Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Honourable Jill Hennessy, the Minister for Health. I call on the Minister for Health to formally allocate funding in the government’s 2015–16 budget to the Royal Children’s Hospital gender dysphoria service. Gender dysphoria is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists to describe people who experience significant discontent with the sex and gender they were assigned at birth. A greater awareness of transgender identities and nonbinary bodies has meant that the number of children accessing medical treatment to help them transition to the gender with which they identify has increased exponentially.
In 2014 Dr Michelle Telfer, a clinical leader at the Royal Children’s Hospital and the head of the gender dysphoria service, noted that she had received 104 new referrals of genderquestioning children and adolescents, equating to 2 per week. There were also possible referrals that required further assessment. In 2015 that number has increased enormously and it is estimated that the rate will continue to escalate.
Currently the waiting list for treatment is one year, and Dr Telfer has advised that without any funding for more staff, the department will have a crisis within six months. She went on to tell me that among young people who are not supported in expressing and having treatment for their gender dysphoria, approximately 30 per cent will attempt suicide, and the evidence is that they are at greatest risk in the time between deciding they want to pursue treatment and actually being able to access the treatment. The impact of this underfunded service places enormous emotional and physical strain not only on the children seeking the service but also on their families, who face significant financial and legal barriers to access this lifechanging, and in many circumstances lifesaving, treatment. Dedicated funding for the Royal Children’s Hospital gender dysphoria service will ensure that children who are going through tumultuous changes can access the treatment they desperately require.