues to affect thousands of parents and adopted Victorians to this day.

We can’t undo what was done, but we can recognise the harm that was caused and provide meaningful support – and that’s exactly what we’re doing.” Said Premier Daniel Andrews upon the announcement of the redress scheme.

A $500,000 hardship fund will be set up to provide discretionary payments to mothers of forced adoptions facing exceptional circumstances, such as being terminally ill, and the other $200,000 will go to community groups.

Health Issues Centre is incredibly proud to have been involved in the process; we see this work as being really important as part of our broader commitment to advocating for people to help improve their health and wellbeing.