The Centre for Excellence in Open Adoption is an initiative of Barnardos Australia to provide a framework for research, advocacy and practice development in open adoption.

The Centre’s first major research project was launched by Minister Upton at the “Talking about Adoption – Celebrating 30 Years of Open Adoption Experiences” event in Sydney, which was attended by adoptees, adoptive families and adoption specialists.


The Centre aims to inform and educate governments, welfare professionals and the community about the importance of open adoption for non-aboriginal children who have been permanently removed by the courts due to abuse and neglect. It will demonstrate the best practice process to achieve an increase in the number of children benefiting from this style of adoption.


The Centre will initiate research into open adoption practice and outcomes and hold regular events every six months in order to disseminate research findings and stimulate discussion in the community.

See our latest updates.


The Centre will provide information to lawyers, courts, caseworkers and out-of-home care managers about the importance of open adoption to children and young people to create a family for life.

Practice Development

The Centre will provide information for programs about open adoption in Australia, such as team development, case management, unit costs, legal issues and contact perimeters. Specific training modules will be developed for casework staff.

For more information see our fact sheet.


What is open adoption?
Open adoption means children have regular ongoing contact with their birth family. The frequency of this contact depends on the age of the child and their relationship with their birth family, but for many is a contact order which on average would be visits 3-4 times per year. Other forms of contact include letters, photos and cards may also be used.

Why Open Adoption?
Australia has built a dysfunctional foster care system in which too many children never find a forever home.  Too many moves to a succession of placements means ex-foster children are found in juvenile justice institutions, then later, adult prisons and mental health facilities.  Unemployment is very high and homelessness frequent, as is alcoholism and substance abuse.  Early pregnancy is common and often leads to generational deprivation.

Adoption disruption rarely occurs and stability of relationship within a secure family structure offers children the opportunity to develop and flourish. These children tell us they feel accepted in society and do not experience the social discrimination felt by many foster children Stability enhances their life options.

Why is Open Adoption best for children?
Open adoption gives these children the best opportunity for a secure future by meeting their attachment needs and giving them the opportunity to understand their past. This is essential to their development and ongoing construction of identity as a member of an adoptive family.


Patron – Deborra-lee Furness

Deborra Lee Furness

Deborra-lee Furness is an internationally acclaimed actress as well as a passionate supporter of children and defender of their human rights across the globe.

Deborra-lee is Founder and Board Member of Adopt Change. She is A World Vision Ambassador and an executive director of The Worldwide Orphans Foundation, Patron of The Lighthouse Foundation for homeless youth and Patron of International Adoption Families of Queensland. She is also a patron of The Fight Cancer Foundation.