Government ignores widespread opposition and pushes through fast-tracked adoption laws

Controversial changes to child protection laws have passed through the NSW Parliament, despite grave concerns raised by almost 80 CLCs and other organisations across the state.

These amendments will allow for forced adoptions in NSW, which experts warn will disproportionally impact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, paving the way for another Stolen Generation.

“These laws have been rushed through parliament, with limited consultation, and in the face of significant opposition from the legal sector, Aboriginal organisations and members of the community,” Community Legal Centres NSW Executive Director Tim Leach said.

“Almost 80 organisations and over 2000 individuals signed an open letter to the Premier about these reforms, asking for the government to slow down and engage meaningfully with the community. These concerns were sadly ignored. 

“One of the primary concerns is the new 24-month arbitrary time limits for restorations, which with the prioritisation of adoption as the preferred permanency outcome limits the discretion of the courts and creates a fast-tracked pathway to adoption. 

“Best practice from multiple reports and inquiries suggests that ensuring access to early support services like housing, family violence and legal assistance is essential for stable families and healthy communities. By not addressing systemic issues and placing strict conditions on restorations, there are serious concerns these reforms set up families to fail. 

“Community legal centres across NSW will continue to work in the best interests of children and communities in NSW, including monitoring the impacts of government reforms and proposing constructive legislative and policy reforms,” Mr Leach said. 

More information: 

Community Legal Centres NSW briefings on the reforms

Open letter signatories

Source: CLCNSW Media Release (23 November 2018)

See also: Human rights lawyers slam NSW Government’s regressive changes to child protection laws (ALHR media release, 24 November 2018)