Australian Newsletter

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By Australian Newsletter

The ideology of gender fluidity, in which the binary reality of male and female is not fixed, may secure its greatest victory thus far by the release of Guidelines for the Inclusion of Transgender and Gender Diverse People in Sport by the Australian Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports (COMPPS) and Sport Australia.  COMPPS comprises the Australian Football League, Cricket Australia, Football Federation Australia, National Rugby League, Netball Australia, Rugby Australia and Tennis Australia, in which it declares more than “9 million people participate … through 16,000 clubs”.

The victory will lie in the imposition of the ideology and some of the practices of gender fluidity on almost 33% of Australians.  In its letter of endorsement, COMPPS proclaims the Guidelines “provide a significant opportunity for all involved in Australian sports, from grassroots participants and clubs to governing bodies, to reflect on how they can facilitate diversity and inclusion”.  But, from the Guidelines, it is clear the “opportunity for reflection” really means “time to prepare for obedience” to the dictates of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act which, though intended in 1984 to protect biological females, was amended in 2013 to include the gender diverse.

In sport, the amendments will discriminate against the sex the Act was meant to protect.  The Safe Schools Programs proclaimed the ideology of gender fluidity to children under the camouflage of anti-bullying.  Under the banner of anti-discrimination, its beliefs and doctrines will be imposed by legal force on the mums and dads, their children, and all teachers, officials and volunteers responsible for the running of sporting competitions across the nation.  By including males transgendered to females they will remove protection of the “safe space” of female sport through participation of people whose nature-endowed strengths will belie any psychological claim for parity.

By including natal males in dressing rooms of their choice, they will threaten the “safe space” of female privacy.  As we know it, women’s sport is a recent phenomenon.  It was only in 1900 that a few women participated in the Olympic Games.  In the 1928 Games, their number had increased to 2.2 per cent of participants and, by 2016, to 45 per cent.  This emancipation from male-dominated culture has been rightly welcomed and it is hard to comprehend that society could, one way or another, submit to the return of male domination, if not by boys and men in trousers, by natal males in leotards.

The Guidelines are addressed to everyone involved in sport: “from management committees, to coaches, staff and volunteers, umpires and officials, and to members of the public, including parents and care givers of players”.  Pointedly, the Guidelines are directed to anyone “interested in the new legal obligations of sporting organisations”.  The Guidelines define “gender related identity” as including the “appearance, mannerisms, or other gender related characteristics of a person (whether by way of medical intervention or not) with or without regard to the person’s designated sex at birth”.

Gender diversity “includes transgender, gender queer, non-binary, gender non-conforming and many more”.  The Guidelines declare “it is unlawful” to discriminate against such people in regard to membership, participation and off-field facilities, or to ask for personal information that might lead to discrimination.  The details of what might actually constitute discrimination are not clear and clubs are warned:  “The Guidelines do not provide a definitive legal answer to all of the issues of discrimination, and an organisation or individual will not be protected from a finding of unlawful discrimination if they claim that they complied with, or relied on, these Guidelines”.

Implementation of the Guidelines will merely “minimise the likelihood of a successful discrimination claim being made”.  The Guidelines do make it clear that both an individual or an organisation which has been found to discriminate, and a person who aids and permits that discrimination, can be held liable under the Act.  They emphasise it is “important to note that a sporting organisation can be liable for the actions of their employees or agents” who are discriminating, or making “an unlawful request for information”.  To make things even more intimidating, under the Act the burden of proof is reversed, rendering the accused guilty until innocence is proven.

A miracle within that miracle should not be overlooked.  The prevalence of gender dysphoria in adults is reported by the Diagnostic and Scientific Manual of Mental Health (DSM) in 2013 to range from 0.005 per cent to 0.04 per cent in males, and from 0.002 per cent to 0.003 per cent in females.  The Guidelines of 2019 suggest the numbers have increased to the point of filling an allocation of 20 per cent in sporting teams.  The new religion has its own loaves and fishes.  To this nonsense, the Guidelines reassure us that the power of the devil, testosterone, in the veins of natal men transgendered to women is overestimated.

Source: Article by Dr John Whitehall, Professor of Paediatrics at Western Sydney University written in the  Quadrant Magazine.


By Australian Newsletter

Australia’s first indigenous surgeon says he is terrified by the WA government’s plan to let doctors suggest voluntary assisted dying, describing patients in remote areas as often so thankful to see a specialist that they are “very compliant”.  Associate professor Kelvin Kong, of the Worimi people of Port Stephens north of Newcastle in NSW, said the priority should be change that improved the treatment and survival chances of indigenous Australians with life-threatening illness.  Indigenous people with cancer tended to present late when their symptoms were well advanced, he said by way of example.

While Australia’s overall cancer survival rates were among the best in the world, there was a big disparity between the incidence and survival rates of Australians who were non-indigenous and Australians who were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.  “We are jumping to an end-stage conversation when we haven’t got all the pathways in cancer management leading up to palliative care,” he said.  Victoria was the first state to pass voluntary assisted dying laws in June, although its legislation lets doctors discuss it as an option only at a patient’s instigation.

In Western Australia, a bill that would allow doctors to raise the prospect of voluntary assisted dying with patients passed the lower house last month.  Debate in the upper house is to begin in November.  The case for euthanasia laws is being considered in Queensland, while South Australia is also contemplating reform.  Professor Kong, an ear, nose and throat specialist who treats cancer patients in remote Aboriginal communities, said he was open to the concept of voluntary assisted dying laws but he believed that in terms of priorities in indigenous health, the debate was happening in the wrong order.

“If we are serious about indigenous betterment, we really need to increase things like early interventions,” he said.  As a member of the Cancer Australia Advisory Board, Professor Kong contributed to a guide for the treatment of indigenous cancer patients that encourages doctors to focus on prevention and early detection, gives them suggestions about how to get indigenous people to feel safe going to a doctor and offers tips for how to talk to an indigenous cancer patient about treatment.

Asked whether he had concerns about the proposed WA law allowing a doctor instigate a conversation with an Aboriginal person about voluntary assisted dying, he said:  “Yes, it terrifies me because you don’t know who that doctor is.  “There are some I know would handle it well and others not” he said.  “Our medical training is not really good at teaching us an understanding of cultural complexities, particularly with our most disenfranchised people.”  Professor Kong said his urban patients, including indigenous, were generally confident about their ability to make an informed decision but in rural and remote Australia he met patients who were just thankful to finally see a specialist.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports




By Australian Newsletter

Eleven terminally-ill Victorians have received approval to end their lives using government-endorsed medication through Australia’s only voluntary euthanasia scheme.  The 11 people have been granted access since the scheme came into effect on June 19, an independent review board has confirmed.  The review board also released its first report into the scheme, which covers only the first 11 days of operation and shows no data on assessments, applications, approvals, and medications dispensed.  “We will be able to report more fully in the future about how the laws are working, including data,” board chair Betty King said in a statement.

“Right now numbers are small and we need to protect the privacy of the patients and doctors using it.”  Data will be included in future reports to allow the community to have informed discussions about the sensitive topic.  “It will also help us in making recommendations to improve how the law operates,” Ms King said.  The next report is due in February and reviews will be delivered every six months for the first two years before moving annually.  More than 300 doctors, including GPs, cancer specialists and palliative care clinicians from across the state are undertaking mandatory, specialist training on the scheme. Of those, about one third practise in regional Victoria.

In July, grandmother Kerry Robertson, 61, died in a Bendigo nursing home under the new voluntary assisted dying laws. She was the first person to be granted a permit after visiting her specialist the day before the legislation came into effect on June 19. Victoria’s laws allow terminally-ill adults, in specific circumstances, to end their lives after two medical professionals have signed their application and a cooling-off period has passed. The state government expects up to 150 people a year will eventually use the scheme. Similar laws are being considered in Western Australia and Queensland.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Rugby Australia’s objection to the posts at issue was not their religious content but rather their tone and attributes.  Did Rugby Australoia (RA) boss Raelene Castle watch The Castle and rework Dennis Denuto’s “vibe of the thing” into the “tone of the thing?”  If RA’s killer point, outlined in its defence is enough to allow them to sack Israel Folau, then we are all in trouble.  If the wrong tone in an employee’s social media post, rather than the substance of that post, is enough to end a career, what’s next?  RA has made a number of assertions in its defence filed in the Federal Circuit Court and served on Folau’s legal team the same day.

To avoid the accusation that they sacked a man for his religious beliefs, RA’s defence is that they sacked Folau because of the tone of his posts.  This is how RA plans to fend off claims by Folau that his termination was unlawful for breaching section 772 of the Fair Work Act which makes it illegal to terminate a person’s employment for reason of, or for reasons that include, his religion.  RA also claims that Folau knew his social media posts in April last year, and again this year, were offensive to some people, and that Folau freely contracted to curb his social media usage, and that he conceded breaching his contract during a code of conduct tribunal hearing earlier this year.

RA’s core defence about the tone of Folau’s posts is extraordinary.  Who determines what is an unacceptable “tone”?  If RA does not object to the religious content of Folau’s posts, that must mean Folau is entitled to say homosexuals will go to Hell, but only if he says it nicely.  It means that RA accepts there could have been a way for the rugby champion to express the same sentiment, and not get sacked.  What words would RA have found acceptable? RA boss Raelene Castle claims that she told Folau he had “hurt and offended some people with his comment” that homosexuals would go to Hell, and that he needed to be “considered and respectful” in his social media posts.

Folau, an evangelical Christian, believes that his religion is both considered and respectful. Folau also believes that his calling is to evangelise his beliefs in his own personal time.  Two core issues, control and consequences, sit at the heart of RA’s defence.  First, RA claims the legal right to control how Folau expresses his or her religious faith away from the workplace.  Second, RA claims the right to impose the most severe consequences on Folau for failing to meet their demands.  This case will decide how much control an employer can or should have over an employee’s life away from his or her job.

Sporting bodies have long claimed control over how a rugby player behaves off the sporting field, for example requiring that they should not break the law by taking drugs or engage in violent behaviour because this brings the game into disrepute.  RA’s defence is that its legal authority reaches into new territory, claiming a legal right to control how a rugby player may or not paraphrase the Bible.  Contrary to some claims, RA cannot point to a specific clause in Folau’s contract aimed to control his social media usage.  There is only a generic clause in a code of conduct (although, to be clear, that code is incorporated into his contract).

Given the high stakes, and in fairness to Folau, RA should have given explicit instructions to Folau about his social media usage before they used a generic clause in a generic code of conduct to sack him? If the court decides that RA was entitled to sack Folau using an entirely subjective measure about “tone,” it will arm employers with tremendous power drawn from generic and widely worded codes of conduct to legally control the tone of an employee’s posts about their religious beliefs on private social media platforms.  Worse, it will mean that employees can be sacked at will by an employer for entirely subjective, highly contestable “tone” offences.

This dispute goes far beyond people disagreeing with Folau’s religious beliefs, or choosing to take offence over his social media posts.  It presumes enormous consequences can legally flow from people taking offence from a few social media posts about biblical teachings.  In employment law, there is nothing more enormous than bringing a person’s career to an end. RA has hung much of its defence on the decision of the tribunal earlier this year that the “termination of Folau’s Player Contract was the only clear practical way for RA and Rugby NSW to distance themselves from the views of Mr Folau’s in order to protect themselves from further damage.”

Folau’s legal team will surely challenge this in its response. Coupled with a clear public condemnation of Folau’s social media posts, RA could have suspended Folau.  RA could have said the sporting body vehemently disagrees with Folau, that his views are offensive to some, but that posting his religious beliefs on private social media platforms has no bearing on the game of rugby.  There were plenty of other options.  RA might have been more strategic, understanding that by taking the nuclear option, they turned Folau into a celebrity martyr and caused damage to the game, and RA’s reputation.

RA has gone to great lengths in its defence to say that its termination rests on Folau’s concession at the tribunal hearing that he breached the code of conduct.  It is true that Folau made concessions at the hearing, to try to mitigate the damage and lessen any penalty, rather than to hand RA the justification to sack him.  Folau seems to have put little faith in the Tribunal hearing. Indeed, his legal team must have been concerned that RA had a self-serving agenda in nominating Kate Eastman SC to the three-person code-of-conduct panel which ruled on Folau, given Eastman’s long history of pushing for new “rights” against discrimination in the workplace and in the law.

RA also claims that fundamental principles of freedom of contract mean that Folau knowingly agreed to restrict his social media usage.  Expect Folau’s team to point out that the entire industrial relations system, including the Fair Work Act, is premised on limiting what can and cannot be agreed between parties of unequal bargaining power.  And that Section 772 cannot be contracted out of.  The central question remains whether Folau was sacked because of, or for reasons that included, his religion.  On this point, RA bears the onus of proving that the “tone” of the thing was enough to warrant terminating Folau’s contract.

Source: An article written by Janet Albrechtsen columnist for The Australian

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By Australian Newsletter

Australia’s peak Catholic education body has warned the government its draft religious discrimination act needs revisions because there is nothing in the bill to stop the states and territories from passing new laws driving faith from the public square.  The National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) is joining with a growing number of groups in questioning whether the protections in the government’s draft bill will allow faith based educators to preference teachers on their religion when it comes to hiring decisions.  Scott Morrison’s decision to defer consideration of religious exemptions in anti-discrimination regimes, including the treatment of gay students and teachers at faith based schools, to the Australian Law Reform Commission is also identified as a key problem.

“There is a risk that following the ALRC process, further work (including new legislation (or amendments)) will be required.  It would be better for all issues to be dealt with at once,” the NCEC submission says. The NCEC warns that, once the ALRC inquiry is conducted, further changes to the government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Act (RDA) may be needed or the ability of Catholic schools to operate according to their ethos could be put at risk.  Concerns are also raised at the draft bill’s definition of religious belief or activity as “engaging in lawful religious activity.”

The NCEC argues that legal changes passed by the states and territories could render currently accepted religious practices unlawful in the future, which would then “have the effect of making the activity of the Catholic school unlawful.”  “The word lawful is unnecessary and it should be deleted,” the submission says.  Alarm is expressed with the wording of section 10 of the draft bill which contains a positive right stating that religious bodies are free to act in accordance with their faith.  This section has raised alarm bells with a number of groups, including faith based educators like the Association of Independent Schools of NSW, which argue that section 10 is defined too narrowly and could fail to give protection to religious schools that preference teachers on their faith.

The NCEC notes that, in a Catholic school context, the values of the Gospel underpin all aspects of the school, even day to day operational matters.  “Catholic schools employ some staff who are not baptised as Catholics. In common with all staff, non-Catholic staff are required to be supportive of the teachings and mission of the Catholic Church, act as role models to students and do nothing that would undermine the transmission of those teachings.  “On a narrow reading of section 10, a secular authority may regard certain employment decisions as outside section 10 even though such decisions are vital to ensuring that a Catholic school operates as a Catholic school.”

The NCEC also warns that the RDA should include clearer provisions about the applicability of existing state and territory law, noting that some jurisdictions had passed laws which “encroach upon religious freedom.”  “Notwithstanding actions at the federal level to protect religious freedom, state and territories may continue to do so unless restrained by an item of overriding legislation,” he said.  “NCEC believes the time is right to consider the harmonisation of state and territory legislation with Commonwealth legislation which helps to protect religious schools from laws that would restrict their ability to pursue their mission.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports


By Australian Newsletter

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is fighting the anti-women Prostitution Decriminalisation Bill in South Australia sponsored by Attorney General Vickie Chapman.  We are in reach of significant policy reform for prostituted women in South Australia. ACL spokesperson for women and children, Wendy Francis, led a delegation of prostitution survivors and others who met with lower house members of parliament in relation to the prostitution decriminalisation bill.  We presented the awful realities of prostitution and argued that while we supported the decriminalisation of the sale of sex, we opposed the exploitation of women and the industrialisation of prostitution.

We urged the parliamentarians to support the Nordic Model where the buying of sex and the actions of pimps are criminalised and prostituted people are given genuine exit options.  Instead of helping women, Ms Chapman’s sponsored bill will lead to greater numbers of women, many of them trafficked from South-East Asia, being exploited.  We had a very good reception. The numbers in parliament are close.  We are within reach of a significant milestone in that South Australia may become the first jurisdiction in Australia to adopt Nordic. During our visits we were encouraged to hear from MPs that they had heard from many already who are opposed to the bill.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

Lawmakers in New South Wales have voted to overturn a 119-year-old law criminalizing abortion, drawing criticism from pro-life advocates.  After many weeks of debate, the New South Wales parliament voted to pass the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019.  The bill decriminalizes abortion and makes terminations available to women up to 22 weeks into their pregnancy without having to prove their mental or physical health will be impacted if they continue the pregnancy.  After 22 weeks, pregnant women seeking an abortion will need two specialist medical practitioners to sign off on the procedure.

The bill overturned a 119-year-old law that made it a criminal offense to obtain or administer an abortion in NSW.  Previously, abortions were only legal if a doctor deemed there was “serious risk” to a woman’s physical or mental health if she carried her baby to term.  “Unlawful abortion” was previously listed in the Crimes Act and carried a possible penalty of 10 years in prison for a woman who administered her own abortion.  The bill’s passage means that abortion is now decriminalized everywhere in Australia, apart from South Australia, where abortions are legal for some medical reasons.

Abortion was already decriminalized in Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.  On Twitter, Labor MP Penny Sharpe, co-sponsor of the bill, praised the move as a “massive step forward for women & other pregnant people” that came “not a minute too soon.”  Religious and pro-life organizations have voiced their dismay over the decision.  The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said it was a “dark day” for the state and called it “a defeat for humanity.”

“The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 may be the worst law passed in New South Wales in modern times, because it represents such a dramatic abdication of responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” he said in a statement posted on social media.  “Since the abolition of capital punishment in New South Wales in 1955, this is the only deliberate killing ever legalized in our state.”  Fisher said that although abortion is legal, the church’s “commitment to life continues.”  “Care for pregnant women, new mothers and their babies will still be available through church agencies and pro-life organizations,” he said.

“The Catholic Church, other Christian churches, people of other faiths and women and men of goodwill will continue to work together to turn our culture around, so that every vulnerable woman and baby is supported and abortion becomes unthinkable.”  Fisher thanked the members of parliament who opposed the bill, along with members of the public who prayed and spoke out against the law.  He encouraged Catholics to pray and work for pro-life leaders “so that every vulnerable woman and baby is supported and abortion is unthinkable.”  “We can still put an end to the scourge of abortion in this state by making it unnecessary, no matter what the law says,” the archbishop said.

Cherish Life Queensland Executive Director Teeshan Johnson said she grieved the passing of the bill, calling it a “gross injustice for the unborn and betrayal by the so-called conservative side of politics.”  “While the abortion lobby and its vested interests will be applauding this drastic move, the general public would be shocked if it realized what has been endorsed by a select few,” she said.  “We will be making sure everyone comes to know what those in the abortion movement have imposed upon our country over the last decade or so.  We will now start a widespread education and advertising campaign to expose this dark industry and its insidious ties.”

On Twitter, Right to Life Australia warned that the bill “unlocks floodgates to late term abortions & will increase the tide of abortions in Australia today.”  “Remember every abortion kills a baby,” the group said.  “What is happening to this nation when the most vulnerable, the most precious & the voiceless unborn are at the mercy of a vote in a Parliament?  The NSW community said a resounding no to abortion.  We will continue to fight to uphold the sanctity of human life.”  While it is unclear how many abortions are performed each year in Australia, government figures from 2005 estimated that about 80,000 women a year obtained the procedure.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Prostitution would be fully decriminalised in South Australia with no explosion in the number of suburban brothels but under a “gig economy” model similar to Uber or Airbnb, and sex workers operating legally as independent contractors without any noticeable impact on the public.  That’s the promise from advocates of sex work decriminalisation in SA. An unlikely political alliance between a Greens MP and senior Liberals including Premier Steven Marshall is building parliamentary support for the change, which is opposed most strongly by Labor leader Peter Malinauskas, and state police commissioner Grant Stevens.

If passed, just Tasmania and Western Australia would be the last states where sex work remains illegal.  The sponsor of the private member’s bill, Greens MLC Tammy Franks, said she was confident it would become law as undecided MPs saw the plan would not result in the kind of “mega brothels” found in the eastern states.  Ms Franks said new technology, cheap transport and new apps to weed out unpleasant clients meant the sex worker of 2019 was usually an independent, self-employed woman who advertised online, and travelled to private residences or hotels to work.

“The critics keep talking about brothels popping up everywhere but what we are looking at here is a model more associated with the disruptive economy where these women will be able to go about their business legally and no one will be any the wiser,” she said.  Her assessment has been backed by members of the sex industry in SA in which between 2000 and 2500 people, almost all female, work each year.  But there are only an estimated 30-35 illegal brothels in SA, with around two-thirds of workers operating independently or in small groups.

They include Anya, in her 30s, who has her own web page and Twitter profile and has been organising work via text message for her three years in the industry.  Anya said the days of the big brothel were over for most women who use the internet and social media to work in private residences or hotels.  She said women were increasingly using a database called Ugly Mugs, invented in the UK but rolled out in Australia by Sydney’s Sex Workers Outreach Project, which lets sex workers share the names, aliases and phone numbers of violent or unpleasant clients, in the same way an Uber driver can reject a passenger with a poor rating.

Anya said there were two men in Adelaide with a reputation for violence who had been dobbed in by sex workers and were being avoided.  But the fact sex work remained illegal in SA was still placing women in unnecessary danger.  “The problem is that even when we are targeted or abused we feel like the criminals.  Ms Franks and Anya said they were mindful of the murder in Sydney this year of sex worker Michaela Dunn, who was not working from a brothel, but argued an incident like that could have occurred just as easily, with less likelihood of police involvement, in a state such as SA where sex work remained criminalised.

“The reality is that a lot of jobs come with danger, there are nurses and paramedics attacked every day at work,” Anya said.  Unfortunately sex workers will always be vulnerable, but they will more vulnerable if they are treated as criminals themselves and reluctant to go to the police when something bad happens.”  Ms Franks’s bill is being co-sponsored by SA Attorney-General Vickie Chapman, who this week flagged amendments to prevent brothels opening within 200m of a church, school or childcare centre. Commissioner Stevens has warned of infiltration by criminal gangs. Mr Malinauskas agrees.  “We have come too far in tackling organised crime to take a backward step”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The “night-time economy” in NSW is to be dramatically redrawn, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian expected to fully repeal lockout laws across most of Sydney as she faces a fresh battle over her safety crackdown on music festivals.  Lockout laws and after-hours drink restrictions would be repealed in the Sydney CBD, but left in place in inner-city Kings Cross, under the recommendations of a cross-party committee released this week.  But the Premier warned that the lives of thousands of young partygoers would be put at risk this summer after the NSW upper house overturned safety measures imposed on music festivals.

One MP said it would be up to the “licensing sergeant” in the CBD to police troublesome premises but no longer would there be blanket closing times of 3am and lockouts imposed at 1.30am.  The government regulation on music festivals, introduced after several drug-related deaths last summer, required 14 festivals to adhere to a strict licensing regime that included bearing the cost of increased security and medical services.  “I am horrified by the alliance of Labor, the Shooters and the Greens who voted together to disallow the regulation governing the music festivals by 21 votes to 18” Ms Berejiklian said.

The Premier warned that the move had put “thousands of lives at risk”.  “This action will result in an immediate end to the regulations, putting thousands of lives at risk as we come into the summer music festival season,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.  “It is utterly reckless to throw out these regulations without having anything in their place as summer approaches.  “We do not want to see a repeat of what happened last summer.

“But this irresponsible action means police, paramedics, nurses and doctors will be left to pick up the pieces.”  Labor night-time economy spokesman John Graham said the opposition moved the disallowance because the licensing system was too ad hoc on certain festivals and a proper state-wide policy needed to be developed.  Only 14 festivals determined to be “high risk” were required to obtain the licence.  Each of these 14 festivals had either had a serious drug related illness or death in the past three years, or had been assessed, on the expert advice from NSW Health and NSW police, that there might be a significant risk of that occurring.

The regulations required that the organisers establish a safety management plan in consultation with the NSW Police Force and NSW Health. A statement from Ms Berejiklian’s office said:  “The NSW government will now consider options and consult with the music industry, the health sector and NSW police on what else can be done to ensure that young people stay safe over the summer period.”   Labor has alls on the music festival industry and the government to work together to implement updated rules in time for the upcoming summer festival season,” he said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

University students are being aggressively targeted by the sex industry, with so many working as prostitutes that support groups have become common on campus.  Sex-worker welfare organisations routinely set up stalls at university open days.  Cameron Cox, chief executive of the government-funded Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOT), said that prostitution was seen as an acceptable option by many university students.  He said SWOT reached out to students on campus by running workshops at orientation days and doing talks at student union meetings to make sure young people had access to support networks.

“I put myself through university by doing sex work and that was more than 40 years ago. It wasn’t uncommon then, and it’s not uncommon now,” he said.  The issue has come to light following the murder of a Sydney University woman Michaela Dunn 24, who was stabbed to death by a man who had arranged to have sex with her at a unit in Sydney’s CBD.  Police sources have confirmed Ms Dunn and a girlfriend had been running a sex service, renting a fourth-floor unit in the city’s CBD, to meet customers.  Police have revealed it was the girlfriend who discovered Ms Dunn’s body, after she went to check on her at the unit because she was not answering her phone.

The revelation Ms Dunn had been living a double life, working as a “high-end” private sex worker, compounded the horror for her family and friends.  It appears Ms Dunn first registered as a sole trader on July 19, 2016, following the advice of a popular local website for freelance sex workers.   Under the heading ‘Tips and hints, private escort world”, the site also advises freelancers to keep their private lives separate.  Many workers, it says, blurred their faces on website photos because “putting themselves out there on the internet is a risk”.

Ms Dunn’s sudden cash flow in 2017 appears to have funded her extensive overseas travel including a Contiki travel tour of Europe in 2017 and trips to Fiji and Sri Lanka last year. Her final trip, four months ago, was to the celebrity-studded Coachella music festival in California.  “High-end” escorts can command anything from $700 for an hour to $5500 for an “overnight”.  Well-known inner-Sydney brothels clearly target students in their jobs ads.  A Touch of Class describes the work as “perfect for students, earn high income while you study”.  At The Golden Apple, student recruits are even offered free airfares if they live out of town.

Jules Kim, chief executive of the Scarlett Alliance, the national peak body for sex workers, said over the past few years there had been a dramatic increase in the number of sex workers freelancing on websites rather than working for brothels, where the owner takes up to half the workers’ earnings.  “It’s gone from around 20% of the industry to 50%” Ms Kim said.  The owner of a brothel in Sydney’s inner west, who asked not to be named, said she had seen an “explosion” in the number of women working privately.  “I’d say there are about 8000 girls working in Sydney privately,” she said.  “I warn my girls against it because they don’t get the protection they do in a brothel.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Australian experts are calling for an urgent national inquiry into unproven hormone drugs being given to ever younger gender-confused children.  Their detailed submission, arguing that risks including infertility and lifelong regret outweigh the benefits, has been sent to Health Minister Greg Hunt and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.  According to The Australian, “2145 children were referred for gender treatment between 2014 and last year, with a 41% increase in Victoria.  Girls as young as nine are believed to be put on ‘puberty blocker’ drugs, and boys from about 11.”

Paediatrics Professor Whitehall, who backed the submission, asked,  “Who gave ethics approval for this treatment when it lacks any scientific basis and therefore is an experiment?”  “We should give the psychiatry and psychology a full run before we start castrating children.”  The experts are among a growing number of critics challenging the trend of putting children on blockers:  “virtually all those on blockers go on to cross-sex hormones (and sometimes surgery), meaning an irrevocable transition to a medical approximation of the opposite sex.  This makes them lifelong patients with a range of potential complications and a high risk of infertility.”

Health sociologist Geoff Holloway, who wrote the submission, says the role of culture in gender dysphoria is unmistakeable:  “People who object to what’s going on can lose their jobs, quite apart from being ostracised.  This is supposed to be a scientific endeavour, not a witch hunt.”  Developmental psychologist Dianna Kenny said, “It has been massively and irresponsibly over-diagnosed.  These children and teens are going to be irrevocably damaged by the treatment they received.”  Binary spokeswoman Kirralie Smith said “I am pleased that Australian experts are speaking finally speaking out on this issue and demanding standards that will protect our children.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The South Australian (SA) Labor Leader of the Opposition has come out against the Attorney General’s prostitution decriminalisation Bill. Mr Malinauskas is to be commended for this position which displays concern for SA’s youth.  It shows wise leadership.  We must pray that the Premier will follow suit.  Mr Malinauskas has expressed concern that outlaw gangs would be given open slather by this Bill.  He is correct.  This follows a survey the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) conducted in August which showed a complete lack of support for the Bill.

The polling showed 61% of 2,214 respondents believe that their local MP should vote against the prostitution Bill while 1 in 2 said they would be less likely to vote for a member of parliament who supported the legislation.  ACL is encouraging all Christians in South Australia to continue to ask all lower house MPs to reject the Bill and instead enact Nordic legislation which decriminalises the selling of sex, criminalises the buying of sex and pimping and brothel owning, and provides real exit strategies for those in prostitution.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

The proposed Religious Discrimination Bill is silent on the issue of whether current exemptions for religious education institutions in the Sex Discrimination Act will be repealed.  These matters are before the Australian Law Reform Council (ALRC).  Furthermore, the inquiry’s terms of reference have just been narrowed and the discussion paper delayed from this September to early 2020 and the reporting date delayed from April 2020 to December 2020, closer to the next election and leaving schools in limbo for longer.  This is highly disappointing, both for the delay and that the Bill and Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry will not be considered together.

The Bill is expected to pass through Parliament this year but the ALRC inquiry is not due to report until the end of 2020.  We do not want the Bill to be a ‘trade-off’ for losing protections being considered by the ALRC said a spokesperson for the Association of Australian Christian Schools (AACS).  If the exemptions in question are removed without rights being put in place beforehand, the ability of faith-based schools to expect employees to behave in line with their faith inside and outside of work hours would be in doubt.  One could suggest that the desire to uphold and protect the Christian ‘brand’ is not that much different from that of corporate sporting entities.

Other potential issues arising from the removal of exemptions (without other protections in place) are enrolment, uniforms, toilet facilities and camping accommodation; policies based on biological sex and the ability to resist curriculum at odds with Christian beliefs (i.e. gender theories in schools).  Both direct and ‘unreasonable’ indirect discrimination against people of faith is prohibited.  However, courts are known for narrowly defining what is necessary for religious freedom, let alone in their future deliberations on what is reasonable and what is not.

As one advocate noted, courts tend to equate freedom of religion ‘more with a “freedom to worship” rather than a broader freedom to express faith in word and action throughout the week’.  If you are a government body you are able to restrict what your employees say about faith outside of work hours.  Companies turning over LESS than $50 million per annum can restrict employee religious speech if it is deemed ’reasonable’.  Companies turning over MORE than $50 million per annum will need to show ‘unjustifiable financial hardship’ to be able to restrict employee religious speech.

This test could be potentially be enlivened via threat of boycott (or confected threat i.e. via social media). ‘Harassment’ and ‘vilification’ are also not included in this protection.  It is left open for groups to argue that not only have they been ‘offended’ or ‘insulted’, but that they have also been ‘vilified’.  The Bill explicitly overrides the far-reaching Tasmanian law that saw Archbishop Porteous in trouble when he wrote to Catholic school parents on same-sex marriage was a surprise in the Bill.  However, it only takes a statement to be deemed as harassment or vilification by a Tribunal for such a statement to not be protected at all.

The arguments that Christian teaching is harassment or vilification are common place in public discourse and it remains to be seen how they would be characterized by a Tribunal, particularly the unknown weight that would be given to theological context.  The Bill grants additional protection for conscientious objector medical professionals.  Any state-based laws allowing conscientious objection will not be able to be overridden by hospital policies or professional body requirements.  However, there is no protection if such state-based laws override conscientious objection themselves or in cases of limited service availability, in which case protections may not apply.

There are no protections for religious bodies that solely or primarily conduct commercial activities (even if not-for-profit and funds given to charitable purposes).  For example, hospitals and aged care facilities are not protected.  The protection of other charities and faith-based retreats are therefore in question.  The Human Rights Legislation Amendment (Freedom of Religion) Bill 2019 is amending the Charities Act to ensure that upholding a traditional view of marriage is not a disqualifying purpose (Ruddock recommendation #4).  Ideally it should be expanded to traditional gender, sexuality views etc., not just marriage.

Source: Association of Australian Christian Schools

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By Australian Newsletter

Coalition MPs who support the abortion bill are prepared to consider “sensible amendments” to the draft laws to ensure terminations are removed from the criminal code.  Nationals MP Trevor Khan, who is one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said it was likely that the upper house would agree to changes to the draft legislation.  “I believe the bill would have passed the upper house without amendments but we are prepared to consider sensible amendments,” Mr Khan said.  Liberal MPs Tanya Davies and Kevin Conolly have warned that they would be prepared to move to the crossbench and risk the government’s majority if the bill was not amended.

Their threats have angered some of their colleagues, who believe Mrs Davies and Mr Conolly should not be forcing their views on MPs over a conscience issue.  A group of Liberal, Labor and crossbench MPs have revealed they will move 10 amendments, including banning sex selection and tightening when terminations can be performed.  Shooters, Fishers and Farmers’ MLC Robert Borsak was joined by Liberal Matthew Mason-Cox and Labor’s Courtney Houssos and Greg Donnelly in releasing their amendments.  Other sponsors of the amendments include One Nation’s Mark Latham, Christian Democrat Fred Nile and Liberal MLC Natasha Maclaren-Jones.

Mr Borsak said he was “not against removing abortion from the Crimes Act” but he would not be prepared to support the bill in its present form.  “In my nine years as a member in this Parliament, I have never seen a more flawed and rushed process, especially in relation to an issue that deals with life and death, the result of which is what we have before us now,” Mr Borsak told MPs in an email.
The bill last month passed the lower house 59 to 31, but it created a split within the Liberals, with 19 of the party’s 35 MPs voting against it.  The majority of Nationals supported the bill.

It was expected to also pass the upper house but a lengthy debate over amendments is now likely, and if passed amended, it will need to return to the lower house.  Mr Mason-Cox described the current bill as an “abominable piece of legislation”.  The 10 amendments also include reducing the threshold for an abortion from 22-weeks to 20 unless it is “necessary to save the mother’s life or the life of another unborn child”.  There is also one to “ensure it is a crime to force or coerce a woman into having an abortion”.  Health Minister Brad Hazzard, another co-sponsor of the bill, has also been working on amendments with Mrs Davies and Mr Conolly.

One Liberal upper house MLC said they supported the bill presently, but would be prepared to support “reasonable amendments” to ensure abortion is decriminalised.  “If that’s what I need to do to get this through, then I am prepared to support amendments as long as they are sensible and reasonable,” the MLC said.  But the Liberal said there was a feeling that they were being held to ransom by Mrs Davies and Mr Conolly’s threats of defecting.  “I am very disappointed with their behaviour in all this,” the MLC said. Another Nationals upper house MP said they were “comfortable with the bill as it is but would consider reasonable amendments if that’s what it takes.”

“If there are reasonable amendments put forward I will be ok with that” the MP said.  “But I would say that some of the amendments we have seen so far are not necessarily sensible.”  Two upper house Labor MPs who support the bill in its current form also confirmed that they would consider amendments.  During a trade mission to Europe last month, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she would be comfortable with her upper house colleagues “strengthening the bill”.  Ms Berejiklian was spared from a damaging debate over abortion at her party’s recent council meeting after a majority of Liberals opposed a push to condemn the bill.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

The producers of the pro-life movie “Unplanned” have announced their film has arrived in Australia.  The filmmakers announcement on social media says “Prepare to discover the startling message of hope & healing that judges no one and touches hearts at every intersection in the #abortion debate.”  As CBN News has reported, “Unplanned” is based on the pro-life transformation of a former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director named Abby Johnson.  Her compelling true story has opened up the hearts and minds of thousands of people who have seen the movie.

Chuck Konzelman, the films’ director has revealed that nearly 100 abortion clinic workers have sought to leave their jobs after seeing the pro-life film.  The PureFlix movie has grossed almost $19 million since it was released last March.  The film had a production budget of just $6 million. The film’s makers have also released a companion devotional titled Planned from the Start: A Healing Devotional to help former workers and other women heal from the pain of abortion.  The website for the film describes the book saying it “reveals five core areas of emotional turmoil often faced following abortion and brings healing to those who are hurting.”

Previews of the movie are being organised around Australia by the Australian Christian Lobby.    You can book your ticket to one of the remaining screenings by going to their website at  Session screenings still to be held:

18 September – 7pm – ADELAIDE, SA. Hoyts Norwood.

18 September – 7pm – PERTH, WA. Hoyts Booragoon. SOLD OUT.

18 September – 7pm – WARRAWONG, NSW. Hoyts Warrawong.

22 September – 7pm – HOBART, TAS. Village Cinemas.

24 September – 7pm – NEWCASTLE, NSW. Hoyts Charlestown.

24 September – 7pm – TOWNSVILLE, QLD. Warrina Cineplex.

25 September – 7pm – LAUNCESTON, TAS. Village Cinemas.

8 October – 7pm – REDCLIFFE, QLD. Hoyts Redcliffe.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian faces mutiny, with two Liberal MPs threatening to move to the cross-bench over the abortion bill if amendments aren’t made.  Former minister Tanya Davies agreed it would be “political suicide” but “absolutely” worth it.  The move would plunge the Premier into minority government, with her hold on power assured by a wafer-thin two seats.  Former minister Tanya Davies and Riverstone MP Kevin Connolly are both willing to go to the cross-bench if the abortion bill passes without amendments.  Ms Davies told the media she had warned the Premier of her intention.

“I continue to work with the Premier and Minister for Health on essential amendments to the abortion bill, if the amendments are not adopted into the abortion bill, my conscience will drive me to sit on the cross-bench,” she said.  “This position has been communicated to the Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister Hazzard.”  Ms Berejiklian has not commented.  The heated abortion bill debate has torn apart the Liberal Party and is set to return to the upper house in a fortnight.  Ms Davies has led the charge to ensure the legislation prevents sex-selective abortions.

Ms Davies said “There’s one thing that politicians pay attention to and that’s numbers.  At the moment, our government holds government by 50 plus two.  I am one of those two and there is another colleague and together we have told the Premier and the Deputy Premier that if you do not make essential amendments to this bill we will remove ourselves from the party room, which means we will disconnect ourselves from being bound by the leadership and the direction of the Liberals and Nationals,” Ms Davies said.  “Which means the government goes into minority government.”

She was asked if this equated to “political suicide”, which she confirmed but said it was “absolutely” worth it.  Ms Davies said “I’m called to do this, so I am not concerned about my future whatsoever.  My conscience will not allow me to stand alongside people who have just trampled upon you, upon my community, in the way that they have, and particularly over such a sensitive and highly complex and delicate subject such as abortion.”  Mr Connolly said he had been put in an “untenable position” by the bill: “What has been introduced and facilitated by my own side of politics is abhorrent and something has to change.”  He said he was taking a “stand on principle”.

Senior government sources are preparing for the possibility the divisive debate could last for months.  When the legislation is taken to the committee stage in the upper house, there is no time limit on how long members speak.  One source said there was nothing to stopping anyone opposing the legislation from speaking for hours on end.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Transgender and gender-diverse people in Victoria will be able to change the sex on their birth certificate without having to undergo gender reassignment surgery, after reforms were passed in parliament.  The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill introduced by the state government passed 26-14 in the Victorian upper house and now goes to the Governor for royal assent.  The bill will remove the current requirement for transgender people to undergo sex reassignment surgery before updating their birth certificate.  They will also be free to self-nominate their sex as male, female or many other non-binary descriptors of their choice.

Children will also be able to alter the gender on their birth certificate, provided they have parental support and a statement from a doctor or registered psychologist stating that the decision is in the child’s best interests.  Victoria became the fifth state in Australia to adopt the reform, bringing it in line with Tasmania, Northern Territory, South Australia and the ACT.  The government has argued that the law that requires a trans person to have sex affirmation surgery before changing their birth certificate should be scrapped because some people cannot, or do not want to go through an expensive and invasive medical procedure.

Labor had previously sought to amend Victoria’s birth registration laws in this way.  The Andrews government narrowly failed to change the law in 2016 due to opposition from the Coalition and some crossbench MPs.  The bill was introduced a second time by Attorney-General Jill Hennessy.  “These important new laws are about ensuring everyone can live their life as they choose, and that includes having a birth certificate that reflects their true identity,” she said.  “The current surgery requirement sends a painful and false message that there is something wrong with being trans or gender diverse that needs to be ‘fixed’ , that’s why we’re removing this barrier.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Melbourne’s Catholic archbishop Peter Comensoli says his principles of reporting child abuse do not remove his responsibility to the sanctity of the seal.  He says he’ll go to jail before he breaks the seal of confession after a bill forcing religious leaders to report child abuse landed in the Victorian parliament.  Under the new laws, disclosures of abuse during religious confession will not be exempt and must be reported to police.  Under current laws, priests are exempt from mandatory requirements but the Andrews Labor government is seeking to introduce amendments to extend the criminal offence to religious leaders.

When asked, Archbishop Comensoli said: “Personally, I’ll keep the seal.”  When asked if he was prepared to go to jail he said: “I’ll say for myself, yes.”  Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the welfare of children was more important than the seal of confession.  “We promised to put the safety of children ahead of the secrecy of the confessional and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” she said.  Victorian Child Protection Minister Luke Donnellan said everyone had an obligation to report child abuse.  “These are significant reforms, and they will go a long way to ensuring future generations of children are protected from the harm that far too many suffered in the past,” he said.

 Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Australia will redirect more than half a billion dollars in foreign aid towards renewable energy projects and disaster relief throughout the Pacific, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces direct calls from leaders to “do more” to curb the threat facing the region.  Mr Morrison unveiled a $500 million climate change and oceans package at the recent Pacific Islands Forum, promising Australia will be a “champion” of the environment and ensure the Pacific remained economically stable and “sovereign politically”.  The funds will be redirected from existing aid projects, but it’s not clear which countries will lose support.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Clinicians are calling for an urgent national inquiry into the safety and ethics of giving unproven hormone drug treatment to ever younger children who are confused about sex and gender.  A detailed submission arguing that risks including infertility and lifelong regret outweigh the benefits to trans children and teenagers, has been sent to Health Minister Greg Hunt and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.  The first national figures, obtained under freedom of information legislation from major hospitals in NSW, Victoria, WA and Queensland, show 2415 children were referred for gender treatment between 2014 and last year, with a 41% increase in Victoria.

Girls as young as 9 are believed to be put on “puberty blocker” drugs, and boys from about 11.  A poorly understood surge in children and teens identifying as transgender, especially girls whose body perception can be more fraught, has arrived in the past five to 10 years.  The call for an inquiry by health sociologist Geoff Holloway, who wrote the submission, has been backed by 2019 Senior Australian of the Year paediatrician Sue Packer, Western Sydney University paediatrics professor John Whitehall and developmental psychologist Dianna Kenny.  “Who gave ethics approval for this treatment when it lacks any scientific basis and therefore is an experiment?”

Professor Whitehall said. “We should give the psychiatry and psychology a full run before we start castrating children.”  The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, whose national standards for treatment in this area have been hailed as the “most progressive” in the world, also has the biggest caseload in the country.  It champions the internationally dominant “affirmation model” in which going along with the child’s wish to transition is often seen by clinicians, with good intentions, as compassionate and necessary.  The rationale for puberty blockers, was to give the child respite from unwanted development, ease suffering and allow time to sort out identity.

Critics point out virtually all those on blockers go on to cross-sex hormones, and sometimes surgery, meaning an irrevocable transition to a medical approximation of the opposite sex.  This makes them lifelong patients with a range of potential complications and a high risk of infertility, clinicians say. Professor Whitehall said there was no rigorous long-term evidence that puberty blockers were safe and reversible for younger children, and studies in adults and sheep suggested damage to the growing human brain could not be ruled out.  The new flag the need for more research, “a comprehensive exploration” of a child’s history and fertility counselling.

Professor Whitehall said informed consent was an illusion because children and teens could not grasp the life-changing nature of the decisions, even if gender clinics gave a more accurate idea of cost-benefit balances.  Critics say still-maturing young people are immersed in a world where many parents, teachers and clinicians, are captured by emotive promotion of trans status, while activists try to suppress scepticism or inquiry as “hateful transphobia”.  Dr Holloway says the role of culture in the issue is unmistakeable. “People who object to what’s going on can lose their jobs and be ostracised.  This is supposed to be a scientific endeavour, not a witch hunt.”

In Britain, the well-known Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service has come under scrutiny, with ex-staff saying trans lobby pressure has contaminated clinical decisions.  The clinic is running “an unregulated live hormone drug experiment on children”, says Oxford University’s professor of evidence-based medicine, Carl Heneghan, who points to the scarcity, weakness and brevity of supporting studies. Critics say the trans lobby has encouraged conflation of the biological fact of birth sex with changeable gender identity.  Clinicians stress the suffering of gender-confused children is real, and requires a compassionate response.

But they also put the case for non-intrusive therapy to bring distorted gender ideas into line with the reality of biological sex, rather than a risky medical reinvention of the body.  Dr Kenny said she believed gender dysphoria was in part “a social construct, propagated through the processes of groupthink and social contagion”.  Sceptical clinicians say the affirmation model too readily puts children on a path to medical intervention when evidence suggests the vast majority of those with early “gender dysphoria” will grow out of it, many emerging as gay or bisexual.

The rush to puberty blockers disrupts this self-correcting process and often involves only a cursory examination of mental health issues, family trauma, autism and other factors that may predate the gender dysphoria, it’s argued.  “Far be it from anybody to say that there are absolutely no people in the world who are genuinely gender dysphoric and who find it impossible to live in their biological sex,” said Dr Kenny, a clinician who until recently was a psychology professor at Sydney University.  “What I’m saying is it’s been massively and irresponsibly over-diagnosed and these children and teens are going to be irrevocably damaged by the treatment they received.”

In June last year, paediatrician Michelle Telfer, director of the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service in Melbourne, said starting medical intervention as young as 13 or 14 was “not at all controversial within those with expertise”.  “The consequence of not treating are known to be severe in terms of depression, self-harm, suicide,” she said.  Sceptics say the suicide risk linked to gender dysphoria itself has been exaggerated, while evidence showing high suicide risk in adults who undergo full medical transition has been downplayed.  Dean, 28, from Sydney, is among those who come to regret going trans.

After 10 years as “Andrea”, dangerous encounters with men and the “self-torture” of hair removal and body sculpting, he began to think “this is not natural”.  He believes it’s wrong for parents and teachers to automatically “support” a young person’s wish to go trans.  “I have younger siblings, and they’re being taught about trans in school.  Their minds are still developing: what if they grow up and want to have children naturally but their bodies have been changed?  “Raised in a loving, religious family, Dean was conscious of early same-sex attraction.  “Me being trans, it was like a thing for me to escape being homosexual; it seemed more acceptable for me to be a woman.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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