This content may contain content that is confronting and disturbing, and which may cause sadness or distress.

Access 24 hour support:

Lifeline (24/7) (External link)
Call 13 11 14

VAHS Yarning SafeNStrong (External link)
Call 1800 959 563

On this page

  • Who can apply
  • How do I know if I am eligible?
  • What documents will I need?
  • Submit your application
  • What’s next
  • Important information about the fund

The Forced Adoption Exceptional Circumstances Fund is one of many steps the Victorian Government is taking to heal the harm caused by past practices.

The fund will provide one-off discretionary payments of up to $10,000 to mothers affected by forced adoption policies and practices in Victoria prior to 1985 who are experiencing terminal illness or other exceptional circumstances.

Applications are now open

If you have a disability and require additional support to complete your application or progress through the application process please contact us at forcedadoptioninquiry@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)

Who can apply

To be eligible for this fund, you must be both:

  • a mother impacted by forced adoption practices that occurred in Victoria before 1985, and
  • experiencing exceptional circumstances.

You cannot apply for this funding on behalf of someone who has already passed.

If you are terminally or critically ill, your application will be prioritised.

How do I know if I am eligible?

What are forced adoption policies and practices?

Forced adoption refers to past practices that forcibly separated mothers and their babies. Not all of these practices resulted in adoption.

These practices usually occurred in an institution, such as a hostel or hospital. Practices included:

  • sending mothers to maternity homes with harsh conditions
  • forcibly restraining mothers when they gave birth
  • immediately separating them from their newborn babies against their will, and
  • pressuring or coercing mothers into signing consent forms.

What are ‘exceptional circumstances’?

It is difficult to provide a precise list of factors or scenarios that constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’. There is usually not one factor which makes a situation exceptional, but a combination of factors applying to each individual.

Exceptional circumstances may include a terminal or critical illness, or other circumstances that are having, or will have, a significant and detrimental impact on your life, health or wellbeing over the next 12 months.

It is important to remember that this fund is intended for those in immediate need. It does not have an impact on or replace any future redress scheme.

If you are terminally or critically ill, your application will be prioritised.

Still unsure?

You can contact the following organisations if you have any questions or need support throughout the application process.

VANISH

Phone 03 9328 8611 or 1300 826 474
Email info@vanish.org.au (External link)

Relationships Australia Victoria

Phone 1800 21 03 13
Email fass@rav.org.au (External link)

Link-up

Phone 03 9287 8800
Email linkup@vacca.org (External link)

What documents will I need?

You will need to provide the following supporting information to complete an application:

  • A completed and signed application form
  • A copy of 2 forms of current identification (see Supporting documents below)
  • A copy of proof of any name change, if applicable
  • Any supporting document/s about your experience of forced adoption policies and practices, if available, and
  • Supporting documents that show you are currently experiencing exceptional circumstances as described by you in the application form (see below for more information).

Download the application form

If you would like paper forms to be posted to you, please email the Forced Adoption Inquiry (External link).

Supporting documents

You’ll need to provide the following information to support your application. You can include these documents when you submit your application or give them to us later.

1. A copy of two kinds of identification

The following identification types are acceptable. One of them must include your birth date. Both must have your legal name, which must match the name on your application form. Copies must be certified. If you cannot provide certified copies of your documents, please provide a photo of yourself holding one of the pieces of identification. Learn more about certifying copies of original documents.

  • driver licence, learner permit, firearm licence or marine licence
  • proof of age card
  • keypass
  • Commonwealth Government concession card (including health care card)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs health card
  • birth certificate
  • a Working with Children Check Card
  • current pensioner concession card
  • current medicare card
  • passport
  • bank card (copies of both sides) issued by an Australian institution
  • bank statement issued by an Australian institution
  • utility statement (gas, water, electricity, mobile or home phone)
  • Australian Taxation Office assessment
  • student or tertiary institution identification card
  • executed lease agreement.

2. Information about your experience of forced adoption, if available

If you have access to records that show your experience of forced adoption practices, please include a copy of these as part of your application. If you do not have any records, you can give us permission to search certain records on your behalf. You do not need to have records that show an adoption took place.

Types of documents might include:​​​​

  • a copy of an adopted person's original birth certificate
  • a copy of court records created by past adoption agencies and courts
  • a copy of any submission(s) you have made to past inquiries into forced adoption practices
  • a letter from your doctor or support worker who can confirm that you have been impacted by forced adoption practices and policies
  • a statutory declaration
  • any other document that shows:
  • you were pregnant and / or gave birth in Victoria prior to 1985
  • you experienced forced adoption practices aimed at forcing relinquishment of your baby for adoption.

3. Supporting document/s confirming your exceptional circumstances

The fund provides a discretionary, one-off payment for people experiencing exceptional circumstances. If you are terminally or critically ill, your application will be prioritised. It is important to provide documents (or other evidence) in support of your application that help explain your exceptional circumstances.

If you have a medical condition, please provide a completed medical statement form from your treating doctor or other medical professional to confirm your health condition.

Download the medical statement form

Other supporting documents that demonstrate your current circumstances may include:

  • a letter, report or other documentation from a support worker, agency or other professional (for example, a housing support worker) demonstrating your current situation
  • court or other legal documents, such as a Family Violence Intervention Order
  • evidence of your financial situation – for example bank statements, current bills or letters from your creditors or financial counsellor (if you have one). It is important to note that financial hardship is not enough on its own to be considered exceptional circumstances, but it is a factor that can be taken into account.

You may also need:

  • Evidence of a name change. You’ll need one of the following types of document:
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Registration of name change (Deed Poll)
    • Another official document verifying name change (such as a statutory declaration).
  • Proof of Power of Attorney or Guardianship if you are applying for someone in this capacity.

If you do not have access to this information, you may be able to have an organisation confirm your identity. Please contact us for more information at forcedadoptioninquiry@justice.vic.gov.au (External link).

Submit your application

You can submit your application in one of two ways:

  1. Mail a signed copy of your form and any required documents to:

    Department of Justice and Community Safety
    Forced Adoption Exceptional Circumstances Fund
    GPO Box 4332
    Melbourne, VIC, 3001
  2. Email a signed, scanned version of your form and any required documents to forcedadoptioninquiry@justice.vic.gov.au (External link).

What’s next

  1. You will be sent a letter or email to confirm we received your application.
  2. You may be contacted for more information. If you have given us permission, we will search for records to support your application.
  3. The Forced Adoption Inquiry team will assess your application. They will make a recommendation about your application to a committee.
  4. The committee will review the recommendation and make a final decision. They will contact you and tell you about their decision.
  5. If your application is approved, we will ask you to nominate a bank account and a payment will be made to you.

Important information about the fund

What is available in the fund?

The fund provides a one-off payment of up to $10,000 for mothers impacted by forced adoption practices before 1985 who are experiencing exceptional circumstances. Payment will be made at the discretion of the committee based on an assessment of your immediate needs. If you are terminally or critically ill, your application will be prioritised.

The Fund is not connected to any future redress schemes or compensation claims.

Please seek advice regarding any tax or Centrelink implications as a result of a payment from the fund..

How will payments be determined?

The fund offers a discretionary, one-off lump sum payment of up to $10,000 from a fixed pool of funding to eligible mothers.

The discretionary nature of ‘exceptional circumstances’ makes it difficult to provide an exhaustive list of factors or scenarios that constitute eligibility. There is usually not one issue that makes a situation exceptional, but a combination of factors applying to each individual.

Applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis using the information provided.

If you are terminally or critically ill, your application will be prioritised.

How does this relate to redress?

The Victorian Government is currently designing Australia’s first redress scheme for people affected by forced adoption. The Forced Adoption Exceptional Circumstances Fund is designed for people with exceptional circumstances before the redress scheme is established. It will not replace or affect future applications to the redress scheme.

Why are terminally and critically ill people being prioritised?

We know that many have waited for a long time and are suffering. This fund is one of many steps this government is taking to heal the harm caused by these past practices.

The Victorian Government has committed $500,000 for this fund for those in most immediate need. It is not intended to replace the Redress Scheme.

Legal guardianship and power of attorney

You may already have a guardianship or power of attorney allowing someone else to make decisions on your behalf. This person can make decisions about your application for you. When you submit your application please include a copy of the documentation showing the legal appointment of your Guardian or Power of Attorney.

Support during the application process

If you would like additional support with the application process, you can contact the following organisations to assist you:

VANISH

Phone 03 9328 8611 or 1300 826 474
Email info@vanish.org.au (External link)

Relationships Australia Victoria

Phone 1800 21 03 13
Email fass@rav.org.au (External link)

Link-up

Phone 03 9287 8800
Email linkup@vacca.org (External link)

Further support for people affected by forced adoption is available.

Adoptions Origins Vic

Phone 0411 587 961
Email libby.edwards1945@gmail.com (External link)

ARMS

Phone 0400 701 621
Email arms@armsvic.org.au (External link)

Independent Regional Mothers

Phone 0409711627
Email motherstruth@gmail.com (External link)

You can also contact the Adoption Information Service for information or support in accessing records.

Call 03 8608 5700 (local call cost) and request a call back.

Email adoptionrecords@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)