Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (16 September) . .
that today. Nevertheless, the fact remains that in 2013-14 there were 17 adoptions in the ACT and of these only seven were local adoptions. The others were overseas adoptions.
There has been some recent work in the federal parliament by my federal colleague Senator Seselja about adoption and also there have been some recent media articles that have shown that members of the Canberra community are concerned about the length of time it takes to adopt a child in the ACT. For example, on 22 August the Canberra mother of the year backed calls for easier adoptions. I will read a few excerpts from the article of only a few weeks ago. It starts off by saying:
A Canberra mother who spent six years waiting for approval to adopt two local children has backed calls from Senator Zed Seselja to aim for a more efficient NSW model of adoption.
The article goes on:
The leading benefit for the children—cared for by the McNamaras from ages four years and 14 months—was the legal identity they wanted.
There was a recent major Senate committee report on out of home care and again I acknowledge that the ACT's new strategy will address some of the issues that were identified already in that report. There have been some legal changes also made that are upcoming again in our own Assembly that will also help to streamline processes from the perspective of the ACT government directorate that is responsible.
I quote again from this article:
... while some carers, who had the consent of the birth parents, could have adoption applications granted within six to eight months, the more excessive time frames occurred because systems and case workers across Australia were not geared towards considering adoptions due to mistakes in the past.
The ACT's rate of adoption was more than double the national average, at 8.3 per 100,000 children. Again, it is a good thing that we are above the national average but there is certainly more that we can do.
What I want to focus on here, and it is the thrust of my motion today, is that once the Community Services Directorate has made arrangements that result in an application for an adoption order, that application then must go before a judge in the ACT court system to make a decision on whether to make an adoption order or not. And what we have heard from constituents is that the ACT government's current blitz on criminal cases in the ACT court system has resulted in a backlog of civil cases, including applications for adoption orders.
As a result of this blitz on criminal cases, a number of children and families in the ACT are waiting for adoption orders to be made. I have been contacted by some of those constituents going through the local adoption process. In one case a constituent has been notified by the Community Services Directorate that their paperwork for an application for an adoption order is ready to go into the ACT court system. I quote directly from an email I received from this constituent:
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