Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 September 2015) . . Page.. 3101 ..
Early consideration of permanency supports the best possible developmental outcomes for all children and young people, but particularly for the very young. Adoption and all permanent care options are one of the most important moments in the child and family’s lives. It is a decision that requires careful consideration, and we need to get it right from the start.
In order to set up a loving, permanent life for a child we need to ensure adoptive parents and parents with enduring parental responsibility orders do not end up with a lifetime of conflict and legal uncertainty. This government is stepping up for children and young people by ensuring that we are investing in a range of new services to give children the most safe and stable lives possible and truly putting their needs at the centre.
I conclude by thanking all those in the ACT community who care and take on responsibility for some of Canberra’s most vulnerable children and young people. Whether you are a foster carer or an adoptive parent, I thank you for the valuable contribution you make to the lives of our children and young people.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.33): I congratulate Ms Lawder for bringing forward this extremely important issue today and one that has been occupying my mind, as well as Ms Lawder’s, for some time as we have been speaking with constituents who have been confronted with the very difficult circumstances of having to wait an unduly long time for the finalisation of something which has been agreed by all. I am speaking from the knowledge I have of families in this circumstance.
One of the families I know in this circumstance has had permanent orders on behalf of children for some time. The family moved through the process of going from permanent orders to adoption. The children were sat down by the Department of Community Services who told them the adoption had been agreed to. They are quite young and it was explained to them what this would mean. One of the things they were told was when one of the children started school next year that child would go to school with his adoptive family name. That is not going to happen unless there is a radical turn-around in the system. It is now September and that child is going to commence school in February next year. The likelihood of that child going to school with his adoptive family name and not having to change his name later in the song is diminishing every day that this is delayed.
I am not convinced by the Attorney-General standing here and saying there are no delays in the civil courts. Ask any barrister or solicitor who has matters in the courts and they will tell you what the delays are. Ask any prosecutor. They know they have priority in the Supreme Court on all matters. The blitz is about getting rid of the backlog of criminal cases in the Supreme Court. The Law Society has spoken to me and Mr Hanson about this on a number of occasions over the past few years and months.
The clear consequence of that is a backlog in civil cases, and adoption cases are civil cases. Nothing the Attorney-General said before lunch gives any comfort to families. The advice they are receiving through the Department of Community Services is that the delays are caused in the courts and they are not lodging the papers because they know they will be delayed. This is the problem.