Adoption and Forgotten Australians

Family history for adopted people, Forgotten Australians and child migrants

Adoption in Victoria


Legal adoption commenced in Victoria with the Adoption of Children Act 1928, which came into effect in 1929. Adoption before this time was unofficial and no official 'adoption' records were kept. You may however, find custody information in other types of records, for example the Children's registers of State wards or the Infant Life Protection Act indexes can include information on early adoptions.

The 1984 amendment to the Adoption Act (effective 1985) gave adopted persons the right to access information about their adoption. If you were legally adopted (or the child of a legally adopted person), please follow the following steps to access information about your adoption.

1. Accessing adoption records

Contact Family Information Networks and Discovery (FIND) at the Department of Human Services to apply for your legal adoption records. Before receiving your records, you will be required to meet with the Duty Worker. To arrange an interview, please contact:
The Duty Worker
1800 130 225 (toll free)

PO Box 588, Collins Street West
Melbourne Victoria 3000

Once you have met with the Duty Worker, you will be given a copy of your original birth certificate and any other records relating to your adoption. If your adoption was organised by a non-government agency, you may wish to also contact them for information. If you don't know the name of the agency, or the agency no longer exists, FIND can assist you in this search.

2. Searching and support services

After you have received your adoption information, you may wish to search for the location of your birth parents. For adoption support services (including searching assistance) please contact VANISH - Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self-Help

Other non Government agencies also offer services for adopted persons. Please see 'Non-Government agencies' box on this page for more information.

Donor conception in Victoria

The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) manages the Victorian donor registers. Information about access, including application forms can be found on the Donor Conception Register Services section of their website.

Useful publications

Adoption : myth and reality : the Adoption Information Service in Victoria
Produced by the Adoption Information Service, Dept. of Human Services (1999).

Private lives, public records: family history resources at Public Record Office Victoria
Please consult Chapter 2 - 'Establishing your family tree', page 25 Adoption Records (2004).

Searching in adoption and wardship : a guide
A do-it-yourself guide designed to assist people searching for family members from whom they have been separated by adoption (1999).

Non-Government agencies

Association of Relinquishing Mothers (ARMS):
Provides support to women who have lost a child or children to adoption.

Independent Regional Mothers
An advocacy group looking for justice in relation to the forcible removal of newborn babies from mothers in the 1950s-1970s.

International Social Service Australia
Provides social work services to families, children and single adults across international borders. Their intercountry services include family tracing and reunification, international family mediation, kinship care and other child welfare matters, and support for families experiencing international parental child abduction.

MacKillop Family Services: Assists former residents and clients of the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of St. Joseph to access personal information now held by MacKillop Family Services. Also provides assistance with access to records held by government departments. Phone Heritage and Information Services on 9699-9177.

UnitingCare Connections: Provides information to eligible people about adoptions made under the Victorian Adoption Act 1984. People can also request information about adoptions that were facilitated by the following organisations: Methodist Babies Home, Methodist Department of Child Care, Presbyterian Sisterhood, Presbyterian Babies Home (inc. Kildonan), Presbyterian Social Services, Methodist Social Services, Child Care Services of the Uniting Church and Copelen Street Family Services.

Oz Reunion: Provides a pay-per-listing forum for people searching for birth family.