Adoption reform: dispensing with consent consultation
Begins: Friday, 19 December 2018
Ends: Thursday, 28 February 2019
Consultation forums will be facilitated by a non-government representative in March 2019. Further information about these consultation forums will be published in 2019.
In 2017, the ACT Government committed to exploring provisions for dispensing with consent of the Adoption Act 1993 to better respond to out of home care circumstances (recommendation 3 of the Adoptions Taskforce Final Report).
The discussion paper aims to assist interested community members to contribute to the ACT Government’s exploration of provisions to dispense with consent in the domestic adoption process. It includes information about adoption, out of home care, the dispensing with consent process and issues that may be considered.
What does the ACT Government want to know?
The ACT Government would like to hear from children, young people and families, as well as professionals in two key areas:
- Experiences of dispensing with consent as part of the adoption process, including where the child is involved in child protection.
- Identifying changes to existing grounds for dispensing with consent to better reflect contemporary practice and respond to out of home care circumstances.
The discussion paper is focused on exploring legislative, policy and practice changes so that dispensing with consent decisions may better respond to children and young people in out of home care.
Matters that will not be actively considered are issues and processes relating to intercountry adoption, surrogacy, step-parent adoption and informal familial arrangements with no statutory or Court intervention.
How can I be involved?
You can provide a written submission at: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the post: Adoptions Taskforce, Community Services Directorate, Human Services Policy, GPO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601.
If you have any questions about your submission or would like to provide a verbal submission, contact:
Adoption working group
Community Services Directorate
T | (02) 6207 9401
Please Note: small extracts from your submission may be quoted in published material. Please let us know if you do not want your submission to be used in this way. Any personal information, such as names, will remain confidential.
What is dispensing with consent?
Dispensing with consent is a legal mechanism to determine that the consent of a parent or guardian is not required to proceed with an adoption.
Dispensing with consent is a difficult, complex and sensitive process that is impacted by the circumstances of each child or young person, the circumstances of each parent or guardian, parental consent to the adoption, and the directions of the ACT Supreme Court (the Court).
How is dispensing with consent decided?
The mechanism to dispense with consent is found in subsection 35(1) of the Adoption Act 1993 (ACT). Subsection 35(1) provides five grounds, at least one of which must be satisfied to proceed with an adoption without the consent of a parent or guardian:
1: On application, the Court may, by order, dispense with the requirement for consent of a person to the adoption of a child or young person if the Court is satisfied that:-
(a) the person cannot, after reasonable inquiry, be identified or located; or
(b) the physical or mental condition of the person is such that he or she is not capable of considering properly the question whether consent should be given; or
(c) the person has abandoned or deserted, or has neglected or ill-treated, the child or young person; or
(d) the person has, for a period of not less than 1 year, failed, without reasonable excuse, to discharge the obligations of a parent or guardian, as the case may be, of the child or young person; or
(e) there are any other circumstances that justify the requirement for the consent being dispensed with.
What issues are being considered?
Several issues for consideration have already been identified, these include:
- responding better to out of home care circumstances
- listening to the views of children and young people
- reflecting best practice in adoption
- providing legislative guidance in contemporary practice
- navigating court processes
- ensuring the best interests of children and young people
- balancing human rights.
Further information on previous consultation for domestic adoption.
Further information on adoption, including eligibility, processes and timeframes.