On 23 June 2012, the then Attorney-General, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP, announced the Australian Government's intention to issue a national apology to those affected by forced adoption practices. A reference group was established by the government in August 2012 to provide advice on the wording, timing and delivery of the apology.
At its first meeting on 16 August 2012, the reference group commenced discussions on the key elements of an apology. The group acknowledged that the Senate Community Affairs References Committee report into the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices was the starting point for the apology. The chair of the reference group, the Hon Professor Nahum Mushin, said ‘there were constructive discussions which led to broad consensus on a wide range of issues'.
The group held its second meeting on 19 September 2012. The meeting commenced with a presentation by the Australian Institute of Family Studies on its 2012 report, Past Adoption Experiences: National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices.
The group discussed a variety of matters, including: language, to whom the apology should be made, the apology content and apology event. As part of its discussions, the group considered views and issues raised during consultations with other interest groups and individuals.
The group held its third meeting on 1 November 2012. The group considered the draft wording for the apology. To inform this consideration, the group discussed the issues and suggestions raised during consultations with interest groups and individuals, including feedback on state and territory government apologies.
The group held its fourth meeting on 28 November 2012. At this meeting the group reached agreement on the content of an advanced draft of the apology and discussed preparations for the associated event.
The members of the Forced Adoptions Apology Reference Group, and their respective positions at the time of reference group meetings, were:
Professor Nahum Mushin
- Chair of the reference group
Senator Rachel Siewert
- Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee on the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices
Senator Claire Moore
- Deputy Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee on the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices
Senator Sue Boyce
- Member of the Community Affairs References Committee on the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices
Graham Perrett MP
- Chair of the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee
- Mother and Convenor of Apology Alliance
- Mother and member of National Council for Single Mothers and Their Children
- Adoptee and Chair of Vanish Inc.
- Father, has written extensively about the impact of adoption on fathers
- Adoptee and National Secretary of the Australian Workers' Union