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In Aboriginal communities, the responsibility of raising children is often seen as the responsibility of the entire family rather than the biological parents alone, and so adoption was not necessary and an unknown practice in traditional Aboriginal culture.

If parents could not raise their child for any number of reasons, family, extended family and or community stepped in and did so. This still remains the case in many Aboriginal families and communities today.

Within the Aboriginal community, adoption is not usually considered suitable and relative or kinship care placements are the preferred care arrangements for Aboriginal children who are unable to live with their parents.

These are placements with a carer(s) from within the child’s family, extended family or Aboriginal community and assist the child to maintain their connection and sense of belonging to their family, community and Aboriginal culture.

However it is recognised that in some circumstances parents may feel it is necessary to formalise the placement of their child with step parents or relatives by adoption.

The Adoption Act 2000 does allow for Aboriginal children to be adopted but additional requirements must be met before an adoption order can be made.

Importantly, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles still apply. When returning an Aboriginal child to their family is not considered possible and they are unable to live with relatives or kin, a placement with a non-related person in the Aboriginal community or a suitable person may be considered. This will be done according to the child’s best interests and we will work closely with the Aboriginal community to make these decisions.

The law seeks to protect future generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from past practices that separated children from their families, communities, and culture.

Identifying and preserving a child’s name or given names, identity, language and cultural ties must be taken into consideration when making a decision about the adoption of an Aboriginal child. It is expected that the adoptive parents of an Aboriginal child are committed to supporting the child to learn about his or her Aboriginal culture and heritage.

Aboriginal people should be given the opportunity to participate with as much self determination as possible in decisions relating to the placement for adoption of Aboriginal children.

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019