Good Adoption | The Life Of Von

Mrs BARBARA PERRY: My question is directed to Minister for Family and Community Services. Why has the Minister made it harder for foster mums such as Fiona, who was quoted in today's Sydney Morning Herald, to adopt children in their care, including those with severe intellectual disabilities?

Ms PRU GOWARD: I thank the member for Auburn for her question. We all agree that adoption is a great permanent solution for children looking for a stable and loving household for whom out-of-home care is not a desirable option. Adoption means that such children and young people can become part of a carer's family; they take the family name and become part of that family. Labor failed such children in New South Wales through budget waste and mismanagement, lack of service and an appalling failure to increase the number of adoptions.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Canterbury will come to order.

Ms PRU GOWARD: The only downside to taking a question without notice is having to listen to interjections from the member for Canterbury.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Canterbury to order. The member for Wakehurst will come to order.

Ms PRU GOWARD: It is indeed true that Labor managed to double the number of adoptions when it introduced the allowance. The number doubled to 48. With nearly 18,000 children in out-of-home care Labor could only manage 48 adoptions. That appalling number reflects the fact that Labor has never understood that the answer is not just to throw money at a program. We have to change the processes.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Canterbury will come to order.

Ms PRU GOWARD: Why do we have between two and 10 times the number of overseas adoptions in New South Wales, with families spending a lot more money applying for their adoptions and not getting any allowance at all? International adoptions are at between two and 10 times the number of local adoptions and families do not receive any allowance. That tells us that it is about the process and not the money.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Heffron will come to order.

Ms PRU GOWARD: The better promotion of adoptions—which we see internationally—and reducing obstacles to adoption are key goals being pursued by this Government. We must reduce the number of steps involved. All members have had the experience of families approaching them complaining about the difficulties of adopting a child in our system. Every member will say that it is not about the money. Forty-eight adoptions do not amount to a budget measure of any significance.

The SPEAKER: Order! The member for Canterbury will come to order.

Ms PRU GOWARD: Do the maths. This is about changing the paradigm for adoptions. We have to get those steps out of the way and reduce the waiting time.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Keira to order.

Ms PRU GOWARD: For example, we need to stop continually upsetting carers unnecessarily who we know full well are perfect candidates for adoption. It is ridiculous that Labor left a system in which foster carers who had already been approved for foster care had to go through the whole process again. That is why the former Government only arranged 48 adoptions. Labor members should be ashamed of themselves. They never looked at the systems, they never looked at the processes and they never did the maths. I emphasise that adoptive families who deserve support from Disability Services are just like any other family, and Community Services obviously will work closely with those carers considering the adoption of a child with a disability with the provision of ageing disability and home care services to ensure that the right support is given to those children.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Canterbury to order for the second time.

Ms PRU GOWARD: The changes to the allowances that were announced on 6 September will not impact on carers who have been waiting for years under the system of the former Government to commence, let alone to finalise, assessments that have been in place. It will certainly not disallow new adoptions. It relates to carers who started to discuss adoption with Community Services just before the budget but who had not yet proceeded to an assessment. They are still on their journey. It is clear that we need to give these children their childhoods; we have to give them a chance of a better life. And clearly the preferred way to do that is through adoption. That is not possible if we continue to put hurdle after hurdle before them, as Labor did. It is quite clear: 48 adoptions is absolute proof that it is not about the money. These families love their children and they want to care for their children and make them part of their family. [Time expired.]  (Source : http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/PARLMENT/hansArt.nsf/V3Key/LA20111014014?open&refNavID=HA8_1)

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