Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Extension of Maternity Payment to Parents of Adopted Children Up to Two Years of Age

Parents adopting children up to the age of two years, from either Australia or overseas, will now be eligible for the Howard Government’s Maternity Payment.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson today said the Government had committed funding of $6.6 million over five years.

“This payment, which is currently $3,079 per child, recognises that families who adopt a child under two years of age face similar costs to families with newborns,” Senator Patterson said.

“Previously the Maternity Payment was available to families adopting a child who was under the age of 26 weeks, now the Howard Government has extended it, for both local and overseas adoptions, up to two years of age.”

Families need to lodge a claim within 26 weeks of the child coming into their care, provided that the Maternity Payment has not previously been paid in respect of the adopted child, and for overseas adoptions the family must lodge the claim within 26 weeks of a child, aged up to two years, entering Australia.

This measure will also be backdated to include children (for whom a payment has not already been made) who were adopted on or after 1 July 2004, the date the Maternity Payment was introduced.

The Maternity Payment will increase to $4000 from July 2006 and $5000 from July 2008.

“Over 250,000 families are expected to receive the Maternity Payment each year and I am delighted to be able to extend this payment to parents of adopted children under two years of age,” Senator Patterson said.