Forced Adoption under the guise of child protection – Jeremy Sammut, Miranda Devine and the Murdoch Media

There is now a concerted effort to reintroduce Forced Adoption under the guise of child protection by Dr. Jeremy Sammut, Miranda Devine and those who have in the past or do now, benefit either financially or emotionally from the permanent separation of children, usually babies, from their vulnerable families.

Sammut presents an economically focused argument in the above paper – he cites the blow out in cost of the Out of Home Care Industry and a rise in child abuse for promoting adoption that follows the US model.  The issue though is far more complex. Not least is the fact that the demographics in the US are totally different from those here in Australia.  Over reporting and mandatory reporting by certain professionals has meant that a lot more children have ended up in foster care.  Once in care there is a reluctance to reunite children with their families.  Hence though the percentage of children in care has risen considerably since 2001 the actual number of children going into care each year has not changed much and in some states it has fallen –

Excerpt from Part 4: The Making of a New Stolen Generation

Claire Tilbury conducted research that identified the reasons for the increased number of children in the foster care system.  The focus has been on quick removal rather than family preservation.  Children are going into care at younger ages and staying longer. Tilbury stated there are a number of dynamics at play creating obstacles for a child being reunited with its family or for family preservation strategies being implemented.  Hence over time there has been an accumulation of children in the out-of –home care system. Could this be the result of privatising the care industry – as placing and keeping a child in foster care is financially expedient for the non-government organisations now contracted to facilitate care?  The fact children are kept in care longer coupled with the impact of mandatory reporting creates another problem, there are not enough reputable foster carers, hence state contractors have employed foster carers that are not properly screened.[i]  This has led to numerous complaints and currently many carers are under investigation.  This is discussed later.

It is important for policy considerations to understand the real reason for the increase in the number children in care otherwise there will be implementation of very poor public policy. A case in point is Goward’s introduction of the punitive legislation that underpins Forced Adoption which she justifies by stating it is to curb the increase of children in foster care and to provide more stability in placement.  Unfortunately this  speaks more to her pro adoption agenda than resolution of a societal problem.  For instance, at 30 June 2001, there were 18,241 children in out-of-home care across Australia.  By 30 June 2008, this had risen by 73.6% to 31,166 children.  The prevalence rate of children in care increased from 3.9 per 1000 in 2001 to 6.3 per 1000 in 2008.  However, there had been little change in the number per year of children entering out-of-home care across Australia over the period.[ii] A total of 12,030 children were admitted to out-of-home care across Australia in 2000-2001 compared with 12,891 in 2007-2008, an increase of 7.2%.  The rate per 1000 of admissions to out-of-home care across Australia in that period increased slightly from 2.5 to 2.6 per 1000. Hence the inflow each year has remained steady. In some states, the rate of admissions declined.  In Victoria the number of admissions increased over the period by just 1%.  In NSW the number of admissions decreased by 1.7% from 4,542 to 4,467 over the 8 year period.[iii]

Mandatory reporting differs across states and territories. This impacts on the number of children placed in out-of-home care in the various jurisdictions For instance, the persons who may report, the criteria used to determine types and levels of abuse that meet notification requirements are not uniform across Australia.[iv]  An example of which is the following case study which highlights the fact that even after abuse in the foster care industry was exposed the numbers admitted to care increased sharply.

A Crime and Misconduct Commission Inquiry into the abuse of children in foster care commenced implementation in 2004.[v]  The Commission investigated allegations of sexual and physical abuse of children in foster care. There were two investigations of misconduct conducted on officers of the Department of Families and “many other complaints” against departmental officers accessed. In short children removed from their families supposedly for their protection were placed with individuals who sexually and physically abused them. When officers were alerted to the abuse they failed to remove the child from their foster homes.[vi] The Report identified significant failings within the child protection system and concluded that “over a long period of time the Queensland child protection system itself failed to deliver the support and services required for children at risk of abuse”.  It recommended a serious overhaul of the system.[vii]  However Claire Tilbury noted: “It is ironic that an inquiry finding widespread abuse of children in foster care should be followed by a spike in admissions of children to foster care”.[viii]

An explanation for this spike may be that in 2005 nurses were included as mandatory reporters in Queensland under the  Public Health Act 2005 (Qld.) sect 191 & 192.[ix]  Additionally Queensland mandatory reporting is wide and includes notification if the person has a reason to suspect the child is “likely to be harmed”  by any person (not just those who reside in the same domicile) and includes the criteria of psychological and/or emotional abuse.[x]  Tilbury concludes: “Queensland data are largely responsible for a “status quo” rate of children entering care every year for Australia.  If Queensland was out of the picture, or showed the same pattern as other jurisdictions, the entry rate to care each year would have declined Australia-wide”.[xi]  Tilbury hypothesised that the number of children in foster care increased over the 8 years of her research because “reunification efforts waned as permanency planning captured policy attention”. And that “adversarial stances with parents have contributed to concentrating the permanency debate on adoption and permanent care orders”, rather than alternative options for stability such as keeping the family intact.[xii]

The Commission suggested that reunifications were not undertaken as there existed a conflict of interest with protection workers who on the one hand made the notification about the child being at risk and on the other selected the foster carers. To avoid this conflict it recommended that these two functions should be conducted by separate entities in which case the child had a better chance of reunification with its family.[xiii] The recommendations of this report were not heeded.  This had led to the recent damning report by the latest inquiry into the Queensland care industry.  Commissioner Carmody stating that there were systemic failures made worse by significant over reporting with the protection industry failing to protect the most vulnerable.  He said there should be a “better system to support families and avoid children being put into state care” in the first place.[xiv]    Babies and toddlers under 3 however, are to be fast tracked to adoption.[xv]  I will discuss this later. The Queensland government has accepted the major provision of the Inquiry that: “Parents and families should take primary responsibility for the protection of their children and that, where appropriate, parents should receive the support and guidance they need to keep their children safe. It is only as a last resort that the government should intervene in a statutory role to ensure the protection of children who are at significant risk of harm”.[xvi]

[i] Hanna, B. (2013).  Agents, Stewards and Co-Producers: Using theory to examine the outsourcing of out-of-home care in NSW, Unpublished Masters of Politics and Public Policy, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University

[ii] Tilbury, D. (2009). ‘A ‘Stock and Flow’ analysis of Australian Child Protection Data, Communities, Children and Families Australia, 4(2), p. 12.

[iii] ibid

[iv] Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect (2013). AIFS

[v] Brendan Butler. (2004, Jan).  Protecting Children: An Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Foster Care,  Crime and Misconduct Commission Queensland, p. v.

[vi] ibid

[vii] Ibid p. v

[viii] Tilbury, D. (2009). ‘A ‘Stock and Flow’ analysis of Australian Child Protection Data, Communities, Children and Families Australia, 4(2), p. 14.

[ix] Mathews, B. P., Walsh, K. M., Farrell, A. & Butler, D. A. (2006). ‘Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect: legislative developments and questions for future direction’. In, Protect All Children Today Conference, Sept, 2006, Brisbane, Australia; Mandatory notifiers and reporting

[x] ibid

[xi] Tilbury, D. (2009). ‘A ‘Stock and Flow’ analysis of Australian Child Protection Data, Communities, Children and Families Australia, 4(2), p. 14.

[xii] Ibid p. 15

[xiii] Brendan Butler. (2004, Jan).  Protecting Children: An Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Foster Care,  Crime and Misconduct Commission Queensland, p. 96.

[xiv] ‘Queensland inquiry recommends pulling back on child abuse reporting’, (2013, July). National Affairs,

[xv] Michael Madigan, (2013, Dec 16).  ‘Child protection revolution to adopt suffering toddlers out of hell’, The Courier-Mail,

[xvi] Queensland Government Response to the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry Final Report: Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection. (2013, Dec). Queensland Government (Foreword)

Pru Goward who has jumped on the pro adoption bandwagon is a case study on what politicians say before an election and their position afterwards – it also reveals the effect powerful lobby groups have on Australian politics:

Excerpt Part 4: A Stolen Generation in the Making

Prue Goward misled the people of New South Wales.  Before being elected to government she stated that she was going to “adopt a family preservation model” and  stop overloading the foster care system making it unsafe for children.[1] After the election,  rather than focusing on supporting families so they could reunite the policy suddenly changed to permanent removal of their children through adoption.  Giving families rigid time frames, without supportive services, to get their lives in order otherwise lose their kids forever.[2]   Before elected she complained that the number of children removed from their families was “out of control” and that NSW  “removes more children than any other state”. [3]  She promised if the Coalition won government it would work to reduce removals “By working more with families” and that “there would be far fewer removals with children being safer”. Goward blamed the expansion of mandatory reporting for burdening the system, the taxpayer and making the system inefficient.[4]

Once elected however, Goward did a complete turn around.  No longer was the  foster care system ‘so overloaded it was failing’. She claimed it was because the annual budget for out-of-home care had doubled from $304 million in 2004-2005 to $694 million in 2010-2011 because of “the increasing number of abused and neglected children”.[5]  The budget had blown out, but for all the reasons Goward had identified prior to her election, not because more children were being abused.  This was a complete distortion of the truth.

[1] Jones, G. (2011, Mar 3).  ‘NSW Coalition plan for kids in care to return to their families’, Daily Telegraph

[2] Tovey, J. (2011, Nov 11). ‘Children to get families not foster care’, SMH, ; Barnardos Australia Submission to Queensland Child Protection Inquiry September 2012,

[3] ABC News. (2011, Mar). ‘NSW Govt condemns Opposition’s foster care plan’,

[4] Jones, G. (2011, Mar 3).  ‘NSW Coalition plan for kids in care to return to their families’, Daily Telegraph,

[5] Smith, A. (2011, June 23). ‘Children at risk to miss out on $1.3b’, SMH,

What is Sammut’s motivation and who is he aligned with? For the answers please read:

Excerpt Part 5: The Making of a New Stolen Generation:

Louise Voigt who sits on a panel with adoption activist Deborra Lee Furness [8] and has the ear of Pru Goward,[9] lobbied the Queensland government to adopt out the babies of dysfunctional families, because she claimed it was unreasonable to think they could be rehabilitated.[10]  To support her argument she uses the work of eugenicist,[11] Jeremy Sammut,  who she cites stating:

“The only effective and affordable way to protect children from dysfunctional parents … is early statutory intervention and permanent removal by means of adoption by suitable families”.[12]

[8] Clair Weaver, (2013, Nov 11). ‘Debora-Lee Furness launches fight for Australia’s ‘critical’ adoption situation’, Women’s Weekly, ; National Press Club: Adoption Crisis Forum, (2013, Nov 13). Speakers Deborra-Lee furness, Dr. Jane Aronson, Dr Karyn Purvis and Louise Voigt

[9] Peter Lloyd (2013, Dec 19). ‘New taskforce to make adoption easier’, ABC PM, Emma Griffiths. (2013, Dec 19). ‘Tony Abbott announces new measures to simplify adoption within a year’, ABC News

[10] With respect  to family preservation Louse Voigt states: “there is … a consistent, but often unreasoned, belief that social welfare professionals can bring about significant change in entrenched behaviour of parents which is highly questionable” see Voigt, L. (2013). ‘Social Impact Bond Schemes & Service Providers’,  Social Finance Forum – 7-8 August, A presentation by Louise Voigt, CEO and Director of Welfare, Barnardos Australia on 8 August, at p. 6

[11] Sammut cites extensively eugenicist Charles Murray in his Centre for Independent Studies  Issue Analysis (‘The Fraught Politics of Saying sorry for Forced Adoption, Implications for Child Protection Policy’ (2012, p. 8))  to support his argument that giving welfare to single mothers will create  “an underclass”. Sammut states: “The tragic reality is that there is a growing underclass of inadequate parents who are not fit to care for children, which includes disproportionate numbers of single-mother families”. Murray in a widely discussed 1993 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal (‘The Coming White Underclass’), described illegitimacy as “the single most important social problem of our time, more important than crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare or homelessness because it drives everything else”. The heart of this problem, according to Murray, who also spoke in November 1994 on This Week with David Brinkley, is that “we have too many babies living in communities without fathers … [white illegitimacy] is overwhelmingly a lower-class phenomenon” Murray cited in  Barbara Yngvesson, (1997).  ‘Negotiating Motherhood: Identity and Difference in “Open” Adoptions’, Law & Society Review, 31(1), pp. 31-80 at p. 39.  Prime Minister Tony Abbott clearly influenced by the above 2 eugenicists stated that adoption should be promoted for the children of “parents who are not effective”  see  Emma Griffiths. (2013, Dec 19). ‘Tony Abbott announces new measures to simplify  adoption within a year’, ABC News

[12] Barnardos Australia Submission to Queensland Child Protection Inquiry September 2012,

Excerpt Part 6: The Making of a New Stolen Generation

The Centre for Independent Studies based at St. Leonards is a right wing think tank that has an agenda of cutting or removing all welfare. It is aligned with neo-liberals in the US.  It has come out strongly against family preservation attacking individuals who want to keep families intact as child abusers.  Jeremy Sammut from the CIS states “Family preservation profoundly harms children”. He accuses single mothers who receive benefits as creating  “an underclass”  that are significantly over represented in child abuse cases. Elements of the Australian Government that belong to the secretive Lyons Forum, a right wing radical anti-abortion, Christian group,  have links with the CIS. See Kate Murphy, Marian Quartly, Denise Cuthbert, (2009). ‘In the Best Interests of the Child” Mapping the (Re) Emergence of Pro-Adoption Politics in Contemporary Australia, Australian Journal of  Politics & History,55(2), pp. 201-218, June.


Jeremy Sammut and the Centre for Independent Studies’ ideology  is aligned with that of Rupert Murdoch’s – small government, low taxes and stigmatising welfare recipients:

Some of Murdoch’s media tactics included tracking welfare recipients use of their credit cards which Jordan Beudry states has become:

“a pastime for the conservative media. In January (2014) Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post revealed that welfare recipients made dozens of ATM withdrawals at a handful of porn and liquor stores across New York City during an 18-month span … The sentiment behind these investigations was summarized by Michael Tanner of the Cano Institute: ‘ … If you are poor it’s a crummy life and you want to have a drink or see a naked woman … I blame the people who are in charge …’ (of giving welfare benefits) … Mr Tanner’s statement paints low-income folks as drunks with crummy lives who want to party on the taxpayer dime … The entire purpose of reports like these seems to be advocating for the prejudices of Mr. Tanner’s lot.  This narrative is the latest line of attack in a smear campaign that stretches back even further than the phrase  “welfare queen”. Once these stereotypes are planted in the public consciousness it becomes that much easier for conservative lawmakers to swoop in with discriminatory legislation”.

Murdoch’s media is pro adoption and very anti bio families if they are vulnerable – (For example see the Murdoch press promotion of adoption in the UK – Stolen Babies Broken Hearts (Ch. 2) – linked on the Blog – and examine the Furness/Murdoch alliance in my article: Parallels between Domestic and Intercountry Adoption).

September 2013 Murdoch tweeted:

Rupert Murdoch Verified account‏@rupertmurdoch Sep 7

“Aust election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy. Others nations to follow in time”.


Articles like the one cited below are appearing with more regularity in Murdoch’s The Australian:

Adoptions not forced –

It is a short opinion piece authored by Rita Carroll, adoptive mother, who gave misleading information to the Inquiry into Overseas Adoptions wherein she claimed that only 8 women gave evidence to the NSW Inquiry into Past Adoption Practices (1998-2000) and that since the laws were changed in 1991 to open adoption files (primarily so that adoptees could access their birth information) Australia was anti-adoption. The anti adoption line has been used extensively by the media to discredit any criticism of the past abuse inherent in Forced Adoption. Interestingly Pru Goward has refused to make public 303 submissions given by mothers to the NSW Inquiry, as was promised they would be when we initially provided them.

Carroll states with respect to the number of Inquiries into adoption:

“While all these have acknowledged the grief expressed by relinquishing mothers who instigated these inquiries, it has yet to be proved that consent signatures were forced.

It is known in the adoptive community that many families who had an adopted child were approached to take another child soon after because orphanages were filled to capacity as many young girls were either unable or unwilling to embark on the life of a single mother. There was little need to force adoptions.

It would be wrong to award compensation from taxpayers’ money to women 30 to 40 years after the event, particularly as these claims seem to be based on anecdotal evidence.”

Rita Carroll, Coorparoo, Qld

More recently (April 27) Carroll has jumped on the Sammut bandwagon citing his research position has support for her pro adoption anti mother agenda – this is a typical response of those who have benefited from adoption (either financially or emotionally) – grab the one piece of research that supports their position and minimise the damage adoption causes and all the now copious research that supports that damage (See Stolen Babies Broken Hearts, Ch. 2 – under links on the blog)

Rita Carroll seems intent on stigmatising and denigrating a minority group: unwed mothers – white or black. One only has to read the Submission she and other adopters submitted to the Inquiry into overseas adoption to be aware of the bigotry they hold towards unwed mothers

(or just google Submission 56 Inquiry into Overseas Adoption for the PDF format)

Carroll was President of the Adoptive Parents Privacy Protection Group and as far as I am aware still a member of the Australian Council for Adoption – previously the National Council For Adoption

See Stolen Babies Broken Hearts, Chapter 1

“Many working in the adoption industry or those that

benefited by it dismiss mothers when they speak out as a: ‘Noisy few unable to get

on with their lives’ or just dismiss them as being anti-adoption (Carroll & Law cited

in HRSCFHS: 2005, Brisbane, July 21, pp. 24-25, 27; Brown: 2012; Sammut:

2012a). Even in the present those who wish to promote adoption to vulnerable

young pregnant women lie about the grief they will suffer, and ridicule those who

try and warn them (Narey: 2011, The Times, July 5). The current pro-adoption

program that is being run in Britain is a painful reminder of past such programs and

again states that many mothers are ‘happy with their decision to become

‘birthmothers’’ and that many do not grieve (Narey: 2011, The Times, July 5).”

The Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch – it ran a pro adoption campagin for a number of months.  Martin Narey cited above was the CEO of Barnardos UK.  His counterpart in Australia: Louise Voigt is presently engaged in promoting Barnardos Open Adoption Program to state governments.


The most vocal and vitriolic of the far right though would have to be Murdoch journalist: Miranda Devine:

In the above article Devine blames falling adoption numbers for the increase in child abuse and the high numbers of children in foster care. She regurgitates Sammut’s eugenic ideology contained in the very first article I have cited:

“The backlash over past forced adoptions has consigned two generations of children to lives of hell with dysfunctional families, which are not families anyone would recognise, just a birth mother and her feckless, often violent boyfriends.

Since the 1970s authorities have striven to keep these “families” intact at any cost. Drug addiction, mental illness, laziness, whatever the sad circumstances of the adults, there is no excuse for repeating the cycle with innocent children.”

Devine in her intolerant bigoted article is clearly trying to generate hate towards survivors of Forced Adoption and stigmatise unwed mothers generally.  Doesn’t Devine know that in Australia the stereotypical single mother is 33 years old, has been formerly married and is struggling to bring up 2 teenage children. She is on benefits for an average of 3 years.  Less than 3% are teenage mothers, one of the smallest proportions of teenage motherhood in the western world. They are most likely supported by their parents and are on benefits for an average of 12 months. Like I mentioned before the demographics between Australia and the US are entirely different so to impose a US model – one that is highly criticised globally – is a nonsense.

As for the rubbish that social workers and medical staff suddenly became focused on preserving vulnerable families, such as unwed mothers and their newborn,  in the 1970s shows her absolute ignorance.  What happened Ms Devine is the civil rights movement.  Mothers began speaking out about the atrocities taking place in the adoption industry. They formed organisations like CHUMS and joined Parents without Partners and the National Council for the Single Mother and her Child was formed in 1969.  Mothers mounted legal cases.  Adoptees returned to the hospitals where they were born looking for information about their real parents.  They complained of suffering mental health problems and many spoke out about the abusive adoptive homes they had been placed into. Social Workers who had been part of the system could no longer justify the brutality of separating mother and child under the very misused lable: “In the child’s best interests”. These adults were returning and telling them adoption had not been in their interests, but in that of their adoptive parents.

Additionally it seems that Devine is unaware that nearly 10,000 babies were taken in 1972 and that the abuse of taking a newborn from its mother against her will did not stop until 1982 when a circular went around warning medical and social work staff that they were acting illegally and that this could result in the adoption being overturned if contested!!!

She like Jeremy Sammut,  has been very outspoken against us receiving an apology:

In the above Devine states:

“Gillard and Abbott’s speeches at Thursday’s formal apology for past adoption practices illustrate the point.

Gillard’s speech was mechanical, empty, and pandered to the sense of grievance and victimhood that real leadership avoids. It even contained a seed of discord in its attempt to match Rudd’s stolen generation apology, which is regarded by some as his finest moment.

Abbott’s speech by contrast was real, inclusive, and rooted in his own painful youthful experience of a former girlfriend’s unplanned pregnancy and the baby they adopted out. He could not have expressed more sympathy for the women who lost their babies to forced adoption, but he also paid tribute to birth fathers and adoptive parents ….. But as the hecklers demonstrated, the stigma against adoption now defies common sense and the best interests of children in an era of escalating child abuse and neglect. The apology only made it worse.

As the Centre for Independent Studies’ Dr Jeremy Sammut writes in a new report on adoption: “In reaction to past forced adoption practices, Australian child protection authorities believe in family preservation at nearly all costs, which profoundly harms children by prolonging the time they spend in the custody of abusive or neglectful parents, or in temporary foster care.

Gillard’s speech ignored the harms of demonising adoption and played to its audience. It brought rapturous reviews: her “finest” moment”.


So it seems Devine  has become another mouthpiece for the Centre for Independent Studies and the extreme right,  she states:  “There are a few things this government could apologise for.   Adoption is not one of them.

Nevertheless, in an exercise as cynical as it is pointless, one of Julia Gillard’s first acts of 2013 will be a formal apology for past adoption practices.  Thus another class of victims is created in Australia”.   ….   Today we have banished all stigma, so it is perfectly tolerable for young women to have babies to a variety of feckless men on the taxpayer tab, leaving the children vulnerable to sexual abuse, violence and neglect. This is an epidemic.

Damaged children are growing up and inflicting the same Hobbesian chaos on their own children. That truly is a horror of our history. Will we be apologising for it in 40 years? We should.”

Apologising for adoption is stealing a gift, writes Miranda Devine:

“But was adoption really the “horror of our history” that a Senate Committee chaired by Greens MP Rachel Siewert concluded this year?

We are judging the past by the standards of the present, with moral arrogance.

Who are we to judge that we are superior to our forebears? On evidence such as child abuse and neglect we certainly are not.”


Aren’t journalists supposed to check their facts before publishing an article?  The Senate Inquiry concluded after hearing all the evidence that medical staff and social workers who forcibly stole our babies acted ILLEGALLY, UNETHICALLY AND IMMORALLY under the LAWS of the DAY. This supported the findings of Justice Richard Chisholm in the Inquiry into past practices in Adoption conducted by the NSW Upper House (1998-2000}. An Inquiry in which it was acknowledged that we were part of another Stolen Generation.


It is easy to see the media campaign is to confound adoption with child protection – so if anyone speaks out about the damage forced adoption causes they are accused of supporting child abuse. Victims are effectively silenced and once again the forced removal of infants (usually under 3)  to meet the demands of middle class infertile couples becomes acceptable. All under the banner of “cutting red tape” or the other catchphrase making it  “easier quicker and cheaper to adopt”.  History is repeating itself – except for the fact this time we have social media – so please speak out



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For Bio info click on - About - tab and 'A bit about me' Dr. Christine A. Cole Convenor Apology Alliance Australia
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1 Response to Forced Adoption under the guise of child protection – Jeremy Sammut, Miranda Devine and the Murdoch Media

  1. Pingback: PM Malcolm Turnbull’s push for adoption: Adoption Awareness Week | Apology Alliance Australia

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