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Fit and proper person

Information about how an agency decides that a person is suitable to adopt.

  • The law changed on 6 May 2024
  • This content will be updated as soon as is possible

In the interim please consult the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website or the Victoria Legal Aid Website.

Applicants who seek to adopt a child must be approved as 'fit and proper' persons. Approvals are given by either the Department of Health and Human Services (Vic) or by the principal officer of an approved adoption agency. Once approved, the applicants will be added to a register kept by the decision-maker organisation.

The applicant needs to demonstrate that they are suitable to adopt a child by meeting all of the following criteria. The list is set out in r. 7 of the Adoption Regulations. Applicants must:

  • be of suitable mental, emotional and physical health
  • of sufficient maturity and not too old to be able to care for the child (so within the normal range of parents)
  • have suitable life skills and life experience
  • suitable financial circumstances
  • capacity to provide a stable, secure and beneficial (emotional and physical) environment during the child's upbringing until the child reaches independence
  • capacity to support a child's cultural identity and religious faith if they have any
  • an appreciation of the importance of maintaining contact with the child's birth parents and exchanging information with the child's birth parents and family, and participating in formulating an adoption plan
  • being generally of stable character and not impeded by criminal history (including that of other family members)
  • stability of the relationship of the couple and of other members of the family
  • stability of character of the applicant
  • if the child has lived with the applicants temporarily the applicants will have to show that they were able to provide a beneficial emotional and physical environment for the child while the child was with them.

The applicants need to submit a statement of personal details with their application to the adoption agency or to the Department of Health and Human Services.

See r. 7—Adoption Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Where the child is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent

The applicants must have a suitable appreciation of the importance of and commitment to maintaining :

  • and developing the child's Aboriginal identity
  • a connection between the child and members of the Aboriginal community to which the child belongs.

See Adopting an Aboriginal child.

How is fitness assessed?

The first step for a person who wants to adopt a child in Victoria is to attend an information session. The Department of Health and Human services will require any prospective parents to undergo a medical examination a criminal record check. They will also have to provide references and proof of the length of their relationship.

If the department or agency finds that the applicants are fit and proper persons their details will be added to the list of fit and proper applicants.

See Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)—Adoption(opens in a new window).

How to challenge a decision

A person who is not approved as a fit and proper person may apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for a review of the decision.

The applicant has 28 days from the later of these 2 dates:

  • the day that the decision was made or
  • the date that the person asked for a statement of reasons for a decision.

See s. 129A—Adoption Act 1984 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

More information

Legislation

Adoption Act 2008 (Vic)

  • s. 13—approval of persons to adopt a child
  • s. 31A—register of approved persons
  • s. 15(1)(a)—certain matters that the court must be satisfied of before an adoption order is made
  • s. 129A—review by VCAT

See Adoption Act 1984 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Adoption regulations 2019 (Vic)

  • r. 7—application for approval as a fit and proper person
  • Schedule 1, Form 1—application for approval as a fit and proper person to adopt a child

See Adoption Regulations 2019 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

Reference

Department of Health and Human Services

This Victorian government site has information about adoption and lists training dates for people who are interested in adopting.

See Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)—Adoption(opens in a new window).

Updated