Forced Adoptions History Project

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    Forced Adoptions History Project

    Following the national apology by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard on 21 March 2013, the National Archives established a project team to deliver a website, exhibition and education program that meets the objectives of:

    • increasing awareness and understanding of experiences of individuals affected by forced adoption practices
    • identifying and sharing experiences of forced adoption.

    In working on these developments, the Archives is conscious of the personal and emotional nature of these experiences, which former Prime Minister Julia Gillard described as having contributed to 'a lifelong legacy of pain and suffering' for many Australians. The Archives wanted to ensure what was created reflects the diversity of experiences in a respectful manner.

    First anniversary of the National Apology

    To mark the first anniversary of the National Apology for Forced Adoptions, the National Archives of Australia launched the Forced Adoptions History Project website at Parliament House on 20 March 2014. At the event, the apology parchment was also unveiled for public display in the Members’ Hall of Parliament House. It will be displayed alongside the national apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.

    The website

    The development of the layout and content of the website reflects the feedback collected from the workshops.

    The website was officially launched on 20 March 2014. It featured:

    • an overview of forced adoptions and how these policies and practices occurred
    • a historical timeline of legislation and events affecting adoption and forced adoptions practices
    • information on the effects of forced adoptions on mothers, fathers, adopted people and extended families
    • the ability to share your experience, or read others’ contributions
    • information about how to access adoption records in each state and territory, including contact details for the relevant department
    • contact details of support services, including national organisations offering general support and state-based organisations that specialise in adoption support
    • adoption statistics
    • a list of references that further explore forced adoptions and related issues
    • updates on the development of the Forced Adoptions History Project exhibition and education resource
    • a glossary.

    Contribute your experiences

    The Forced Adoptions History Project is no longer accepting submissions as of 15 November 2020. 

    These experiences, from the perspective of people affected by forced adoptions, will contribute greatly to the general public’s understanding of what has occurred and how it continues to impact people’s lives.

    We intend the website to be a safe space for people to share their experiences. Each contribution will be moderated by the team before publishing to ensure that there is no content that may cause damage to others. On the website it will not be possible for others to add comments on your experience. If you would like to contribute your experience, please take your time doing so in an emotionally supported situation. The website will be open for adding experiences while the exhibition is on tour.

    Consultation and community workshops

    The Forced Adoptions History Project team worked progressively through 2013 to understand the issues surrounding forced adoptions. During this time, the team met with Professor Nahum Mushin and the Implementation Working Group as well as advocacy and support groups.

    The team hosted stakeholder engagement workshops in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. The workshops provided an opportunity for individuals to express their hopes and expectations for the website and to encourage a shared ownership of the website. The workshops included dialogue between participants and the project team, which directly influenced the design and functionality of the website.

    We thank the individuals who have generously shared their experiences and provided feedback on the website development process, as well as the organisations who have provided professional advice and support to the project.