New Shadow Child Protection Minister Libby Mettam has written to the Premier calling for an inquiry into the systematic removal of newborns from their mothers’ care under historic adoption policies and practises in Western Australia.
Ms Mettam said the forced removal of children was a dark chapter in the state’s history that had left many with lifelong unresolved trauma.
“I have asked the Premier to conduct a Parliamentary Inquiry in an attempt to bring a degree of resolution and potential reconnection to those impacted by this practise,” Ms Mettam said.
“In 2010, the WA Parliament was the first jurisdiction in Australia to apologise to unwed mothers for the removal of newborns, yet we are still one of the last states left to conduct an inquiry into this issue.
“In 2010 the now Premier said the apology was ‘a start’ and I believe the women and their families who endured these practises deserve more than an apology from the State.”
Ms Mettam said there were many elderly mothers who wanted to tell their now adult sons and daughters that they were not willingly given up for adoption.
“I strongly believe they should be given this opportunity of a platform for their experiences and concerns and to help end years of suffering,” she said.
“Just as importantly, I understand that many of those who were removed from their mothers want to see urgent legislative reform that will allow them easy access to their birth records and birth identity.
“The practise of forced adoption from the 1940s to the 1980s still holds many unknowns around the number of mothers and children in WA who were impacted by the practise.
“I believe that an inquiry into this issue is an important step towards acknowledging the anguish and suffering experienced by these women and to help identify the best actions for possible remediation.
“I am willing to work with the Government to establish the inquiry and develop the terms of reference.”