Page 5683 - Week 15 - Thursday, 10 December 2009

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MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Seselja?

MR SESELJA: What is the current status of the inquiry and when will the report of this inquiry be presented to the Assembly?

MR BARR: Again, this question was put directly to the commissioner at annual report hearings less than a week ago. I understood his response was that the inquiry was ongoing. He could not give a final date, but he said that it would be unlikely to be this year. As today is the final sitting day for the Assembly, it is unlikely that he will contact me between now and when the Assembly adjourns. So one would anticipate that it will be early in 2010.

Ethiopia-Australia adoption program

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Children and Young People. Minister, are you aware that the federal Attorney-General recently suspended the Ethiopia-Australia adoption program and that the program may be discontinued as early as January 2010? The program has been operating across Australia for 20 years and there are six families in the ACT who have applications to adopt in progress either in Australia or in Ethiopia. Minister, what representations have you made or are you making to the federal Attorney-General on behalf of those six families to seek resolution of this issue, and what feedback have you received from the Attorney-General?

MS BURCH: I thank the member for her question. Indeed, the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, as the Australian central authority under the Hague convention, is responsible for ensuring that Australia meets its obligations under the convention and has responsibility for the management of the Australia-Ethiopia intercountry adoption program. The Attorney-General’s Department is currently undertaking a review of that program.

During the morning prior to the public announcement of the program’s suspension on 24 November, staff from the Adoption and Permanent Care Unit contacted by telephone each of the six families in the ACT who are approved to adopt children from Ethiopia. ACT staff have undertaken to provide any information about the progress of the review that is provided to them to those families. They have also offered to be available to any family wishing to discuss the impact of the program’s suspension.

The ACT has received 15 adoption allocations from Ethiopia since 2003. The ACT can only have a maximum of three applicant files in at any one time, with an expected time wait of around three years. But given that the program is being suspended under review, that time line clearly will be impossible.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter, a supplementary question?

MS HUNTER: Minister, I wanted to pick up that I had asked what representations had you made to the federal Attorney-General. A very important part of the question is: what have you done as far as approaching the federal Attorney-General on this issue is concerned?

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