National Conference to hear expert opinions on the state of permanency for children in Australia

This year marks the tenth National Adoption Awareness Week (NAAW), from Sunday 12 November– Saturday 18 November, which was founded by actor and humanitarian Deborra-lee Furness

During this tenth National Adoption Awareness Week, Adopt Change is inviting all Australians to take part in the #AHomeForEveryChild tshirt campaign to ensure more children find permanent, loving and safe homes.

Adopt Change will officially commemorate and launch National Adoption Awareness Week at 9am on Monday 13 November at the Mural Hall, Parliament House Canberra, with Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs.

On Thursday 16th and Friday 17th November Adopt Change are facilitating the firstNational Permanency Conference – Connections for Life, in Sydney, to address the importance of permanency for children and their connections with family, culture, community and self. The conference will bring together a variety of views and ideas from international speakers Sir Martin Narey, Sandrine Pepit and Dr Sylvia Rowlands, along with local speakers including actor, adoptee and Adopt Change Ambassador Jack Thompson,Warren Mundine AO, former WA police commissioner Karl O’Callaghan, former NBL player and Adopt Change Ambassador Eric Bailey, former AFL player and Adopt Change Ambassador Brad Murphy, adoptee, international film maker and Adopt Change ambassador Joel de CarteretSenator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Hon. Pru Goward MP, Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett AM, and Dr Jeremy Sammut.

The conference will provide insights into permanency and adoption practices globally; the latest evidenced-based interventions to support families at risk of losing their children; as well as trauma informed practices and support information for adoptive families. Speakers will reflect on their own experiences in relation to a variety of topics including the state of child protection in Australia, working with foster families to achieve more permanent outcomes, the French and English systems of adoption, improving brain health by integrating trauma informed practices, and preserving culture for aboriginal children.

It will also bring together government from federal and state level for a panel discussion one year on from the Community Services Ministers’ commitment to prioritising permanency for children.

Renee Carter, CEO Adopt Change said, “There are almost 40,000 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.

“We are at a critical juncture for child welfare in Australia. There are too many children living in limbo during their time in out of home care. The negative repercussions for children now and in later life include higher rates of homelessness, interactions with the justice system, and lower rates of education and health.

“This conference is an opportunity to ensure that important conversations about permanency for children are front and centre while exploring aspects of the permanency continuum, from reunification through to adoption and post-adoptive supports.”

Sir Martin Narey, Ministerial Advisor for adoption in England and Chair of the National Adoption Leadership board UK, who will share his experience and key learning’s in leading successful adoption reform in the UK said, “Evidence in the UK has demonstrated that we have sometimes not intervened quickly enough to remove children from neglectful homes and that some of those removed will never be able safely to return to their birth parents. For those children, kinship care is the first option. But when that is impossible, and particularly for younger children and infants, the UK government has successfully sought to rejuvenate adoption.”

“A key achievement has been significantly improving the adopter recruitment process so that the number of approved adopters outweighs the number of children waiting. While I understand there are significant differences between our two countries, I hope the experience of boosting adoption in England, and reversing a sustained fall in numbers, will help stimulate discussion here in Australia.”

During National Adoption Awareness Week, Adopt Change will be calling on state and federal governments to put the rights of vulnerable, at risk children first, and Ms Carter says the organisation wants to see change across the following four areas:

  1. A decrease in the number of children currently in state care
  2. An increase in evidence based early intervention and family preservation to keep children with birth families where this is safe and in their best interest
  3. Better and more timely decision making for children who are unable to live with their birth families, allowing them access to the permanency and love they deserve
  4. A removal of barriers to adoption and lifelong belonging where this is an appropriate option

Tshirts for the #AHomeForEveryChild campaign are available for purchase via the Adopt Change website.

Further Conference details including a full list of speakers and topics is available at conference website.

Media accreditation for the Connections for Life – National Permanency Conference 
Please Contact Samantha Dybac
E: p: +61 411 251 373

Dates: Thursday 16th and Friday 17th November 2017 
Location: Rydges Sydney Central, 28 Albion Street Surry Hills.
Paid parking available on site. Close to Central train station and buses.

Media enquiries, campaign images and interviews
Please Contact Samantha Dybac
E: P: +61 411 251 373 

Available for interview 
Renee Carter CEO Adopt Change 
Conference speakers available upon request and subject to their personal timetables


National Adoption Awareness Week 12 – 18 November 2017 
Founder and Patron Deborra-lee Furness 

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 will run from Sunday 12 – Saturday 18 November 2017. 

About Renee Carter 
Renee 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).

Renee 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.

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

There were 196 Australian child adoptions in total in 2015-16, comprised of 45 local adoptions and 151 known child adoptions, including 24 children 18 yrs of age or over, and 70 by a known-carer. 68 of these known-carer adoptions were from NSW. (AIHW) 

Source: AIHW 2016 Adoptions Australia 2015-16, AIHW, Canberra. 

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2017 Child Protection Australia 2015-16, AIHW, Canberra