On 1 June 2018, the LGBTI Taskforce Justice and Health and Human Services Working Groups met jointly for the first time, to discuss key work areas of mutual interest and identify potential future priorities. The meeting was co-chaired by Gabrielle Williams MP, Ruth McNair and Anna Brown.
The meeting commenced with the co-chairs providing an overview of key work areas across the LGBTI Taskforce and both the Working Groups. These include:
- the LGBTI Taskforce working towards the development and implementation of a Whole of Victorian Government LGBTI Strategy;
- the Health and Human Services Working Group undertaking work on a Trans and Gender Diverse Service System Development Project; Intersex Policy and Resource Project; a LGBTI Inclusive Practice Forum for hospitals and health services; Community Health Pride; the Victorian Population Health Survey; and an update of the Rainbow eQuality online resource; and
- the focus on both legislative and non-legislative work of the Justice Working Group including: birth certificate reforms; working with Corrections Victoria on the development of the Commissioner’s Requirements for the Management of Prisoners who are Trans, Gender Diverse or Intersex; working with Justice Health on the Health care policy for prisoners who are trans, gender diverse or intersex; working with Victoria Police and future engagement with Youth Justice.
Specific matters considered
Working Group members discussed the following issues:
Conversion therapy: Members noted that the Minister for Health has requested the Health Complaints Commissioner (the Commissioner) to undertake an inquiry into therapeutic practices intended to change the participant’s gender or sexual identity. The Commissioner has been empowered to investigate and act against unregistered practitioners who undertake conversion therapy, and is keen to hear from individuals who have been impacted by the practice.
Inclusive practice: Members noted an update on the Australian Government’s Religious Freedom Review, which is expected to be released later in 2018. Members also noted work being progressed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to strengthen LGBTI inclusion and non-discrimination in its agreements and contracts with service providers. The Working Groups highlighted the need for increased and improved training of LGBTI inclusive practice for DHHS staff within adoption services across Victoria.
LGBTI Homelessness: Working Group members were briefed on recent work undertaken by the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia and the University of Melbourne on LGBTQ homelessness (see reports at www.lgbtihomeless.org.au ), and noted intersections with justice: prisons, youth justice and forensic services. Some issues raised by the Working Groups include: how best to accommodate people who are gender diverse in a system with gender binary bed-based services, particularly in crisis and emergency accommodation services; the need for policy direction to connect with work being undertaken within family violence and acute care services; and the importance of improved data collection of LGBTI people within homelessness and accommodation services.
Trans and Gender Diverse Health Services: Working Group members noted with delight the recent decision of the full Family Court (Re Kelvin) in relation to stage two hormone treatment, which means that court authorisation is no longer required to access stage two hormone treatment. Members also noted the work being undertaken to finalise the Development of trans and gender services in Victoria report by the Australian Healthcare Associates, and the recent 2018-19 State budget announcement of $3.4 million over four years for additional trans and gender diverse health services in Victoria.
The Working Groups discussed the issue around the age gap for children between 16-18 years of the current services provided by the Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Health Gender Clinics. Members noted that one of the intents of the State budget investment will be to address the age gap concerns that exist with the currently funded services.
Members also noted the review of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 commissioned by the Government, and the need to include fertility preservation for trans and gender diverse people prior to hormone initiation for gender affirmation.
Intersex Policy and Resource Project: Working Group members noted the work being undertaken on the DHHS Intersex Policy and Resource Project through the department’s Intersex Expert Advisory Group. Members identified the completion of the Intersex Policy and Resource Project as a priority area for the Government. The Working Groups also affirmed the Darlington Statement (see https://ihra.org.au/32049/affirm-darlington-statement ), which is a joint consensus statement by Australian and New Zealand intersex organisations and independent advocates, in March 2017, and sets out priorities under six headings: a preamble; human rights and legal reform; health and wellbeing; peer support; allies; and education, awareness and employment.
The joint meeting of the two Working Groups was very beneficial in identifying matters of mutual interest, and provided an opportunity for the exchanging of information, and networking.