Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 01, 2022


Student Support Services

The Hon. S.L. GAME (15:27): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Attorney-General, representing the Minister for Education, Training and Skills, on the department's student support services.

Leave granted.

The Hon. S.L. GAME: The drift from parental rights with one's own child has gone too far. A publication from the Department for Education, Training and Skills titled 'Gender diverse and intersex children and young people support procedure' stipulates the process to be followed to support gender diverse and intersex minors. This document applies to all department staff in schools, preschools and care settings, family day care educators and respite care program care providers.

Pages 7 and 8 of this document refer specifically to parents who do not currently support their child's gender affirmation. This document states:

When parents make it clear they do not support their child's gender affirmation, the site leader must decide what is in the best interests of the child or young person.

The document also states:

If the site leader determines that supporting gender affirmation is in a child or young person's best interest, this procedure must be followed to make support arrangements for them.

I want to make clear that these are direct quotes from the document publicly available on the education department's website. It also notes that the same site leader is under the authority to determine if 'the child or young person has the capacity to make an informed decision to affirm their gender'. It lists three basic steps to determine this, without any reference to mental health history, social or cultural influences.

I have met multiple parents who have a child on this journey. They love their child, but they are distressed and feel excluded from investigating anything other than an affirmation pathway. My questions are:

1. What research supports the government to authorise a site leader to overrule a parent and make their own determination about the best pathway forward for a child or young person?

2. What expertise and training do the site leaders have that make them better positioned to overrule the parent or guardian?

3. How is it acceptable policy that the mitigating factors for determining an informed decision from a minor do not include mental health history?

4. What inquiries have been made about developing international best practice to adopt a wait-and-see approach with children, given recent developments in the UK, Finland, Sweden and France?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:29): I thank the honourable member for her questions and will refer them to the minister responsible in the other place and bring back a reply.