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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2030

Senator McLAREN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs aware of a report that appeared in yesterday's Canberra 'Advertiser' concerning the case of Mr and Mrs Bob King and their foster child Kelly? Has the Minister received from his Department a report on this matter? If so, is that report 'mysterious', as the Press implies? Is it normal practice for public servants to refuse to comment to members of the Press, or are the refusals to comment by departmental officers referred to in the Press an indication that the Department is not taking any action in this matter? Further, has the Minister asked his Department to draft for his signature a letter to the New South Wales Minister on this matter? Finally, does the Minister have any idea why the journalist writing this article desired to give the impression that no action has been taken by the Minister or his Department and that all of the persons mentioned are endeavouring to cover up some details with regard to this case?

Senator CAVANAGH -Yes, I did read the article which appeared yesterday in the Canberra Press. I was surprised at the type of journalism that was used, because it attempted to create mystery about something which is not mysterious. This matter was mentioned in a previous issue of the newspaper. At that time I immediately made inquiries of my Department and received a reply from it on 15 November. The facts of the case are that the New South Wales adoption authorities were not aware that the Kings wished to adopt this child. When people wish to adopt a child in the Australian Capital Territory it is usual for them to make inquiries of the Australian Capital Territory authorities. But the Australian Capital Territory authorities have not received an application for approval of Mr and Mrs King as adopted parents. It is unlikely that the child's mother ever approved of the Kings, as they are unknown to her. The matter was being handled through Mrs Kinsella of the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs in New South Wales.

Mr and Mrs Kingcame to see me on Monday evening of last week and following discussions with them I promised that I would take the matter up and try to ring Mrs Kinsella the next day. I took the matter up with my departmental head, Mr Dexter, who agreed with me that it would be better to write to the New South Wales Department of Child Welfare. The 2 things that are essential apparently are the approval of the Kings by the mother as adoptive parents- the Kings have told me they now have information that the mother is prepared to give that approval- and for the Kings to apply for recognition and to be accepted as adoptive parents by the Australian Capital Territory authorities. I promised to get in touch with Mrs Kinsella for the purpose of trying to arrange a letter from the natural mother and an application from the Kings. They were going to be sent to me and I was to take the matter up with the Minister for the Capital Territory. The Kings would then be accepted as adoptive parents but would not of necessity have the child adopted out to them. They would go on a list and the matter would be decided in accordance with the welfare of the child.

Senator Little -That would be the main factor, the welfare of the child.


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