Taking a rights-based approach, we seek to have an impact on practitioners, the judiciary, and policymakers to promote the best interests of children and their families.
To achieve our aims, we are fostering multidisciplinary collaborations (for example, with academics in economics, sociology, psychology) as well as translation of research findings to inform policy and practice in the out-of-home care sector. Projects include research commissioned by government and non-government organisations.
Our goal is to understand more about the different pathways to permanence for children in out-of-home care, and their families. Research into the long-term impacts of professional decision-making and the effectiveness of services provided to children and families has the potential to improve children’s outcomes and relationships.
In January 2015, the NSW government announced a $2.8 million package to establish an Institute of Open Adoption Studies to focus on matters relating to open adoption for children and young people in out-of-home care (when reunification with their family is not appropriate). The University of Sydney and Barnardos Australia were selected to form the institute as a joint venture.
The institute operates as an independent centre and conducts research under the University of Sydney’s governance and ethics policies.
Barnardos is one of three non-government adoption agencies in NSW. In the past 30 years, it has overseen open adoptions of more than 200 children. Barnardos staff are considered national experts in adoption practice and are often consulted to provide expert advice and evidence to governments, courts, and other key bodies.
The Institute of Open Adoption Studies aims to:
The institute comprises a research team, a governance committee and an advisory group.
This group provides advice and guidance to the Director. We acknowledge there are diverse views on adoption and thus the need to engage with a range of stakeholders.
Members of the group include representatives spanning a range of perspectives and expertise in open adoption. This group provides a means of engaging stakeholders in the life and work of the institute and ensures the views and lived experience of children, young people and families, as well as practitioners and peak agencies, is central to the institute's research agenda.