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Wednesday, 3 December 1986
Page: 3254

Senator GILES —My question is directed to the Minister for Community Services. Is it true that the New South Wales Department of Youth and Community Services has refused to allow a woman to adopt a baby because she is overweight? Is this reasonable or justifiable?

Senator GRIMES —It has certainly been reported that a woman in New South Wales was refused the right to adopt a child merely because she was overweight. I would say-I understand it is the view of the Department of Health-that if that is the sole reason that she was refused the right to adopt a child, it is not reasonable. The other day I answered a question from Senator Crowley about the images we force on people in this community, particularly women. If we are to base decisions about whether people can adopt a children merely on the fact that they are overweight or they weigh more than what somebody else deems desirable perhaps we are going a bit far.

From a health point of view it is probably more desirable not to be overweight. The logical extension of this decision is that people who are overweight cannot have children. That would be a silly extension but it would be a logical extension. If that were the case I suppose the world would be populated by thin people and what a miserable place it would be. I will seek information from New South Wales as to whether that was the sole reason why the woman was refused adoption. All I can say is that if it is the sole reason I think it is carrying the use of medical statistics too far.