Courier Mail - Saturday, 2 February 1991

the year that changed everything

This year (2021) marks the 30th Anniversary of Queensland's historic adoption legislation amendments that came into effect on 1 June, 1991. The changes to the 1964 Adoption of Children Act entitled adopted people and their biological parents to receive identifying information about one another, unless the other party had lodged an objection (veto). While the amendments took effect overnight, the battle to see them into fruition was the result of almost a decade of lobbying by advocates, and a dramatic, eleventh-hour bid by a powerful lobby group called the Adoption Privacy Protection Group (APPG) threatened to see it all unravel. This page is dedicated to the mothers, fathers and adopted people who sacrificed their time and resources, often at great personal cost, to fight for the access to information and family that we have today. On their shoulders we stand. 

Anne Warner - 30 year reflection 

While collating these resources, we dove back in time to read Jigsaw’s archived minutes and newsletters from this era. What crystallised during the review was just how hard our members lobbied for these reforms and how close they came to losing the battle when powerful opposition was encountered.

 

Below we interview former Queensland MP, Anne Warner, who championed and sponsored the amendments in her role of Minister for Family Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Islander Affairs, about her recollections of this period. We asked:

  • Hearing about your early life, it occurred to us that the reason you were eventually drawn to sponsor these amendments might have been influenced by your own childhood, which was at times quite challenging. Can you share a little about it? 

  • How did you first come to hear about calls for amendments to the 1964 Adoption of Children Act? 

  • When you stepped into your Ministerial role, why did you decide to sponsor these amendments?

  • At the time, these reforms had occurred in every other jurisdiction except for Queensland, why do you think we were so slow to make these changes?

  • What is the process when writing amendments such as these?

  • At the time you first introduced the amendments, they had bipartisan support in the cabinet. And then, at the eleventh hour, the Adoption Privacy Protection Group formed to advocate to maintain closed records. What can you tell us about this?

  • You were eventually asked to make some changes to the proposed amendments. What compromises were made and how did you feel about having to make them?

  • You have said that the adoption amendments were the legislation of which you were most proud of during that time in government. Why is that?

We thank Anne Warner for her time and for sharing her recollections of this important period in Queensland adoption history. 

Victoria bridge light up 1 June 2021

On 1 June, 2021 the Victoria Bridge lit up to celebrate Jigsaw Qld's 45th birthday and to commemorate 30 years since the 1991 amendments to the Adoption of Children Act allowed access to identifying information for the first time. Jigsaw Qld gathered in reflection on the banks of the Brisbane River at South Bank with others affected by adoption. They were also joined by the former MP and Director General of the Queensland Department of Family Services and Aboriginal and Islander Affairs, Anne Warner and Ruth Matchett and Policy Advisor, Norma. It was a peaceful and beautiful night with spoken reflections by a number of attendees.