Irish abuse probe reaches Australia

Australian victims of forced adoptions in Northern Ireland dating back decades are being urged to break their silence and come forward.

Federal police have begun working with the Police Service of Northern Ireland to find women and children affected by institutional abuse.

The net is being cast as wide as anyone who gave birth in, or who was adopted from select institutions between 1922 and 1990.

It is part of a Northern Irish police investigation into allegations of abuse within Mother and Baby Institutions, Work Houses and Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland.

These institutions, run by churches with government funding, were where Irish women were sent to have children, work or spend time in incarceration.

Public inquiries have revealed them as abusive institutions.

Mass graves of women and undocumented babies have been found on the former sites of some of the institutions.

Thousands of people lived, worked or visited these institutions over the 68-year-period and Northern Irish police now believe some of them live in Australia.

Officers in the dedicated investigation team have now received 88 reports; many of which include allegations of inconsistencies with birth records from those who were adopted from Northern Irish institutions and now live overseas.

Enquires to date suggest there could be more victims and witnesses, with many moving or being adopted to countries overseas like Australia.

Northern Ireland police Detective Superintendent Gary Reid said officers cared about what victims would have to say and would work to support them.

"We don't want anyone to feel they have to suffer in silence anymore," he said.

Police have set up dedicated reporting system is in place to make it easier for people to report.

Australian residents can email or call 0011 4428 9090 1728.