By political reporter Latika Bourke
Updated Tue 4 Mar 2014, 6:27pm AEDT
Prime Minister Tony Abbott will slash court processes for some Australian couples trying to adopt children from overseas, in the first of a potential series of changes aimed at making overseas adoptions faster and easier.
Under the current system, couples adopting children from countries which have not signed up to The Hague Convention can wait up to 12 months for final approvals from Australian courts.
Mr Abbott will introduce changes that will apply to three countries that are not formal signatories to the convention but have bilateral agreements with Australia.
Ethiopia, Taiwan and South Korea will be listed so that full adoptions will be recognised automatically in Australia.
Official data says 40 per cent of inter-country adoptions in Australia were from Taiwan and South Korea in 2012-13.
“At the moment, if you adopt from those countries, you not only have court processes overseas, you’ve got court processes here in Australia,” Mr Abbott told Channel Nine.
“We’re going to cut that red tape out so it’s going to make it much, much easier for dozens of families every year to adopt from South Korea and Taiwan.”
The Ethiopia adoption program was closed in June 2012, but more than 600 Ethiopian-born children have been adopted by Australians through the program.
The Government says the changes will benefit families who have not yet finalised adoptions from Ethiopia.
The changes are being billed as an “initial change” to the processes, which can see some couples wait up to a decade for a child to be approved for adoption.
Mr Abbott has already established an inter-departmental committee to look at how to simplify the process. That report is in its final stages.
Deborra-Lee Furness from National Adoption Awareness Week has congratulated Mr Abbott for the changes.
“I am particularly happy for the many families who will be directly affected by this immediate action,” she said.
“We have been calling for change for a long time, and I am absolutely thrilled to see the Prime Minister’s office committing to real action.”
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