It was recently announced by the Queensland State Government that same sex–couples in Queensland will soon be granted the opportunity to legally adopt children. Government intends to remove the remaining legal barriers currently contained in the Adoption Act 2009 to enable same-sex couples to adopt.
Queensland is one of the last Australian jurisdictions to move forward with these reforms. New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT and Western Australia have already made changes. It is expected that the government will put forward the amended legislation later this month for a parliamentary committee review before it is debated once parliament resumes in mid–August 2016.
The planned changes result from a review ordered by the State Government almost a year ago, including six months of community consultation. The review found overwhelming support within the Queensland community for same-sex adoption. Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman said that the review had given an “opportunity to ensure that our laws reflect community standards and expectations as well as meet the needs of children who still require adoption here in Queensland now and into the future”.
The proposed amendment to the Adoption Act 2009 will allow groups of people who are currently banned from adopting to be able to be considered eligible. These groups include same-sex couples, single people and couples who are undergoing fertility treatment such as IVF. The changes will also allow for information to be given to adoptees and the removal of the offence and penalty for a breach of a no-contact provision for adoptions before 1991.
In a family law context these changes are most welcomed. Every day we see different types of families come through our doors needing our assistance. There is certainly no “one size fits all” when it comes to a family dynamic. In a state where same-sex de facto couples are able to enter into a surrogacy arrangement, it makes sense to extend this right to being able to legally adopt a child. These proposed changes provide equality within our society and will result in many children who are in need of a loving family, gaining one.