the period from the 1950s to the 1980s thousands of unmarried mothers were
forced, pressured and coerced to relinquish their newborn babies. Vulnerable
new mothers were denied information about their legal rights, the support
available to them and the alternatives to adoption. Fathers were denied the
opportunity to be a father. Children were robbed of their identity, their
parents and their families.
policy and these practices were ethically and morally wrong, in many cases
unlawful, regardless of the social mores of the time.
and midwives provided care to women during labour, birth and the days after
birth and were involved in the intimate process of separating mothers and
babies for the purpose of forced adoptions.
apologise to mothers who were not treated by nurses and midwives with dignity
and respect. We apologise for instances where nurses and midwives did not
advocate for their patient, especially where parents expressed a determination
to keep their child.
is with deep regret that ANF as an organisation did not speak out against this practice
and did not advocate for policy changes that were in the best interests of the
mother and the child.
nurses and midwives take their role as patient and client advocates very
seriously and are acutely aware of their legal and ethical responsibilities and
the trust vulnerable people place in them.
deeply regrets the incomprehensible harm caused to individuals and to families
and we call on other organisations and professions to issue a public apology
for the past.
call on State and Federal Governments to commit resources and services such as
free counselling, support, information and family-search services. The ANF
supports further legislative and regulatory reform, such as integrated birth
certificates, to make amends for taking away identities and family bonds.
hope the symbolism of a formal apology and acknowledgement that what happened
was wrong, together with practical measures to assist those affected, are the
start of making amends.
Read the Senate’s Community Affairs References Committee report ‘Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices’ released in February 2012