She’s long been a passionate advocate for adoption and shares two adopted children with her husband, Hugh Jackman.
And this week, Deborra-lee Furness revealed that despite her philanthropy, she’s been targeted in the past by ‘anti-adoption people’.
Speaking on the Future Women’s Drive podcast, the 64-year-old said that she has been ‘pummelled’ by people who for some reason oppose adoption.
Despite the criticism, the Correlli star said she wasn’t discouraged.
‘I got pummelled,’ Deborra-lee said. ‘I had a lot of the anti-adoption people really come at me.’
She added that she was determined to help children find safe homes, despite the backlash from some quarters.
‘I had to really sit and think about, like, “Am I doing the right thing?”‘ she said. ‘And I did all my work and I looked at it and thought, “No, these children need a home.” I just kept going.’
Deborra-lee explained that she never intended to be an advocate for adoption.
‘I didn’t step out to do this… I never set out to be an advocate, that’s not really who I am,’ the film director said.
‘I reached out and tried to just add my two bob’s worth and just by talking about it, I thought it’ll get attention. I thought the people in the community would take over.’
Deborra-lee and Hugh, 51, share two adopted children, son Oscar, 20, and daughter Ava, 15.
In April last year, Deborra-lee spoke candidly about her and Hugh’s adoption journey in a column for Stellar magazine.
‘The universe had a plan in place,’ she wrote, explaining that the couple were unable to conceive children naturally.
She said they decided to begin the adoption process about a decade ago, and chose to do so in America instead of Australia because the laws are less strict in the U.S.
‘Those who knew that Hugh and I had adopted our children Oscar and Ava in the U.S. would come up to me in the street and ask: “Why is it so hard to adopt in Australia?”‘ she added.
She said this prompted her to arrange a meeting with the Australian Prime Minister at the time to speak about the issue.
Now the founder of Adopt Change, an advocacy group which campaigns to make adoption easier in Australia, Deborra-lee slammed current legislation.
She said: ‘The security of love helps develop self-esteem, building a child’s confidence and helping them contribute all they have to offer.
‘Still today, tens of thousands of children are stuck in the statutory care system, not knowing what it is to find permanency with their carers.’
In February 2015, Deborra-lee, who was nominated for Australian of the Year for her work in raising awareness about adoption, spoke to The Drum about the subject.
She said: ‘We are in the process of change now. I mean, I’ve been speaking out about this for eight years…and now we are speaking with the politicians.’
In January that year, she told The Daily Telegraph that families wanting to adopt shouldn’t give up hope.
‘Be proactive, speak to the local ministers, advocates, until you get traction,’ she said. ‘I am a big believer in mind over matter. Where there is a will, there is a way.’