Archives seeks rural people who experienced forced adoption for project

Media release: Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The National Archives of Australia invites rural and regional people affected by or having experience with forced adoption, to participate in a project aimed at increasing awareness of the practice and impact of these experiences.

The Forced Adoptions History Project is part of the Federal Government's response to a Senate inquiry that found Australian women were incontrovertibly coerced into giving up their babies for adoption by people and institutions including their families, doctors, hospital staff and religious organisations.

Many women experienced forced adoptions in the era following WWII but the report found the practice peaked during the period from 1950 to mid-1970. The inquiry established that a number of affected people were young, unmarried girls from the rural and regional areas of Australia.

Many girls were pressured by parents into believing their ex-nuptial pregnancies brought shame and stigma upon their families. Many were sent from their homes and towns, sometimes interstate, to lying-in homes or maternity wards for unmarried mothers in the city.

Other pregnant women received support from families but were later coerced by social workers, doctors, almoners, nurses and the heads of religious organisations into giving up their babies to married couples.

The Archives would like to hear from any affected or interested people.

Alternatively, you can contact the project's email forcedadoptionshistory@naa.gov.au or phone 02 6212 3669. A Forced Adoptions History Project Facebook page will also be launched in October.

The Archives will launch a website to facilitate the sharing of forced adoption experiences on the first anniversary of the National Apology on Friday 21 March 2014.

An exhibition to tour the country including regional areas will be launched on the second anniversary on Saturday 21 March 2015.

Contact information

  • Katrina Iffland (Media Officer, National Archives Forced Adoptions History Project)
    t (02) 6212 3669 e forcedadoptionshistory@naa.gov.au

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