Adoption numbers up in Australia

Adoption numbers up in Australia 

Following the lowest adoption numbers on record in 2015-16, the latest Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) report indicates an increase in numbers for 2016-17, largely made up of known child adoptions, the majority in NSW

Immediate Release: Australia, Wednesday 13th December 2017 – Adoptions in Australia for 2016-17 are at 315, up on the previous year of 278, according to figures released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Reneé Carter CEO Adopt Change said, “Last year Australia had the lowest number of adoptions on record, so it is pleasing to learn of the increase in adoptions this year.

“There are almost 40,000 Australian children who have been living separately from their birth families for two or more years, unlikely to return home. Instead, they typically face 12.5 years in the out of home care system, with some children moving ten or twenty times and others living in residential group homes.

“For some of these children, adoption is the best option that unfortunately faces too many barriers. The AIHW figures released today are an encouraging sign however there is still a lot more to be done to ensure more children have access to permanent, safe and loving homes.”

The AIHW report identifies that the increase in adoptions is primarily due to the rise in the number of adoptions by known carers to 204, with 143 of these being foster carers, 131 of who were from NSW. Of these children 80% were aged five years or older.

Ms Carter said, “The latest figures show that over the past twelve months the NSW government has made a concerted effort to address the need for permanency for children in statutory care who are unable to return to their birth families.

“They also suggest that other states are now considering adoption as a permanency option for children in out of home care.”

While the wait times for intercountry adoptions has dropped to 33 months, the number of intercountry adoptions decreased from 82 to 69 with 100% being from Asian countries. Ms Carter said this was reflective of a global trend where figures have been on the decline.

“Adopt Change believes every child deserves a permanent, safe and loving home and will continue to support ways for children in other countries to have family based care rather than institutionalisation.”

With the findings of the AIHW report, Ms Carter added that Adopt Change would continue working with government, the sector and the community to encourage ethical adoption reform to ensure that vulnerable, at risk children have the opportunity to flourish in a loving, safe and permanent family environment.

Key findings

  • There were 315 adoptions in Australia in 2016–17 vs 278 for 2015-16. 
  • Of all finalised adoptions, 22% were intercountry and 78% were of Australian children (65% known child and 13% local adoptions). 
  • More known child adoptions were by carers (143) than step-parents (57). The majority of carer adoptions came from NSW (131) 
  • All local adoptees, and a large percentage of intercountry adoptees (74%), were under 5 years old. Most known child adoptees were 5 and over (80%). 
  • The average waiting time for families adopting from overseas was 33 months in 2016–17 compared with 41 months in 2015–16. 
  • In local adoptions, 49% of adoptive parents were over 40 years old. For intercountry adoptions, 74% of adoptive parents were over 40. 

Adopt Change Media Contact: 
Samantha Dybac 
Phone: 0411 251 373

Available for interview: Renée Carter, Chief Executive Officer, Adopt Change

Adoptions Australia 2016-17 report available via the Australian Institute of Health Welfare (AIHW) website

Adopt Change on facebook, instagram and twitter @adoptchangeau 
Founder and Patron Adopt Change and National Adoption Awareness Week, Deborra-lee Furness
Board Directors: Catherine McDonnell (Chair), Kerry Chikarovski, John O’Neill, Victoria Buchan

About Adopt Change and National Adoption Awareness Week (NAAW) 
Adopt Change believes that every child has a right to grow up in a safe, permanent and loving family home. Adopt Change’s mission is to raise community awareness, encourage ethical reform, and empower all Australians to engage with issues affecting adoption and permanency.

Adopt Change is committed to working with community and governments to transform attitudes and laws affecting adoption and permanency in Australia. Adopt Change advocates for open adoption as the first permanent option considered for children who cannot live with their family or kin and will otherwise spend their childhood in Out of Home Care.

National Adoption Awareness Week (NAAW) is coordinated by Adopt Change to promote reform of Australian adoption laws and practices to facilitate a community where a child’s right to permanency is prioritised. NAAW was founded by Deborra-lee Furness in 2008. In 2017 NAAW ran from Sunday 12 – Saturday 18 November 2017.

About Renée Carter 
Renée Carter is the CEO of Adopt Change and member of the Institute Advisory Group for the Independent Research Centre Institute of Open Adoption Studies (The University of Sydney).

Renée has executive and board level experience in the corporate and not-for-profit sectors and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD). Her experience includes three years as Chair of charity Child Abuse Prevention Service (CAPS), an organisation focused on early intervention, education and support of families and communities.

Renée is passionate about influencing policy and practice to deliver timely and effective outcomes for children, by garnering community, sector and government support.