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Deborra-Lee Furness (Wikipedia/Tribeca Disruptive Innovation)

The number of children being adopted out of the child protection system in New South Wales has plummeted by 60 per cent since 2020 despite reforms to make it easier for foster carers to adopt. Source: Sydney Morning Herald. 

In 2022-23, just 60 children were adopted from out-of-home care – which includes foster families, kinship care and residential institutions – across NSW, down from 89 the year before. There are about 15,000 children and young people in state care overall.

The former Coalition government changed the law in 2018 – opposed by Labor and the Greens at the time – to cap temporary care at two years before caseworkers must look for a permanent arrangement. After the reforms, carer adoptions hit 142 in 2018-19 and 162 in 2019-20.

The number of carer adoptions is now lower than before the reforms – there were 67 in 2015-16.

The figures revealed by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice come as the Minns Government undertakes extensive reform of the child protection system. The Sydney Morning Herald revealed the department is also reviewing its arrangements for the dwindling number of voluntary local adoptions.

Actor and adoption advocate Deborra-Lee Furness called for a refocus on permanency, given the large numbers of children in NSW growing up without families.

“There are children as young as two years old living in motels and residential group settings – essentially ‘pop-up orphanages’ with shift workers – and yet the rates of permanency for these kids appears to be on a continued decline,” Ms Furness said.

“We’re talking about precious children who have come from traumatic situations, who need stability and love to heal.”

Permanency includes restoration to the biological family, guardianship orders that make the carers rather than the government the legal guardians, and adoption, which establishes a legal familial bond, including for inheritance. All adoption in NSW is open adoption, where the birth parents remain known to the children.


Adoptions plummet despite reforms making it easier for carers to adopt (By Caitlin Fitzsimmons, Sydney Morning Herald)