Vetoes prevent the release of identifying information about one party to the other parties to an adoption. Adoption vetoes only apply to adoptions that were completed in South Australia before 17 August 1989.
The Adoption (Review) Amendment Act 2016 has resulted in significant changes to vetoes in South Australia. See our frequently asked questions below.
These changes will commence on 18 December 2017.
What will happen to the veto system currently in place?
Adoption information vetoes will be removed on 17 December 2022, 5 years after the commencement of this part of the Amendment Act (section 20). This provision commences on 18 December 2017.
Vetoes that are currently in place will continue for 5 years from 18 December 2017, unless the person who has placed the veto revokes the veto earlier. A veto will not be able to be renewed at the end of the 5 year transition period (17 December 2022).
This means that after 5 years, if a party to the adoption applies for the identifying information, that information may be released to them.
Information can be withheld if it is determined that its release would:
- be an unjustifiable intrusion on the privacy of the person to whom the information relates
- give rise to a serious risk to the life or safety of a person
- in the case of information relating to a person adopted before 17 August 1989 - not be in the best interests of the adopted person, taking into account the rights and welfare of the adopted person and any other prescribed matter.
During the 5 year transition period, the Department for Child Protection will provide services to support people whose vetoes are to expire and to people who are unable to obtain information for 5 years.
Support services will also be provided by the Post Adoption Support Services of Relationships Australia SA who can be contacted on (08) 8245 8100. There is no cost for these services.
Will my current veto immediately expire? If not, when will it expire?
All vetoes in place at the commencement of the transition period will continue for 5 years unless revoked earlier by the person who placed the veto.
They will expire on 17 December 2022.
Will there be a contact veto system?
There will be no adoption veto system of any kind in South Australia after the 5 year transition period ends on 17 December 2022.
What is a Statement of Wishes?
A person whose veto is to expire after the 5 year transition period may make a Statement of Wishes about contact with the other party. This statement will be held into the future by the Department for Child Protection and by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
If adoption information related to a Statement of Wishes is to be released any time into the future after 17 December 2022, the Department for Child Protection and/or the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages must ensure that the Statement of Wishes accompanies the adoption information that is released.
This ensures that the party receiving the information knows what the other party thinks about whether or not they want contact.
When will the changes to the adoption veto law come into effect?
This change will come into law on 18 December 2017. A 5 year transition period will start on this date.
I have a veto in place and I am concerned about someone getting identifying information about me from the adoption file?
While your veto is in place your identifying information cannot be released.
After the end of the 5 year transition period on 17 December 2022, if the other parties apply for it, identifying information about you that is currently held in the adoption file may be made available to them.
Support is available to you from the Department for Child Protection and the Post Adoption Support Services to help you prepare for this.
You may give notice to the department if you believe release of your identifying information may give rise to a serious risk to your life or safety. A determination about this will then be made regarding whether information will be released.
If you are an adopted person who was adopted before 17 August 1989 and you believe that release of your identifying information is not in your best interests, you may give notice to the department. A determination about this will then be made.
What identifying information about me will the other parties be able to get?
The other parties will be able to get identifying information about you that was collected by the Department for Child Protection at the time of the adoption.
They will also be able to get some marriage or change of name details from the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registry, which may allow them to do further searching through electoral rolls and other publicly available sources of information.
If you and/or other family members are active on social media such as Facebook, you may wish to check that your privacy settings are set to where you feel comfortable about the information that is publicly available.
Do I have to have contact with the other party if I don't want to?
You will be under no obligation to have contact with anyone with whom you don't want to have contact.
You will be able to lodge with the Department for Child Protection a statement of your wishes about contact with other parties to the adoption. This statement will be provided with any adoption information disclosed to the other party when they apply for it.
You may wish to provide the department with some family medical history information that can be passed on to the other party should they want this kind of information.
How can I stop someone from contacting me?
If someone contacts you and you do not want this, you can make your wishes clear to them about that.
If you feel you are being harassed, you have the right to report the harassment to the police.
If identifying information about me is made available, will this enable someone to find out about wider family members? Other family members don't know about the adoption. What can I do?
The other party may be able to find out further information about other family members through various publicly available sources.
The Post Adoption Support Services can assist you in working through how and when to talk to other family members about this.
My child doesn't know they were adopted so they don't have a veto. Is there anything I can do to stop their birth parents making contact?
Identifying information about your child will be available to their birth parent/s if they apply for it. They can then search and make contact if they wish to.
We recommend that you talk with the Post Adoption Support Services on (08) 8245 8100 to discuss ways of telling your child that they are adopted prior to any potential contact.
When will I be able to access information currently unavailable to me because of a veto?
Identifying information about parties to an adoption where there has been a veto may be available after the end of the 5 year transition period on 17 December 2022. The 5 year period starts on 18 December 2017.
A veto in place at the start of the 5 year transition period will continue for the full 5 years of the transition period, unless it is revoked by the person who placed it.
Access to the information may be restricted if the Department for Child Protection determines that it should not be released in certain circumstances.
If an adopted person or birth parent dies while their veto is in place, the department will notify the other party to the adoption about the deceased person's identity and their death. In the case of the death of an adopted person, this includes notifying the birth siblings of the adopted person. This part of the Amendment Act will come into law in 2018 after regulations for it have been drafted.
Processing applications for adoption information takes about 6-8 weeks once an application is received. This time depends on the number and complexity of files being processed.
Is there help for me to tell my family about these changes?
The Post Adoption Support Services can support you in managing your responses to these changes and in preparing to talk about things with other family members or people important to you.
The Post Adoption Support Services can be contacted on (08) 8245 8100. There is no cost for this service.
To talk to someone about getting support for how these changes might affect you, you can contact:
Post Adoption Support Services (non-government)
Email: passinfo [at] rasa.org.au
Phone: (08) 8245 8100
Department for Child Protection Adoption Services (government)
Email: adoptions [at] sa.gov.au
Phone: 8463 3666
Adoption Act Review Office
Policy staff are available to help you with your queries about the Act.
Email: DECDFamiliesAdoptionReview [at] sa.gov.au
Phone: 8226 6840