New intercountry adoption process is being considered

Publish Date: Jul 28, 2014

A new bill is currently being considered by the Australian Government, which makes amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. 

In a May 29 speech to parliament, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the purpose of the proposed bill was to make the process of obtaining Australian citizenship for intercountry adoption easier. This is for countries that have not ratified the Hague Convention on Protection and Co-operation of Intercountry Adoption. 

"Under such bilateral arrangements, Australian citizens have, for several years been able to adopt children from South Korea, Taiwan and Ethiopia. Although the intercountry adoption programme with Ethiopia is now closed, there are a number of families who are awaiting the finalisation of their adoptions," Prime Minister Abbott said. 

Currently children from countries with bilateral adoption arrangements require an Australian adoption visa and a passport from the country they were born in to travel to Australia. If the bill is passed, children adopted under these arrangements will be granted citizenship once the adoption has been finalised. Countries that are party to the Hague convention already have this right if they have been issued an adoption compliance certificate. 

The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill was introduced in Australian Parliament on May 29 2014. A second reading debate of the bill was held on July 17 2014. 

Prime Minister Tony Abbott also said the changes in the document were in line with his party's commitment to make changes to intercountry adoption. 

"The Government wants to make it easier to adopt when it is in the best interests of the child. We don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past, but we do want to remove the red tape and reduce the delays that don't benefit anyone," said Prime Minister Abbott.

Prime Minister Abbott said the red tape is what impacts "children who legitimately need a safe and loving home and Australians who dream of providing that home".

A new intercountry adoption program with South Africa was opened on May 5 2014. The programme will help find homes for South African children in Australia, if a local family cannot be found. The government has entered into discussions with a further seven countries.

On June 17 2014 the bill was referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. The report of the committee is due on August 26 2014. 

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