Thursday, 15 May 2008

National Peak Overseas Adoption Support Group announced

Attorney-General, The Hon Robert McClelland MP, announced the establishment of Australia’s first National Peak Overseas Adoption Support Group.

"I am particularly pleased the Peak Group is being established. It will provide an important, national voice on the complex issues involved in intercountry adoption." Mr McClelland said.

The Group will provide advice to the Government on issues of relevance to the intercountry adoption community and enables a direct line of communication between them.

"The Peak Group is one initiative the Rudd Government is taking to improve Australia's intercountry adoption system. Other measures include working closely with the States and Territories to deal with harmonisation of fees and procedures across Australia"

Mr McClelland said, "The Rudd Government is committed to reducing the bureaucratic barriers to intercountry adoption, while always ensuring the interests of the child are put first"

The establishment of the Peak Group follows a recommendation in the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services’ report, Overseas Adoption in Australia.

"The 16 representatives all have personal experience in the area and bring enthusiasm and expertise to the new consultative body," Mr McClelland said.

The representatives are:

Dr Gary Banks
Mrs Ricky Brisson
Ms Aileen Berry
Mrs Marilyn Nagesh
Mr Richard Hughes
Mr Mark Byrne
Mrs Sonya Mahoney
Ms Eun Bryan
Ms Helen Edwards
Mr Mark Stewart
Mr John Ford
Ms Julia Rollings
Ms Julie Rankin
Ms Lynelle Beveridge
Dr Lucy Burns
Ms Marianne Saliba
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference for the National Peak Overseas Adoption Support Group are to:

Provide advice on intercountry adoption matters referred by the Attorney-General or the Attorney-General’s Department,
Provide advice to the Attorney-General or the Attorney-General’s Department on issues of relevance to the intercountry adoption community as identified by the Group, in consultation with the intercountry adoption community, and
Inform the intercountry adoption community of the issues being considered by the Group, where appropriate.
Appointments to the National Peak Overseas Adoption Support Group
Dr Gary Banks: Dr Banks is an adoptive parent and a clinical psychologist with 20 years experience. His professional background includes child and family assessments, as well as research and training. Dr Banks is a member of the Executive Committee of ASIAC. ASIAC is a key NSW support organisation and one that we consider important to have represented on the Peak Group.

Mrs Ricky Brisson: Mrs Brisson has been involved in intercountry adoption in Australia for 27 years and has developed extensive networks within the intercountry adoption community. Mrs Brisson is the only representative to have adopted from South America, and was involved in the negotiation and establishment of Australia’s programs with a number of South American countries. Mrs Brisson is the founder of a number of adoption support and aid organisations and continues to be a very vocal member of the NSW adoption community.

Ms Aileen Berry: Ms Berry is a co-founding member of one of the key national support organisations, Families with Children from China – Australia (FCC-A). Ms Berry is a journalist and has been a senior executive within News Limited. Ms Berry has written about, and been interviewed on, adoption issues in print media around Australia.

Mrs Marilyn Nagesh: Ms Nagesh is a co-founder of the Inter-country Adoption Resource Network and recently attended the International Conference on Adoption in India as part of the Australian delegation. Mrs Nagesh adopted a daughter from India in 1985 and has been involved in intercountry adoption for 23 years with extensive networks within Australia and India.

Mr Richard Hughes: Mr Hughes is an Executive member of AACASA, a key national group with involvement in the Ethiopian adoption program, which is one of our largest programs. Mr Hughes is also a member and former Vice President of International Adoptive Families Queensland (IAFQ), the largest state-based adoption support group in Queensland.

Mr Mark Byrne: Mr Byrne is the current President of the IAFQ. In that capacity, he recently met with officers from the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Offices of the former Attorney-General and Prime Minister. Mr Byrne is currently in the process of adopting his first child, which gives him recent experience in the very early stages of the adoption journey.

Mrs Sonya Mahoney: Mrs Mahoney is on the Executive Committee of Adoption Support for Families and Children (ASFC), which is the main adoption support group in Western Australia. She has been involved in education seminars for prospective adoptive parents. Mrs Mahoney’s extensive experience with adoptions from South Korea places her in a good position to represent the issues and interests of this important program.

Ms Eun Bryan: Ms Bryan is an adoptee from South Korea, and her experience is primarily as an adoptee. Ms Bryan is also well placed to represent all of the WA adoptive community.

Ms Helen Edwards: Ms Edwards is the current Chair of the SA adoption consultative forum and the Chair of the Adoption Support Committee of World Families Australia (one of the main SA based adoption support organisations). Ms Edwards has particular experience with adoption of older and special needs children. Ms Edwards is an active member of the SA adoptive community.

Mr Mark Stewart: Mr Stewart is the President and co-founder of the South Australian Chinese Adoption Support Inc. Mr Stewart has adopted from China and is an active member of the SA adoptive community.

Ms Julia Rollings: Ms Rollings has extensive adoption experience and has adopted from three different overseas countries. Her experience also involves adoption of sibling groups and children with special needs. Ms Rollings has 21 years of active involvement in intercountry adoption and has held various positions, including President on the Adoptive Families Association (ACT), which is the main adoption support group in the ACT.

Mr John Ford: Mr Ford has adopted children from the Philippines and is a member of the adoption support group, Accepting Children Everywhere.

Ms Julie Rankin: Ms Rankin is currently the Secretary of Adoptions NT, which is the main adoption support group in the NT. Ms Rankin has adopted from the Philippines and is an active member of the NT adoption community.

Ms Lynelle Beveridge: Ms Beveridge is an adoptee from Vietnam and is the founder of the Intercountry Adoptee Support Network, which encompasses members from around Australia and overseas. Ms Beveridge has extensive networks throughout the intercountry adoption community and is well recognised throughout Australia from her involvement since 1998.

Dr Lucy Burns: Dr Burns is an adoptive parent, researcher and author. She has previously held a number of positions on support organisations, including President of the Australian Society of Intercountry Aid for Children NSW (ASIAC). Her book Adopting Overseas: A Guide to Adopting from Australia (2007) is the only contemporary Australian overseas adoption resource of its kind. She has been involved with a variety of professional, government and community-based committees, including those involved with adoption. Dr Burns is also the only representative who has adoption experience with Thailand.

Ms Marianne Frances Saliba: Ms Saliba is a former member of NSW State Parliament’s Legislative Assembly, a foster carer and adoptive parent. In 2007 Ms Saliba retired from politics after serving 8 years as Member for Illawarra. Ms Saliba is a member of the Australian Society of Intercountry Aid for Children (ASIAC).

Source: Ministerial Media Release

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