Victorian Government Launches $138 Million Redress Scheme for Mothers Affected by Forced Adoptions

In a historic move, the Victorian state government has unveiled a $138 million redress scheme for approximately 3,500 Victorian mothers who had their babies forcibly removed under historical forced adoption practices.

This scheme, a first of its kind in Australia, aims to address the injustices these women face.

In this extra episode of the Briefing, Sacha Barbour Gatt is joined by Jessica Steele from Shine Lawyers to explain the development and what it means in the fight for justice for those involved.

Mothers who were impacted by forced adoption practices before 1990 will be eligible to apply for financial compensation, with each recipient receiving $30,000. Additionally, the scheme will offer counseling, psychological support, and individual apologies to these affected mothers.

The Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self-Help (Vanish), a support organization for those involved in adoption, will receive an additional $530,000 in funding to aid their work.

A significant revelation from a 2021 parliamentary inquiry indicates at least 40,000 adoptions took place between 1958 and 1984, with some being forced.

Unmarried women faced harsh conditions in maternity wards, were forcibly restrained during childbirth, had their babies immediately separated from them, and were pressured to sign consent forms for adoptions. Moreover, the names of these mothers were frequently deliberately omitted from birth certificates.

The LiSTNR podcast, Secrets We Keep, tells the stories of some young women impacted by this practice.

Lily Arthur, Director of Origins Supporting people Separated by Adoption and a campaigner for and justice for women and children affected by forced adoption, spoke to the podcast, calling for a royal commission into the time period.

“There needs to be some truth-telling; I’d like to get the record set straight for a start,” she told the podcast.

“I’d like to think that somewhere along the line there might be some form of reparation, financial redress for those women that were never able to get up from that experience, that were broken and lived in poverty.

“All of the records that were created on a pack of lies should be destroyed, original birth certificates should be reinstated, and adoption certificates should be marked for what they are.”

If you have been impacted by forced Adoption in Australia, here’s where you can get help.

Amelia Oberhardt thought she knew her Mum… until she died. It was then Amelia discovered a photo revealing her mother, a teenager, with a wedding ring, an apparent husband, cuddling an unknown baby. Determined to find out more, Amelia’s journey takes her into the secrets of 1950-1970s Australia—shotgun marriages, hushed abortions, and forced adoptions. Hear it on Listnr.