Alternatives to local, known child and intercountry adoptions
Third-party parental care arrangements
For children and young people in out-of-home care, the importance of achieving permanency and stability is widely recognised and has been reflected in jurisdictional changes in policy and legislation across Australia (AIHW 2016).
These have focused on early planning for permanent placement of children in need, including alternative long-term care arrangements such as:
- carer (known child) adoption
- care and protection orders that transfer guardianship and custody to carers, known as third-party parental care arrangements.
- 1,288 third-party parental responsibility orders were issued across Australia
- 70% were from New South Wales (451) and Victoria (445) (Supplementary table S15).
More information on third-party parental care arrangements can be found in the Permanency outcomes for children in out-of-home care: indicators report.
Legislative changes introduced by state and territory departments over the past 25 years have supported greater use of alternative legal orders. This has not only contributed to the decline in adoption numbers but has also given children alternative pathways to permanency.
In Victoria, permanent care orders were introduced in 1992 which transfer sole responsibility for a child to a person other than the parent, in most cases, to relatives or carers with whom the child is currently living. This often replaces the need for adoption (see Appendix B).
In Western Australia, protection orders (special guardianship) provide for parental responsibility to an individual, or 2 individuals jointly, for a child until they turn 18.
Visa applications and expatriate adoptions
The Department of Home Affairs provides visa and citizenship application data to the AIHW to inform expatriate and other intercountry adoption practices, such as known child intercountry. Expatriate adoptions occur outside of the Australian intercountry adoption program, and are not included in national counts.
In 2021–22, 90 Adoption visas were issued to adopted children of Australians seeking to return to Australia with the child (Supplementary table S18). These include visas:
- for children adopted by expatriate Australians through an overseas adoption authority
- for adoptions arranged and supported by Australian adoption authorities.