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Integrated birth certificates for adoptees

Victoria adoption
The adoption law changes acknowledge this "shameful" part of Victoria's history, Jaclyn Symes says. Photo: AAP
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Victorians who were adopted will have the choice to include both their birth and adoptive parents on their birth certificates.

Legislation introduced on Tuesday will create integrated birth certificates, allowing the names of an adopted person’s birth parents, adoptive parents and the date of their adoption to be included on their certificate.

Under current law, only adoptive parents are listed on certificates.

The change will enable adopted people aged 18 and older who wish to update their records to access a certificate that better represents their origins and history.

It follows through on a recommendation made by the Parliamentary Inquiry into Historical Forced Adoption in Victoria.

The Victorian Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages will begin work to develop integrated certificates, which are expected to be available by late 2023.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said the state government’s response fully acknowledges this “shameful” part of Victoria’s history.

“This is a meaningful change we can start to make right now to help people who were adopted to tell their stories,” she said in a statement.

“We know we can’t change the past but we can try to repair the damage caused.”

In March, adoptee Penny Mackieson was allowed by the Victorian County Court to correct her identity records and integrate her Greek birth mother’s name with the one given to her by her adoptive parents on her legal birth certificate.

But the 59-year-old Melbourne woman is concerned the new legislation is not addressing the bigger picture.

“If that’s the only thing adoptees are getting it’s a crumb … integrated birth certificates are just like a little bandaid,” Ms Mackieson told AAP on Tuesday.

“We’ve always advocated that this should be done alongside a complete change of adoption practices. You shouldn’t be changing people’s birth certificates when they get adopted in the first place.

“I’m pretty annoyed it’s being announced as a one-off, frankly. Integrating our identities is a lifelong task, made harder from the beginning if you don’t have contact with your birth parents or even know who they are.”