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Australian Government response to the Senate Committee Inquiry

The Australian Government invested $11.5 million over four years to assist those affected by forced adoption practices as part of its response to the recommendations in the Senate inquiry report on the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) is the lead agency coordinating the implementation of the government's response.

DSS has established a Forced Adoptions Implementation Working Group to advise government on services and projects related to implementing the government’s response to the senate committee report.

For more information, email forcedadoptions@dss.gov.au or visit the Department of Social Services website.

Key elements of the government's response are set out below.

Support services

The government has invested $5 million over four years to improve access to specialist support services, peer and professional counselling and support records tracing for those affected by forced adoptions. This work will be carried out by DSS.

DSS is beginning work to determine what service types will best meet the ongoing needs of people affected by forced adoption policies and practices. DSS is working with key stakeholders and state and territory governments to identify what will best link people to the services they need. While it will take time to improve access to specialist services and records tracing support, the end result will better achieve service integration and complement what is already available.

Mental health services

The government has invested $5 million over four years to provide mental health services and workforce training.

The Department of Health will increase funding to the Medicare Locals network, to enhance their capacity to respond to an expected increase in demand for Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) following the national apology. The funding is to deliver services to people who have been affected by forced adoption practices and who have a mild to moderate mental disorder. People who identify as such will have the same ATAPS service as any other client in relation to referral pathways, professionals delivering services and session limits. However, they are expected to be given priority and not be placed on waiting lists. If a person wishes to access the ATAPS services, they should approach their GP.

The funding will also be used to develop guidelines or training materials to support mental health professionals who provide specialised treatment for those affected by forced adoption. The Department of Health is currently stocktaking resources and materials already available. This will help to develop options for additional support materials.

Community education

The government also provided $1.5 million for a website and exhibition by the National Archives of Australia to record the experiences of those affected by forced adoption and increase awareness and understanding of these experiences in the community.

For more information on how to contribute to the exhibition, contact the National Archives of Australia.