Without Consent - Australia's Past Adoption Practices

Without Consent

Without Consent is on exhibition at the Museum of the Riverina's Historic Council Chambers site from 10 March – 24 June 2017.

Moving experiences of heartbreak and resilience, shared by people affected by Australia’s past adoption practices.

It is estimated that at least 150,000 adoptions took place in Australia from the 1950s to the 1970s. A significant number of them were forced adoptions. Many of the women who had their babies taken were unmarried and, because of the stigma attached to unmarried mothers at the time, were often forced to live a lie for decades. For some, it was a secret they took to their graves.

Without Consent: Australia's Past Adoption Practices was developed by the National Archives of Australia following former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s national apology to those affected by forced adoptions. The exhibition aims to show the truth – that the babies taken for adoption were dearly loved and wanted by their parents.

One letter in the exhibition, from a mother to her son, read ‘I loved you so much it hurt, and I loved you much more than I loved myself; that was why I was prepared to sacrifice my happiness for yours’.

The exhibition is a tribute to the courage and generosity of those who volunteered to share their experiences and, in doing so, exposed this aspect of Australia’s history.

You can find out more at the Forced Adoptions History Project website, which was created by the National Archives of Australia to accompany the exhibition.

Without Consent is a national touring exhibition developed and presented by the National Archives of Australia.

Exhibition Launch

On Tuesday 21 March, the Museum of the Riverina will officially launch the Without Consent exhibition's time in Wagga, that day being the four year anniversary of the National Apology for Forced Adoptions.

Our special guest for the evening, Thomas Graham, knows these stories all too well. An adopted person himself, Thomas participated in early focus groups for the Without Consent exhibition, and was the director of the Australian Journal of Adoption for seven years.

Thomas is also a former resident of Wagga Wagga, and as such will talk about the significance of the exhibition, and the impacts of Australia's Past Adoptions Practices on communities such as ours.

When: Tuesday 21 March, 7:00pm

Where: Museum's Historic Council Chambers site, cnr Baylis and Morrow St.

Please RSVP using the form below or by calling 6926 9655


Floor Talk

Join exhibition contributor Thomas Graham and staff from the National Archives of Australia for a one hour walk through the Without Consent exhibition.

Wednesday 22nd March, 10am


To prevent their mothers catching sight of them, babies were often taken straight to the hospital crèche like this one photographed in 1954.