24 June 2015

Mr WYNNE (Minister for Planning) — I rise to make a very brief contribution to the debate on the Adoption Amendment Bill 2015. I contributed to the debate on the adoption legislation that was debated in the house in the previous Parliament, and there was vigorous opposition from our side of the house, particularly to the provisions that related to criminalising the behaviour of relinquishing mothers who were seeking to make contact with their children. My experience of adoption is directly related to my own family. One of my sisters adopted two children, whom she raised in a beautiful and caring environment, although she was always acutely aware of ensuring that opportunities were made available to those children to make contact with their birth mothers. In one circumstance that did occur; for her other child, it did not. It was not wished for, and it was not fulfilled.

I want to acknowledge the contribution of the member for Carrum, because her contribution today spoke so powerfully of the pain of women who had their children taken off them in all sorts of circumstances. We as a Parliament will continue the victimisation of these women going forward if we continue to have a criminal sanction in place for women who simply want to have acknowledged that deep primal urge to make contact with their children. Is there anything more powerful than that? We as a Parliament ought to say in an unambiguous way, ‘Set aside those roadblocks. This is fundamentally unfair’. It is wrong and it is further victimising women.

As the member for Carrum spoke so powerfully about, for 40 years her mother has suffered, and we should not let that suffering continue. This is an important amendment. It is an election commitment of the Andrews government, and I say with all sincerity to the opposition, ‘Please reconsider your position between now and the debate in the upper house. Think about the contribution made by the member for Carrum. Think about these women, some who may well be in this Parliament today, who have carried this burden for their entire lives. Let us free them from it’. I commend the bill to the house.

Debate adjourned on motion of Ms SPENCE (Yuroke).

Debate adjourned until later this day.