Roles and Responsibilities

Should you proceed with applying to adopt a child from overseas, you will deal mainly with authorities in your state or territory.

In simple terms, the states and territories are responsible for all the individual steps associated with your application, while the Australian Government has an oversight role to ensure Australia is playing its part in ethical and appropriate intercountry adoption arrangements.

States and territories

State and territory central authorities are responsible for managing your adoption application, and for assessing your eligibility and suitability to adopt. This assessment is made in line with the relevant state or territory adoption legislation.

Responsibilities of the states and territories include:

  • preparing families for, and supporting them through, the intercountry adoption process
  • assessing adoption applications
  • handling day-to-day matters relating to adoption applications
  • providing advice and assistance to families regarding specific overseas country requirements
  • monitoring progress of individual applications with the relevant agency in the overseas country
  • providing support and supervision to families after the placement of adopted children

Please contact us or go to States and territory central authories for links to the relevant department in each state and territory.

Australian Government

The Australian Government has a number of responsibilities for managing and overseeing intercountry adoption in Australia. These include:

  • ensuring Australia meets all its obligations under the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption
  • providing national policy leadership and coordination, to ensure best practices in intercountry adoption
  • managing and reviewing existing overseas adoption arrangements, through building strong relationships with overseas countries
  • establishing new overseas adoption arrangements with countries who demonstrate compliance with the Hague Convention and are a viable program for Australia to enter an arrangement with.

You can read more about the roles and responsibilities of the Australian Government and the states and territories on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

Role of the Attorney-General’s Department

The Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) is responsible for ensuring that Australia fulfils its obligations under the Hague Convention.

AGD and the state and territory governments work cooperatively to ensure that all of Australia’s adoption arrangements meet the standards of the Hague Convention, regardless of whether partner countries are signatories.

For further information on AGD’s role, please visit the Attorney-General’s Department website.

Department of Social Services (DSS)

DSS is responsible for:

  • operating Intercountry Adoption Australia
  • managing and reviewing existing overseas adoption programs
  • establishing any new overseas adoption programs, where appropriate (this responsibility moved from the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) to DSS on 1 January 2017)
  • developing national policy on intercountry adoption with AGD, and state and territory governments and
  • funding a number of intercountry adoption support services, including the Intercountry Adoption Family Support Service, and Intercountry Adoption Tracing and Reunification Service

Role of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Australian immigration and citizenship requirements are important aspects of the adoption process and are managed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

DIBP’s role in intercountry adoption is to assess Australian visa and citizenship applications for children adopted through Hague or bilateral arrangements.

How the Department may be able to help your family

DIBP provides support to prospective adoptive parents to help them navigate visa and citizenship processes.

Adopting parents are referred to DIBP once they are ready to proceed with visa and citizenship processes for their adopted child. DIBP has dedicated staff to help you understand the options for your individual circumstances and support you through the application process.

For further information on visa and citizenship requirements, please visit Immigration, citizenship and passports or the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.

Please note that the Australian Passport Office in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for passport applications and assessments.

Role of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Maintaining, improving and, where appropriate, expanding Australia’s intercountry adoption arrangements is important to ensuring that opportunities to adopt from overseas remain available to Australian families.

The role of the Department in intercountry adoption

In this context, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will work with other Australian Government agencies to support the establishment of new adoption arrangements with other countries and enhance existing adoption programs. This will include engaging with agencies in other countries and supporting visits by officials to improve the intercountry adoption process. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also provides passports assistance to adoptive families.

How the Department may be able to help your family

The Australian Passport Office in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will help assist families with passport issues.

To help Australians avoid difficulties overseas, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also maintains travel advisories for more than 160 destinations.

The Smartraveller travel advisory service is one of the resources that travellers can use to make informed travel decisions. The service highlights the range of risks that you could face at your destination, whether related to security, safety, health, local laws, entry/exit requirements, or natural disasters.

As part of your trip planning for any trip, we strongly recommend that you read and subscribe to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller service.

If you’d like further information on DFAT’s role, please contact us or visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

For more information about passport requirements please visit Immigration, citizenship and passports.