MPs form bipartisan group to revive stalled progress on adoption

A bipartisan group of MPs will form a new group aimed at reviving cross-party support to make the adoption process for parents faster and simpler.

The group, co-chaired by Liberal Senator Zed Seselja and the Labor senator Kimberley Kitching, will be launched at Parliament House on Monday by adoption advocate and actress, Adopt Change founder Deborrra-lee Furness.

Other members of the 21-strong group include the outgoing Labor MP Emma Husar, conservative senator Cory Bernardi, and Liberals Jonathan Duniam, David Bushby and Kevin Andrews.

Senator Seselja said he was pleased so many MPs were willing to work across party lines to further reform on the issue.

"We are forming the group to keep the issue of adoption and permanency on the agenda," he told Fairfax Media.

The number of adoptions in Australia rose for the first time in many years last year after decades of decline, but are still far too low. State and Territories have made commitments to make adoption a more viable option but apart from NSW they are not matching their words with significant progress."

Adopt Change CEO Renee Carter welcomed the group's formation.

"We believe the Parliamentary Friends of Adoption group is a positive step towards recognising the importance of the issues of child protection, out of home care and adoption, and taking a nonpartisan approach to identifying ways to improve the situation for children locally and globally," she said.

Adopt Change said Australia recorded its highest ever number of adoptions in 2015-2016 with 315 children placed into families. This was an increase from an all time-low of 296 recorded in the previous year.

Adopt Change says more than 40,000 children are in need of a permanent home.

The adoption process in Australia can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take up to a decade.

Last month, Adopt Change began operating a new program in New South Wales which provides recruitment, training, support and advocacy to a range of carers including foster carers, kinship carers, guardians, and adoptive families for children from statutory care in NSW.

Adoption advocates were disappointed when there was no funding in the May budget to help fund faster application processes through the states.

(This article first appeared in the The Sydney Morning Herald and was written by Latika Bourke).

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