Raise our Voice Speech

13 November 2023

Today I rise to speak in support of the Raise Our Voice in Parliament campaign. This is a fantastic initiative which brings young Australians' voices into the nation's parliament. Australia's youth are one of the most engaged groups of people in our nation, and too often their valuable contributions are not heard. I received several important speeches as part of this year's campaign, and I thank everyone who took the time and effort to contribute a speech. Unfortunately, I can't read them all, but today I will be reading a speech written by one of my constituents, 21-year-old Isabella Gockel.

A change that would undoubtedly make Australia a better place for future generations would be the passing of laws that protect intersex people's rights.

Unfortunately, many Australians are not aware of the fight for intersex rights, despite its persistence and urgency.

Intersex people are people whose sex characteristics, such as their chromosomes or reproductive developments, differ from medical norms for female or male bodies.

In all states and territories, except for the ACT, it is legal for unnecessary surgeries to be performed on intersex people without their consent.

Doctors are allowed to surgically modify intersex people at birth simply to make their sex characteristics appear more typically male or female.

This harmful practice violates the human rights of intersex people and must be criminalised by all other states and territories. I urge all politicians in this chamber to make intersex rights a priority, and to follow the ACT's lead in protecting intersex people from unnecessary surgeries that occur without their consent.

For too long the right to bodily autonomy has been denied to intersex people. Let's ensure their rights are not denied for a moment longer.

Thank you, Isabella, for your thoughtful speech. It's fantastic to see the ACT government leading the way on protecting intersex rights. For too long, the advocacy of the LGBTIQA+ community has fallen on deaf ears, especially when it comes to the unique health challenges they face, particularly for intersex people. I want to let Isabella and all of my constituents know that the Albanese government is taking these challenges and issues incredibly seriously.

That's why we've committed to developing Australia's first LGBTIQA+ 10-year National Action Plan for the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ people. The expert advisory group leading the development of this plan will target priority issues that will help our government develop a long-term plan for the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ Australians that enables them to lead their best and healthiest lives.

I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleague Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney for her work on this and for ensuring that LGBTIQA+ Australians get a seat at the table when it comes to the unique health challenges they face. Once again, I want to thank Isabella and all my constituents who submitted a speech for this campaign. As in previous years, it was difficult to choose just one.