Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 3928..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
The changes will ensure that tattooing and body piercing of children and young people are undertaken for that reason with their parent's or guardian's permission and will impose penalties where needed. It is certainly not a frivolous change. It is proposed to minimise the impact of a piercing on a young person's appearance and whether this then may have adverse health, social or employment implications for them down the track.
As the craze has grown, so has the emergence of blood-borne viruses, notably hepatitis B, HIV and the hepatitis C virus. Tattooing and body piercing have become potential routes of blood-borne viruses. There is a risk, for example, of damage to a body part in terms of chipped teeth from a tongue piercing, damaged facial nerves or damaged milk ducts in nipples.
The bill also addresses the inappropriateness and potential criminality of the more invasive forms of procedures—for example, genital piercing—performed on children and young people. The bill seeks to address this inappropriateness and ensures the importance of parental consent. Whilst it recognises the potential conflict between parental authority and a young person's autonomy, particularly between the ages of 16 and 18, there are concerns regarding the ability of under-18-year-olds to make informed decisions.
In recent years, society's values have changed considerably. The practices of tattooing and body piercing were once perhaps considered a fad. They are now more prevalent. Some children have pierced ears, a smaller number have navel or nose piercings, an even smaller number have other forms such as eyebrow and tongue piercing, and then there are some of the more extreme piercings I have mentioned, such as genital piercing.
Already, in some circumstances, such as consent for a serious surgical procedure, it would generally be considered that the consent of a parent or guardian should be obtained for a person under the age of 18. To be able to give informed consent for a tattoo or piercing, it is suggested that a young person would require the capacity to understand the long-term implications, including possible family, social and employment impacts, the risk of scarring or disfigurement, the possibility of infection and, in the case of tattoos, the difficulty of removing them. There is also the ability and capacity to select a provider who complies with the minimum hygiene standards, and the need to understand and implement wound care and infection control advice.
I will leave it there. Hopefully, I will have more talks with the government. I look forward to responses and feedback from members on what I have proposed today. But we do need to look seriously at the matter, particularly from a health aspect, as I have said. I thank members for their time today and I commend the bill to the house.
Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell ) adjourned to the next sitting.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.19): I move:
That this Assembly: