Recognising the devastating impacts of forced historical adoptions

On 21 March 2013, then Prime Minister Julia Gillard, offered an apology on behalf of the Australian Government to people affected by forced adoption practices. Today, we take a moment to reflect on the painful legacy of these practices, to acknowledge our role during this terrible time in history and to extend our own heartfelt apology to the mothers, fathers, children and families impacted by these practices. 

Acknowledging a painful legacy 

Historical forced adoptions refer to past practices that forcibly separated mothers and their babies, leaving a lasting and damaging impact on families. From the 1950s to the early 1980s, unmarried pregnant women were subjected to shame and stigma, and it was common practice for them to be sent to maternity homes to be hidden away until after the birth of their babies. These women endured harsh conditions, which included forced restraint during childbirth, immediately separating them from their newborns, and coercing mothers into signing consent forms. It is estimated that 250,000 Australians were affected by these practices.  

Monash Health acknowledges and apologises for its role in the forced separation of mothers and babies, and for the mistreatment of women that took place at our facilities, which stands contrary to the inclusive, compassionate, and patient-centred care we stand for today. 

Supporting women impacted by historical forced adoption 

In October 2023, the Victorian Government established the Historical Forced Adoption Redress Scheme to acknowledge the impact of historical forced adoption practices. The scheme provides financial redress and support for the women who continue to live with the ongoing effects of the experience of forced separation. 

The scheme is a key recommendation of the Inquiry into Responses to Historical Forced Adoptions in Victoria 

The inquiry also made several other recommendations designed to support impacted women, which includes free access to hospital records. 

Monash Health is committed to facilitating access to records for individuals affected by historical adoptions and we have introduced a dedicated form to streamline requests, ensuring ease of access and no cost associated with obtaining these records. 

We are dedicated to listening to and acknowledging the experiences of those impacted by historical adoptions, to fostering a supportive environment and providing holistic care to all women, especially those who have been affected by past practices. 

For more information on how to access hospital records, please see our Health Records Requests page.