Inquiry Adoption Practices in New South Wales

Inquiry Type
Legislative Council Social Issues Committee
Australia; New South Wales

Key Dates

1950 - 1998
Period of investigation
25 May 1998
Announcement date
June 1998 - December 2000
Period of operation
27 August 1998 - 25 October 1999
Public hearings
19 November 1998
Interim Report
21 June 1999
Interim Report
8 December 1999
Final Report


This Parliamentary Committee was established to inquire into the administration and delivery of adoption related services, particularly services around the taking of consents, offered to birth parents and children in the state of New South Wales (NSW) from 1950 to 1998. The Inquiry sought to ascertain whether these services involved unethical or unlawful practices that denied birth parents access to non adoption alternatives. The inquiry also set out to consider what services would help those hurt by such practices.

The Process
The Committee received written submissions, held public hearings and a public forum, and conducted original research.

Governing Legislation
Legislative Council Standing Orders

Governing Authority
State government of NSW

Inquiry Locations
Australia; New South Wales; Sydney

Public Hearings
Public hearings were held in Sydney.

Written Submissions
306 submissions, predominantly from survivors.

Commissioned Research
A consultant historian was engaged to conduct archival research, in particular to examine archival records.

Internal Research
The Committee Secretariat conducted background research.

Roundtable Discussions
28 survivors (mothers, fathers and adopted people) participated in a one day adoption forum held on 18 October 1999.

23 of the 57 witnesses in the public hearings were survivors. The remainder were representatives of providers and support organisations along with a small number of experts.

Of the survivor witnesses, 20 were female and 3 were male.

Maternity homes and maternity hospitals are discussed but are not the focus of the Committee's report. The institutions examined by the inquiry are single sex maternity homes and hospitals.

20 recommendations were made.The Report recommended improvements in the delivery of current adoption services and post adoption information resources, including funding for post adoption support services, parent support groups and research on impacts of past practices, removing bars to reunion, apologies and public education campaigns.

Related Inquiries
The inquiry informs the Senate Inquiry into Forced Adoptions



Final Reports


See also

  • Christine A. Cole (ed.), Releasing the past: mothers' stories of their stolen babies, Sasko Veljanov, Yagoona, N.S.W., 2008. Details

Acknowledgement: this summary was prepared by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University