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Freeze to dealings with suspect Indian adopti -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government has today responded to accusations that Australians have
adopted stolen children by announcing a freeze on dealings with suspect Indian adoption agencies.

Several Australian families are believed to have been caught up in the scandal.

But the Government says that while it will offer them support and advice, it will be up to the
courts to handle any custody claims.

Child welfare advocate and former New South Wales Community Services commissioner Roger West is
speaking at a conference looking at the importance of adopted children understanding their past.

He's also the father of two children adopted from Colombia, and he's told reporter Annie Guest that
the Government must do more to ensure that Indian adoptions continue.

ROGER WEST: I absolutely support the idea that they should look closely when, and have a freeze in
the meantime, but I think they should move very, very quickly to do the review that needs to be
done, and the checks that need to be done.

Because I can't see any reason why a freeze serves any other purpose. I mean, there are children
who are needing adoptive families, there are families who want to adopt children and you wouldn't
want to put any unnecessary process in between that happening. But you do need very good process.

ANNIE GUEST: While the Australia Government deals at the inter-governmental level with India, do
you think it should also be doing its own checks about the orphanages recommended by the Indian

ROGER WEST: No I think that should be making sure that the Indian Government is doing their job
properly, I mean, double checking to me seems to be a bit silly.

ANNIE GUEST: How then, what would it be looking for then, to ensure that the Indian Government is
doing its job properly, how could that be ascertained?

ROGER WEST: I guess, this is not unfamiliar to governments dealing with each other, you know, in
the national security area, in air safety, in a whole lot of things, and making sure that people
are adhering to processes that are good is a matter of investigation and checking.

ANNIE GUEST: Do you think that the Australian authorities should shoulder some of the blame for the
fact that this happened in the first place?

ROGER WEST: Look, I could not say that, I just don't know what has happened and what hasn't

ANNIE GUEST: You're speaking at the Australia Adoption Conference in Sydney tomorrow, where the
theme is connecting pasts, securing futures. How important is it for adoptive children, in your
view, to know about their pasts?

ROGER WEST: Look, I think it's absolutely crucial, I think that the theme of the conference is
fabulous and I totally whole heatedly believe that adoptive children should know as much as they
can about their past, or at least have choice to pursue that if they want to. And connecting past
and future in that sense is a great thing to do, and I think a very important thing to do.

ANNIE GUEST: We're hearing today that the mother of the Indian born girl who was allegedly stolen,
and then later adopted by Queensland parents, is interested in now contacting her daughter.

How important is that for that girl, and do you consider that beneficial?

ROGER WEST: It's not easy to answer in the sense that I think the opportunities ought to be there,
but I don't, it may or may not be beneficial for that girl.

But she should have a choice in the process, and so should the other parties. And so one person's
rights in this system shouldn't necessarily override those of others.

ELEANOR HALL: Child welfare advocate, Roger West, speaking to Annie Guest.