Government recognises 11th Anniversary of the National Apology for Forced Adoptions

On the eleventh anniversary of the National Apology for Forced Adoptions, the Albanese Labor Government acknowledges the traumatic consequences children, families, and communities endure due to past forced adoption practices.

Eleven years ago today, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered an unreserved and humble National Apology for Forced Adoptions.

While past records are not entirely reliable it is estimated that the removal of around 250,000 babies from their mothers took place between 1940s to late 1970s, as well as some recorded experiences of forced adoption into the 1980s.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth stated the importance of recognising the dark chapter in Australian history that saw infants removed from their mothers and the lasting trauma inflicted on countless Australian families, and communities – deep hurt still felt to this day.

“We acknowledge the mothers and children who were separated through devastating means of coercion, restraint, and institutional abuse,” Minister Rishworth said.

“The National Apology remains a significant turning point in bringing national awareness to the forced displacement of children – those who lost the right to identity and connection and some children sadly also losing a loving, safe and secure upbringing.

“We must acknowledge the cruelties of the past to ensure they never happen again, and we must support the mothers who were forced to suffer in silence and alone for too many years, and the children kept from their identity and history.”

Minister Rishworth said today the Government was announcing close to $1 million in additional funding for Forced Adoption Support Services along with an extension for three years.

The Government provides $1.8 million annually for Forced Adoption Support Services which offers a range of specialised support services that includes a national helpline, individualised casework and support, assistance with family searching and records tracing, peer support and access to counselling.

“I am pleased to announce that funding has been extended for an additional three years, with a one-off payment of $920,000 in 2024-25 to providers to address recent demand for services,” Minister Rishworth said.

The boost and extension will bring the total investment for Forced Adoption Support Services by the Government to $6.49 million through to 2026-27.

Last year, the Government also announced $700,000 in funding to further the capability of aged care, allied health and community service professionals – providing free and accessible online training modules for aged and community care workers supporting people impacted by forced adoption with a focus on ageing.

Under this funding, a series of online training modules are being developed to strengthen the delivery of trauma-informed care and minimise trauma-invoking encounters for those impacted by forced adoption, including to people as they age.  

Earlier this month Minister Rishworth met with State and Territory Community Service Ministers, and all ministers agreed to continued engagement and cooperation on Forced Adoption over the coming year.

The new work program will focus on comprehensive mapping of the experiences and supports for impacted people, cooperation on records and information access, and establishing an annual focal point for reflection, healing and awareness (National/Commemorative day).

“We acknowledge this anniversary as a reminder of our commitment to learn from the injustices of the past, that the future of our nation is one of inclusion and fosters family, community, and cultural connection,” Minister Rishworth said.

“We will not forget the pain, grief and disconnection of everyone impacted by forced adoption and its impact on families and communities generations later.”

People can contact the Forced Adoptions Support Service in their state or territory by calling the national helpline on 1800 21 03 13.

More information on the range of supports available through Forced Adoption Support Services can be found on the Department of Social Services website.