The Commissioner has consulted with children and young people under the age of 25 on their views on adoption and the recommendations from the Statutory review of the Adoption Act 1994.
The children and young people who participated in the consultation were clear that adoption legislation and adoption processes need to:
- better support the participation of adopted children and young people
- support adoptive parents to enable their children to have a say and make decisions
- ensure children grow up in a safe, stable and nurturing family that is honest and open about the adoption
- ensure information was easily accessible, reliable and understandable – including adoption plans and what services are available during the adoption process.
The Commissioner broadly supports the recommendations put forward in the Adoption Act review. He has also made recommendations to enhance and strengthen the rights of children and young people within the Adoption Act 1994 and across adoption process in WA:
- Increase the rights of children and young people, including their right to participate in decisions affecting them, throughout the Adoption Act 1994 and in all areas of the adoption.
- Within the development of a set of guiding principles to be included in the Act (recommendation 3 of the Statutory Review ), the principles of participation of children and young people should clearly articulate how this will occur throughout all stages of the adoption process, where appropriate to the age and developmental capacity of the child.
- Children and young people with an experience of adoption be involved in the development of the guiding principles.
- The views and considerations of the young people in this consultation should inform this list of factors to be developed to guide decision makers when considering what is in the child’s best interests (recommendation 4 of the Statutory Review).
- The Department of Communities undertake meaningful consultations with children and young people each time the Adoption Act 1994 is reviewed, to ensure their views and ideas are considered.
- The Department of Communities proactively plan to consult with children and young people involved in step-parent adoptions, and those who are adopted after 18 years about their experiences during the adoption process. This consultation could occur during the Department’s contact with these young people and inform subsequent reviews.
- The Department of Communities review their information collection and information sharing processes to ensure that they are working to maximum effect for adoptees.
- The Department of Communities strengthens the efforts to provide information about the review, variation and enforcement of adoption plans to children and young people in ways that are accessible to them.