Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 20 March 2014) . . Page.. 685 ..
In doing so, the bill firstly amends the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997. It extends the period in which registration of a birth must be made from 60 days to six months. This allows parents time to confirm the sex of a child. It removes the requirement for sexual reassignment surgery when a person makes application to alter their sex in the births register. Such an application requires either the person has received appropriate clinical treatment or the person is an intersex person according to the definition in the Legislation Act 2001, which this bill also amends.
In the case of an application to alter the register for a child, the bill requires a parent or person with parental responsibility to also consider whether the alteration is in the best interests of the child. It sets out the requirements relating to supporting evidence in an application. This includes a statutory declaration from a doctor or psychologist that the person has received clinical treatment or is an intersex person.
The legislation removes the term “transsexual” as redundant for the purpose of making an application to change the register, particularly because sexual reassignment surgery will no longer be required. It provides that a person whose sex is changed in the register does not lose an entitlement under a will, trust or a territory law unless the will, trust or law states otherwise.
The bill also establishes that under the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act the ACT will recognise the sex of a person as stated in an interstate recognition certificate given under a corresponding law. Western Australia and South Australia currently qualify.
The bill also amends the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Regulation 1998 to require a notice of birth to state the sex of a child only if it is determinable and to make a small number of other minor changes. As I noted earlier, the bill amends the Legislation Act 2001. The definition of “intersex” is amended such that an intersex person will have certain stated physical, hormonal or genetic features, and this is consistent with the definition in the commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984.
This bill impacts on a small proportion of the population and is likely not to have significant consequence to the broader community. Nonetheless, it is important that these reforms occur for a number of people in our community in terms of easing the anguish particularly that intersex people suffer in their daily lives. It should be acknowledged that there is a risk that the system could be abused but I consider that risk to be very low, because changing the register is not a critical element for those who would seek to engage in antisocial behaviours.
However, there are a number of concerns about this bill that need to be highlighted and monitored, and I will turn to those. The first is that this bill carries a significant anomaly. It allows a person, in providing supporting evidence for an application to change the register, to obtain a statutory declaration from a psychologist. According to the Australian Psychological Society, psychologists are experts in human behaviour. They use scientific methods to study the factors that influence the way people think, feel and learn and evidence-based strategies and interventions to help people overcome the challenges and improve their performance.