The Queensland deputy coroner’s report into the tragic death of toddler Mason Lee has helped shine the light on the merits of adoption for vulnerable kids.
As the Coroner’s recommendations made clear, adoption should be considered as a genuine permanency option for children who are not able to safely live with their birth families.
Child protection systems must have the moral courage to remove at-risk kids like Mason from dangerous homes. After all, it is the fundamental responsibility of state and territory governments to ensure that the wellbeing of a child is always the priority in decisions regarding their care.
I commend the New South Wales Government for leading the way on this issue, having introduced major reforms that strengthen early intervention supports for at-risk families, and which prioritise adoption above long-term foster care.
A strong focus on seeing more children, improved practice and evidence-based family preservation programs has seen a 42 per cent reduction in young people entering care across the state since 2015-16. In NSW, goals can be set within a case plan to achieve permanency through restoration, guardianship and open adoption within two years for kids who cannot be safely reunited with their birth family.
Significantly, of the 142 carer adoptions of Australian children in 2018-19, 136 occurred in NSW. I strongly urge the Queensland Government to examine this approach.
In Australia we have nearly 45,000 children in out-of-home care, including more than 8,100 in Queensland. Every single one of these kids should have the opportunity to belong in a loving, stable and permanent home.
While adoption is predominately a matter for state and territory governments, I am proud that our Government is taking a leadership role through the Fourth Action Plan of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children. Through this mechanism I am committed to facilitating discussions around strategies to secure better permanency outcomes for vulnerable children.