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On this page

  • Who can apply
  • Getting started
  • Have these documents handy
  • Submit your application
  • What’s next
  • Important information about the Fund
  • Support

The Forced Adoption Exceptional Circumstances Fund is one of many steps the Victorian Government is taking to heal the harm caused by past practices.

The fund will provide one-off discretionary payments to mothers affected by forced adoption policies and practices in Victoria prior to 1985 who are experiencing terminal illness or other acute exceptional circumstances.

Applications are now open

If you have a disability and require additional support to complete your application or progress through the application process please contact us at forcedadoptioninquiry@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)

Who can apply

To apply for this fund, you must be both:

  • a mother impacted by forced adoption practices that occurred in Victoria before 1985, and
  • experiencing terminal illness or other exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional circumstances may include:

  • critical illness, or
  • other acute circumstances that may warrant a one-off payment, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

You cannot apply for this funding on behalf of someone who has already passed.

If you are terminally or critically ill, your application will be prioritised.

Getting started

Download the application form (DOCX, 94.15KB)

You may also wish to nominate a support person or organisation. Please use the nomination form (DOCX, 101.9KB) to nominate a support person or organisation.

If you have a terminal or critical illness, please complete the medical statement form (DOCX, 75.72KB).

If you would like paper forms to be posted to you, please email the Forced Adoption Inquiry (External link).

Have these documents handy

You’ll need to provide the following information to support your application. You can include these documents when you submit your application or give them to us later.

  1. A copy of two kinds of identification. The following identification types are acceptable. One of them must include your birth date. Both must have your legal name, which must match the name on your application form. Copies must be certified. If you cannot provide certified copies of your documents, please provide a photo of yourself holding one of the pieces of identification. Learn more about certifying copies of original documents.
    • driver licence, learner permit, firearm licence or marine licence
    • proof of age card
    • keypass
    • Commonwealth Government concession card (including health care card)
    • Department of Veterans Affairs health card
    • birth certificate
    • a Working with Children Check Card
    • current pensioner concession card
    • current medicare card
    • passport
    • bank card (copies of both sides) issued by an Australian institution
    • bank statement issued by an Australian institution
    • utility statement (gas, water, electricity, mobile or home phone)
    • Australian Taxation Office assessment
    • student or tertiary institution identification card
    • executed lease agreement.
  2. Information about your experience of forced adoption, if available. You do not need to have records about an adoption. If you do not have any records, you can give us permission to search certain records on your behalf. If you do have access to records, you can include a copy of them as part of your application. Types of documents might include:​​​​
    • a copy of an adopted person's original birth certificate
    • a copy of court records created by past adoption agencies and courts
    • a copy of any submission(s) you have made to past inquiries into forced adoption practices
    • a letter from your doctor or support worker who can confirm that you have been impacted by forced adoption practices and policies
    • a statutory declaration
    • any other document that shows:
      • you were pregnant and / or gave birth in Victoria prior to 1985
      • you experienced forced adoption practices aimed at forcing relinquishment of your baby for adoption.
  3. Evidence of exceptional circumstances. The fund provides a discretionary, one-off payment for people experiencing exceptional circumstances, prioritising people who are terminally ill. You will need to provide support documents that demonstrate that you are experiencing exceptional circumstances.
    • If you have a medical condition, please provide a completed medical statement form (DOCX, 75.72KB) from your treating doctor or other medical professional to confirm your health condition.
    • If you're experiencing other acute exceptional circumstances that may warrant a one-off payment, supporting documents may include a letter from your support worker or other agency detailing your exceptional circumstances and need for payment.
  4. Information on how you will use the funding. This will help the committee assess your application.

You may also need:

  • Evidence of a name change. You’ll need one of the following types of document:
    • Marriage Certificate
    • Registration of name change (Deed Poll)
    • Adoption Certificate or similar (contact us if you require help accessing this)
    • Another official document verifying name change (such as a statutory declaration).
  • A nomination form (DOCX, 101.9KB) if you would like to authorise someone to speak to us on your behalf
  • A completed copy of the medical statement form (DOCX, 75.72KB) signed by your treating doctor or other medical professional, advising that you are terminally or critically ill.
  • Proof of Power of Attorney or Guardianship if you are applying for someone in this capacity.

If you do not have access to this information, you may be able to have an organisation confirm your identity. Please contact us for more information at forcedadoptioninquiry@justice.vic.gov.au (External link).

Submit your application

You can submit your application in one of two ways:

  1. Mail a signed copy of your form and any required documents to:

    Department of Justice and Community Safety
    Forced Adoption Exceptional Circumstances Fund
    GPO Box 4332
    Melbourne, VIC, 3001
  2. Email a signed, scanned version of your form and any required documents to forcedadoptioninquiry@justice.vic.gov.au (External link).

What’s next

  1. You will be sent a letter or email to confirm we received your application.
  2. You may be contacted for more information. If you have given us permission, we will search for records to support your application.
  3. The Forced Adoption Inquiry team will assess your application. They will make a recommendation about your application to a committee.
  4. The committee will review the recommendation and make a final decision. They will contact you and tell you about their decision.
    • If your application is approved, we will ask you to nominate a bank account for us to provide your payment.
    • If your application is not approved, you may be able to provide further information to support your application.

Important information about the Fund

About forced adoption policies and practices

Forced adoption refers to past practices that forcibly separated mothers and their babies. Not all of these practices resulted in adoption.

These practices usually occurred in an institution, such as a hostel or hospital. Practices included:

  • sending mothers to maternity homes with harsh conditions
  • forcibly restraining mothers when they gave birth
  • immediately separating them from their newborn babies against their will, and
  • pressuring or coercing mothers into signing consent forms.

What is available in the fund

The fund provides a one-off payment of up to $10,000 for mothers impacted by forced adoption practices before 1985 who are experiencing exceptional circumstances. Payment will be made at the discretion of the committee based on an assessment of your immediate needs. If you are terminally ill, your application will be prioritised.

The Fund is not connected to any future redress schemes or compensation claims.

Please seek advice regarding any tax or Centrelink implications as a result of a payment from the fund..

How will payments be determined?

The Exceptional Circumstances Fund offers a discretionary, one-off lump sum payment of us to $10,000 from a fixed pool of funding. The total funding an individual can receive will be capped and is dependent on overall demand for the fund.

All funding payments will be determined by the committee. These payments are discretionary, and applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

To assist the committee make an assessment for the payment, please indicate in the application form how this funding will help you.

If you are terminally ill, your application will be prioritised.

How does this relate to the Redress Scheme?

The Victorian Government is currently designing Australia’s first redress scheme for people affected by forced adoption. The Forced Adoption Exceptional Circumstances Fund is designed for people with exceptional circumstances before the redress scheme is established. It will not replace or affect future applications to the redress scheme.

Why are terminally ill people being prioritised?

We know that many have waited for a long time and are suffering. This fund is one of many steps this government is taking to heal the harm caused by these past practices.

The Victorian Government has committed $500,000 for this fund for those in most immediate need. It is not intended to replace the Redress Scheme.

Helping someone else to apply

You can give permission for a friend, family member or support worker to help you apply. This person is called a nominee.

A nominee can:

  • share and receive information about your application, including personal information
  • fill out the application for you
  • submit your application on your behalf.

A nominee cannot:

  • sign your application form. You must sign the form
  • make decisions about your application
  • withdraw an application
  • receive payments.

To appoint a nominee, you need to complete a Nominee Form. Both of you need to sign the form and it needs to be witnessed by a third person.

You can withdraw or change your nominee at any time by contacting us at forcedadoptioninquiry@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)

Legal guardianship and power of attorney

You may already have a guardianship or power of attorney allowing someone else to make decisions on your behalf. This person can make decisions about your application for you. When you submit your application please include a copy of the documentation showing the legal appointment of your Guardian or Power of Attorney.

Support

If you need to speak with someone, these organisations can provide support. Other organisations can help you to apply for the fund.

These organisations provide 24/7 support:

Lifeline (24/7) (External link)
Call 13 11 14

VAHS Yarning SafeNStrong (External link)
Call 1800 959 563

Further support is available through:

Adoptions Origins Vic
Call 0411 587 961
Email libby.edwards1945@gmail.com (External link)

ARMS
Call 0400 701 621
Email arms@armsvic.org.au (External link)

Independent Regional Mothers
Call 0409711627
Email motherstruth@gmail.com (External link)  

Link-up
Call 03 9287 8800
Email linkup@vacca.org (External link)

Relationships Australia Victoria
Call 1800 21 03 13
Email fass@rav.org.au (External link)

VANISH
Call 03 9328 8611 or 1300 826 474
Email info@vanish.org.au (External link)

Support through the application process

If you would like additional support with the application process, you can contact the following organisations to assist you:

VANISH 
Call 03 9328 8611 or 1300 826 474
Email info@vanish.org.au (External link) 

Relationships Australia Victoria
Call 1800 21 03 13
Email fass@rav.org.au (External link)

Link-up
Call 03 9287 8800
Email linkup@vacca.org (External link)

You can also contact the Adoption Information Service for information or support in accessing records.

Call 03 8608 5700 (local call cost) and request a call back.

Email adoptionrecords@justice.vic.gov.au (External link)