"Post Adoption Allowances"

Page: 8559

Ms CARMEL TEBBUTT: My question is directed to the Minister for Family and Community Services. In light of the Minister's backdown last week on foster carer's allowances will she now have a heart and reinstate post-adoption allowances for parents who give vulnerable children a permanent home?

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

Ms PRU GOWARD I thank the member for her question. I remind members that both sides of this Parliament consider that adoption is one of the great permanent routes for out-of-home care and is closely aligned to the Government's commitment to reduce out-of-home care. Adoption of children in out-of-home care appears not to have been a priority for the previous Government. There were 17,892 children and young people in out-of-home care when the Coalition was elected, that is 11 in 1,100. In 2010-11 how many adoptions were there? There were 45 out of almost 18,000 children in out-of-home care. The year before there were only 48 children adopted from out-of-home care. As this Government has identified repeatedly, the reason for this low number is the extraordinarily long, repetitious and difficult process that would-be adoptive families have to go through to adopt in this State. We all believe in safe and loving permanent solutions, but we will not attract more people to adoption while we have a process that can take well over two years and often up to five. New adoptive families of children and young people in out-of-home care will now receive an annual $1,500 post-adoption allowance per child rather than the fortnightly carer allowance they received whilst fostering a child or young person.

The post-adoption allowance that the Coalition Government introduced in its last budget will remain in place. We have also stressed that if children who have been adopted have disabilities, then of course they are entitled to disability and home care services, and that will be a priority. The new post-adoption allowance announced in last year's budget impacts on only new adoptive families and children and young people in out-of-home care. I am advised currently around 721 potential adoptions are at various stages of consideration. Hundreds and hundreds of these families had been waiting for years—thanks to the mismanagement of Labor—to finalise assessments. That has to change if we are to increase the number of children in out-of-home care who can enjoy a stable and permanent solution.

Opposition members can say whatever they like, but very few families are prepared to persist with a very difficult process, as the numbers on record clearly identify. The changes to allowances that were made in last September's budget will not impact on the families who have already proceeded to seek an adoption. That was always made clear. They will continue to progress under the same financial arrangements that existed when they commenced. These grandfathering arrangements also include carers who formerly expressed an interest to adopt the children in their care, before that budget announcement on 6 September 2011, but had not yet proceeded to an assessment—again, as was made clear at the time of the last budget.

When a carer or a child has contacted their caseworker and inquired about adoption, and Community Services has agreed to pursue this permanent option, that is classified as a prior application. Alternatively, a caseworker may have identified adoption as a suitable permanent option and has discussed this with a carer and/or child. We are clearly developing a suite of broader reforms in conjunction with non-government organisations and carers in the adoption process, because in our view and in the view of those choosing to adopt children, that remains the problem: more children were adopted from overseas, despite the extraordinarily onerous cost, than were adopted locally.  (Source : http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LA20120221033?open&refNavID=HA8_1)

You must be logged in to comment due to spam issues.