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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 2 August 2018) . . Page.. 2621 ..

As Greens spokesperson for women and an advocate for the rights of all women, I would like to make some final comments on the nature of restrictive practices specifically in relation to sexual and reproductive health for women with disability. As I mentioned at the start of my speech, restrictive practices can include chemical or pharmacological methods, and this includes contraception. It has only been in the last few decades that the practice of forced female sterilisation has stopped being common for women with disability. Last year Women with Disabilities ACT produced a report entitled Contraception and consent. As highlighted in the report, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women entrenches the reproductive rights of all women, including access to contraception and sexual health education. The report stresses:

If forced sterilisation is now almost unanimously condemned, coercion remains acceptable when it is used for … contraception.

According to much of the research on this issue, as cited in the report, the reasons this is still regarded as acceptable are societal fear about parenting for people with disability, negating the consequence of high rates of sexual abuse, and managing menstruation.

While recognising that these factors do pose genuine concerns and challenges for carers of people with disability, these are issues which can, in general, be addressed through appropriate support and education and not solely or principally by impinging on the rights of women with disability. We already have in the ACT examples of high quality programs to support people with disability in understanding their sexual and reproductive health needs, such as have been developed by Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT. I hope the work of the senior practitioner will encourage inclusive and rights-based approaches to support this.

All too often, people with disability, and women with disability, are not given a voice in the decisions that impact them. The role of the senior practitioner to consult and provide supports for care providers is an important opportunity to redress this marginalisation. As I said the Greens support this bill.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (12.04): I rise today to speak briefly on the Senior Practitioner Bill. This proposed legislation is broad in scope and defines providers as either a person or other entity who offers educational services, disability services or the care and protection of children. This means that it will involve children and young people in out of home care.

On this point I honour the good families in Canberra who volunteer to serve as foster carers and kinship carers. This is a labour of love, but it is not always an easy one. Carers take into their homes and into their lives children and young people who are at their most vulnerable, having been removed from their birth parents. In the best of circumstances, this is a complicated situation, and those in out of home care often enter the homes of foster or kinship carers having experienced trauma or having very high needs.

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