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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 13992

Intercountry Adoption Programs

Dear Dr Jensen

Thank you again for your letter of 18 August 2015 (Your reference: 1067/1558), referring me to the petition of the Ukrainian Women' s Association of Australia requesting that the Australian Government establish an intercountry adoption programme with Ukraine.

As you may be aware, my department has responsibility for establishing and maintaining Australia' s intercountry adoption programmes. In April 2014, the Interdepartmental Committee on Intercountry Adoption recommended that my department investigate the viability of establishing new intercountry adoption programmes with a number of priority countries. Ukraine was not listed as a priority country in that report. As such, my department is not in a position to actively investigate a programme with Ukraine at this time.

.,,My department is also responsible for ensuring that Australia meets its obligations under the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of lntercountry Adoption. Ukraine is not a signatory to the Convention. While Australia does have intercountry adoption programmes with countries that are not signatories to the Convention, we only do so where practices and procedures comply with the Convention's standards.

I am also conscious of ongoing political conflict within Ukraine. The Australian Government shares the view of UNICEF and other international organisations that in times of conflict, family tracing and reunification of children who have become separated from their usual caregivers should be prioritised. While children are often separated from their families and communities in times of conflict, this does not necessarily mean that these children do not have living parents, relatives or other carers. In these situations, it is in the best interests of the children to remain with their family and country as further separation from their extended families and country may compound the trauma these children have already experienced.

The Australian Government is committed to continuing work to strengthen and improve Australia's intercountry adoption system. Further information about my department's work is available on its website at:

.

Thank you again for writing on this matter.

from the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis