The NSW government has recently announced a target to double the rate of adoption within four years. People who adopt are also to be eligible for payment in future. NSW already boasts that it leads Australia in out-of-home care adoptions. Furthermore, the federal government is currently conducting an inquiry into local adoption ‘as a viable option’ for children in out-of-home care with a view to establishing a national framework for this purpose. Combined, these measures would seem to herald a return to the cruel and profoundly damaging child removalist policies of Australia’s past.
The devastating impact of permanent removals on both mothers and children has been extensively documented in Australian government reports in relation to the Stolen Generation in 1997, child migrants in 2004 and forced adoptions in 2012. It is quite clear from the human suffering documented in these reports, each of them prompting a government apology, that permanently removing children is not an appropriate solution to disadvantage.
While the work of mothering continues to be an unrecognised form of unpaid labour, systemic economic and social discrimination will continue, leaving women vulnerable to violence, exploitation and having their children removed and put at risk. To end the epidemic in child abuse, more must be done to recognise maternal rights, both in domestic legislation and in international human rights law. Strong mothers are needed to raise safe and happy children and we must provide them with the financial, legal and moral support they need.