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Thursday, 8 August 1946

Mr WHITE (Balaclava) (1:28 AM) . - The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) secured the adjournment of the debate on this bill, but as she is unable to attend this morning she has asked me to speak on her behalf. We share the same opinion regarding the bill in that we believe that it lacks a provision for the adoption of children bv private families. Some time ago" Mr. Darby, the member for Manly in the New South Wales Parliament. <=pt. up in Australia an .organization known as the British Orphans Adoption Society, an institution which had the blessing of the late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, and of many members on. both sides of the Parliament. On one occasion I introduced a deputation to the right honorable gentlemanon behalf of the organization and we were encouraged by the reception given to us. A branch of the organization was subsequently established in Victoria; I was its chairman. The branch has the names of the occupants of over 100 homes in Melbourne alone into which orphan children would be welcomed and adopted as members of the families. Those homes would have been very comfortable for the children. In Tasmania, the honorable member for Darwin did excellent work. We consider that, throughout Australia, approximately 5,000 children could have been quickly taken into homes. They were to undergo a probationary period and be supervised by the Child Welfare Departments of the States. In every way, that scheme would have been for the betterment of the children, who would have grown up in a splendid environment. Unfortunately, the Government's policy for child immigration does not provide for the adoption of children by private families.

Mr Haylen - Is the honorable member aware that the British Government was not in favour of war orphans leaving the United Kingdom ?

Mr WHITE - Yes, the Commonwealth Government so informed us in reply to our representations.

Mr Haylen - The British Orphans Association has been disbanded in New South Wales.

Mr WHITE - The organization has also been disbanded in Victoria ; but some children were available for adoption by private families. The late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, was very sympathetic to this cause, and actually approved of a family of four children, whose parents had been killed in air raids, coming to. Australia. Whilst I. congratulate the Government for proceeding with a policy for child immigration, I regret that no provision is made for the adoption of children in private homes. Welfare workers and sociologists, who have been in close touch with this work, agree that the principal need of children is human affection, which is found more in the home than in any institution. The present scheme will " institutalize " the children. I hope that the Minister will give consideration to these representations. The organization to which I referred had to be disbanded because the Government's declaration of its policy regarding the child immigration made no provision for the proper adoption of children by private families. The honorable member for Darwin has no objection to the bill, and hopes that it will be speedily passed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 (Custody of immigrant children).

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