• New adoption policy under fire in NSW. (Pixabay)Source: Pixabay
Adoption push not the right approach for Indigenous children, government warned on new policy.
By
Staff Writer

23 May 2018 - 10:19 AM  UPDATED 23 May 2018 - 10:20 AM

A new policy prioritising placing vulnerable children in NSW will favour focus on carers under a new state government program designed to give kids a permanent home through adoption.

The My Forever Family program announced this week by Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward is being called "the first program of its kind in Australia".

The new program, run by Adopt Change, replaces Fostering NSW and Connecting Carers.

However AbSec (Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat) and ACWA (the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies) have criticised the new approach to adoption, arguing it is not appropriate for the majority of Aboriginal children, who should be returned to family wherever possible.

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ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum said the new approach under these organisations makes it clear there was a push for carers to becoming adoptive parents of children.

“While permanency for children can take many forms, restoring a child to their birth family whenever possible is always going to be the ultimate goal," Mr McCallum said in a statement.

“Adoption from care is just one small part of the solution, and is appropriate for only a limited number of children.

"To give it false prominence, as the My Forever Family program reflects, sends the wrong message to the community that out-of-home care is an easy pipeline to adoption."

He also questioned why Adopt Change, Prosper or the Early Start Discovery Space were chosen for the program when they do not have specific experience working in out-of-home care.

The change follows the release last year of a discussion paper that proposed a series of reforms for those wanting to adopt, consideration of stripping parental rights from those jailed over the abuse of their child, early intervention and simplifying court processes.

Ms Goward said the new program to start on July 1 will educate adoptive parents, carers and prospective guardians about the different ways they can support vulnerable children and families.

"The program is focused on children having a family for life, not just until they are 18," said Ms Goward in a statement.

Under the program, children will be matched with families that best support their needs - which could also include carers who can support restoring relations with the child's birth family, prospective guardians or adoptive 
parents.

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A recruitment strategy for Aboriginal people will also be included, to ensure children stay connected to their families and community.

However AbSec CEO Tim Ireland expressed concerns the new direction by the NSW Government showed they are not listening to Aboriginal people or aware of the widespread concerns within the child welfare sector for Aboriginal children.

“Adoption through the statutory child protection system will never be an acceptable or appropriate solution for Aboriginal children, Mr Ireland said.

"Prioritising adoption over family reunification is contrary to the best interests of allvulnerable children and young people.”

“With Aboriginal children already comprising 37 per cent of young people in the NSW out-of-home care system, it is astonishing that FACS continues to make decisions that harm Aboriginal families,” Mr Ireland said.

Additional reporting AAP