Forced Adoptions in Australia

A large proportion of the Australian population has been affected by Australia’s historical adoption practices with approx 150,000 adoptions occurring in the peak period from 1950 – 1975. These practices continued through until the late 1980’s. It is estimated that more than 11,000 forced adoptions occurred in Tasmania throughout this period

Adoption of children born to unwed mothers was common, and unwed mothers often had little or no choice about what would happen to their babies.

Many infants were taken from their mothers at childbirth due to the extreme pressure and coercion that they experienced from family, social workers, and hospital staff. Many adoptions were arranged without willing or informed consent, were unethical, dishonest, and illegal, and are therefore considered forced. Some mothers were told their babies had died shortly after birth.

A senate committee report tabled in 2012 led the Australian Government to deliver a formal apology in 2013 to people affected by forced adoption practices. The apology acknowledges the experiences of those affected by these adoptions which created a lifelong legacy of pain, suffering and trauma for most, and allowed for the opening of closed files which gives information about first mothers and other family history.

Relationships Australia Tas offers free counselling services to those affected (including mothers, children, siblings, fathers, grandparents) under the FASS program (Forced Adoption Support Service). This service also assists clients to search for family members who they have become separated from due to the adoption practices.

There is now funding to set up support groups for those on the NW coast of Tasmania who have been affected, with a view to have these up and running by end of June 2022. These groups would be self-driven and facilitated by a qualified Counsellor, free of charge, and offering a safe and confidential space to talk, listen and share (morning or afternoon tea provided).

If you are interested in participating by being part of a community reference group (with ideas and knowledge to help get the support groups up-and-running), or due to lived experience would like to be part of a support group, please contact Lyndell as per the attached poster.

Relationships Australia Brochure