1984 – Adopted adults can obtain their adoption records in Victoria

After many years of cumulative advocacy efforts by several groups, including the Geelong Adoption Program (GAP) led by Pauline Ley OAM, JIGSAW, and ARMS (Vic), and a four-year review, the 1984 Adoption Act is passed in Victorian Parliament.   

This landmark legislation introduced open adoption and enabled adopted adults to obtain their adoption records including their original birth certificate. Victoria becomes the first state in Australia and the first place in the western world to move towards open adoption.  

The dedication and negotiation skill of Pauline Toner, the then Minister for Community Welfare Services and Victoria’s first woman cabinet minister, are instrumental in getting this controversial bill through the upper house. As Mark Birrell acknowledged in Parliament: 

“Many honourable members remembered how she handled the Bill. It was a long and exhaustive consultative process, not just within the political system, but with a whole range of interested groups whose interests were conflicted.”

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