Page 509 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 22 March 2023
including infants, and increasing the support available to parents when they are making very difficult decisions.
This bill does not regulate decisions where the person themselves is consenting to the treatment, including a legally consenting child. The capacity to consent is covered by existing common law and is unchanged by this reform. It does not replace parental decision-making. Parents will be able to choose and consent to any treatment that the committees have agreed should be available. Parents will be able to apply for treatments to be approved. Parents will remain the people who consent to a treatment where their child is not providing that consent themselves.
This bill does not displace the important role of hospital multidisciplinary teams. The government supports referral to these teams, and advice from these teams would be among the information a committee would consider when making decisions. This bill will not prevent urgent medical treatments. The focus is on treatments which can be deferred without medical risk and allowing children to be as involved as possible in the treatments they receive.
On behalf of all of my colleagues in the government, we are proud of the reform we present to the Assembly today, but it is important that we take this moment to acknowledge why the reform is necessary. We are here today because of the long journey and the traumatic experiences of many people in our community. Intersex people have been harmed. Some of the treatments they received did not meet their care needs. Treatments did not uphold their rights—treatments that were undertaken without their personal consent and that have caused them lifelong distress.
To people with variations in sex characteristics, and their families, who have experienced these harms, whether they are listening here in the Assembly today or whether they are out in the community, we offer a new approach, an approach that seeks to prevent those experiences from being repeated. The ACT government holds up this bill and the reforms that are implemented alongside it as a promise of change. We endeavour to work with each individual to ensure that each person is respected, celebrated and, most importantly, given every opportunity to make their own decisions about their own body.
I want to acknowledge the many people with variations in sex characteristics who have made this reform possible. For their advocacy, I thank A Gender Agenda, Intersex Human Rights Australia and Intersex Peer Support Australia. I particularly recognise the tireless work of Morgan Carpenter. Thank you, Morgan. I would also like to thank Equality Australia for their assistance. I express my deep gratitude to those who have engaged with us in this process and who have shared their stories with us. These people include two Canberrans I am very proud of, Cody Smith and Steph Lum, two champions of the intersex community who have called for changed behaviour and approaches to treatments and increased visibility of diversity of bodies.
The government is proud of Canberra—that we are an inclusive city, the most inclusive in Australia. We are proud to be continuing our steps in implementing our Capital of Equality Strategy. This bill is a really important element in fulfilling that strategy.