Catholic Health Australia will today issue an apology to the victims of forced adoption practices from the 1950s to 1970s and offer those affected counselling and a pathway for complaints, reports The Australian.
The apology will be made through a Senate committee, which is inquiring into the past practices of hospitals and social workers employed by government, churches and charities, who forcibly removed babies from unwed and teenage mothers and adopted them out.
The adoptions often occurred against the wishes of the mothers, who sometimes signed consent forms under duress or the influence of sedatives and other medication. In some cases no birth records are available.
"We acknowledge the pain of separation and loss felt then and now for the mothers, fathers, children, families and others involved in the practices of the time," Catholic Health Australia says in its apology.
"For the pain and suffering that arises from practices of the past, we are genuinely sorry.
"These practices of the past are no longer tolerated, nor allowed by today's law, and are deeply regrettable."
Catholic Healthcare chief executive Martin Laverty says his agency wants the federal government to set up a framework that will allow the victims of forced adoption to get access to personal medical or social work records and help contact lost family members.
"What is required is an acknowledgment of what happened, an apology and a system to respond the the individual circumstances of people who are still hurting," Mr Laverty said.
Church to say sorry for forcing single mothers to give up babies (The Australian)
Inquiry into the Commonwealth contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices (Catholic Health Australia)