Labor to provide legal recognition for Torres Strait Islander traditional adoption

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Children Elections Familes Indigenous & Heritage Political Queensland Government

A re-elected Palaszczuk Government will provide legal recognition and respect thousands of years of continuous cultural practice by introducing new laws that legally recognise the outcomes achieved by Torres Strait Island families' continued use of traditional adoption.
Communities Minister and Ministerial Champion for the Torres Strait Shannon Fentiman said untold generations of Torres Strait Islanders had supported their children and each other with traditional parenting approaches.
"These practices have meant generations of loving, caring homes but these extended family relationships have not been fully recognised by Australian law in the same way as Western Adoption," Ms Fentiman said.
"This has meant Torres Strait Islander children being cared for by traditional adoptive parents have been unable to do things we take for granted, such as have a passport in their own name.
"This will be an historic piece of legislation that will ensure Torres Strait Islander children and adults who have been part of this traditional family structure can have their legal identity, including their birth certificate, match their cultural identity."
Ms Fentiman said Labor's candidate for Cook, Cynthia Lui, had been a passionate advocate for legal recognition and had consistently lobbied for reform.
"Cynthia Lui has been a strong and consistent advocate for the work of the
Working Party that was formed as far back as 1990 to push for recognition," Ms Fentiman said.
"In just three years we have revived the consultation process that was left to wither under the LNP and we are ready to commit to passing legislation in the next term of Government."
Ms Lui, who if elected will be the first Torres Strait Islander to sit in the Queensland Parliament, said several governments had considered legal recognition but the Palaszczuk Government would actually deliver.
"Traditional adoption, while similar in outcomes for families and children, is not based on a Western understanding of adoption and since 1985 when the then Queensland Government determined that this practice was beyond the scope of the Queensland's existing adoptions laws, families have been left in legal limbo," Ms Lui said.
"Torres Strait Islanders have long sought legal recognition of the outcomes they are achieving for children and families and we will provide that recognition.
"If elected, I will be incredibly proud to be part of a Labor Government that provides legal recognition for this practice that has been part of Islander culture since time immemorial."
"There would not be a Torres Strait Islander family in Queensland that is not touched in some way by the continued use of traditional adoption."
Ms Lui said it was important to acknowledge the Working Party of the "Kupai Omasker" Torres Strait Islander Child Rearing Practices for its decades of work in making legal recognition of traditional adoption possible.
"It has taken decades of work for this reform to achieve the commitment that the Labor Government is making today, and many people have contributed to this landmark moment," she said.
"It will be a proud moment as a Torres Strait Islander woman to vote to pass this legislation in the Parliament."
The legislation to recognise traditional adoption will be developed in close consultation with Queensland's Torres Strait Islander community and an eminent person will be appointed to help that process.
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Mark Furner said he was proud to be part of a government that would make this change.
"On becoming Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, I quickly became aware of traditional adoption and its precious place in the lives of the people of the Torres Strait.
"It is a deeply-meaningful practice, held dear by generations of Torres Strait Islanders.
"As Minister, I am extremely proud to serve in a government prepared to show such care and respect for the cultural customs of these important and valued Queenslanders."
Legal recognition of traditional adoptions will be based on three key principles:
  • Consent of the birth parents;
  • Suitability of adoptive parents; and
  • The rights and best interest of the child throughout their life.
The Palaszczuk Government will set aside $1 million to cover the implementation of this historic legislation.
Queensland Labor :
Level 1, 16 Peel Street, South Brisbane Qld 4101, Queensland Wide
07 3844 8101
Queensland Labor
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