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Disability and Community Development – LGBTI Wellbeing

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Tags: Mental Health, LGBTI

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, you have responsibility for the wellbeing for LGBTI people in your Community Development portfolio. You would know from your past work in Lifeline that mental health is a very critical issue for LGBTI Tasmanians. You would probably be aware - and these figures are all for over-18-year-olds that 57 per cent of transgender and gender-diverse people are diagnosed with depression in their lifetime, 53 per cent have self-harmed in their lifetime.

They are six-and-a-half times more likely to self-harm and 35 per cent of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetime; and 41 thought of suicide or self-harm in the last two weeks. These are really staggering statistics. They are very concerning and it's pretty clear that transphobic statements add to the additional burden, that mental health burden that transgender and LGBTI Tasmanians already bear.

What is your response to the fact that Senator Claire Chandler repeatedly and unapologetically continues to make so-called TERF comments about "real women"? Do you think they're appropriate?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I believe we all should be very mindful of the language that we use and I do my absolute best to ensure that the language that I use in no way offends any Tasmanian. Tasmania has come a long way since the dark days of the 1990s when there was a lot of debate and discussion about law reform.

I stand to be corrected on the date, but I believe I attended the 30th anniversary of a very hateful rally in Ulverstone to coincide with that particular debate leading to reform in the minority Rundle government, if my memory serves me correctly, and that first tranche of reforms. There have been others - the Relationship Act in around 2003 04 and Marriage Equality nationally.

We have come a long way and so we should. I'm not going to get drawn into others but I take my role in this area extremely seriously and I'm engaged in - well, also with my Education hat on, the work that Working It Out do, is tremendous. I have a lot of support for what they do within our school system. A former mayor of Devonport, Mary Binks, was instrumental in establishing Working It Out and one of the founding members, as I understand it. I stand to be corrected on that, but I am very proud of her achievements, particularly as it was born to the north-west coast, which got some very alarming and disturbing negative publicity through those dark days of that debate.

We have come a long way and I pay tribute to all the people who have worked so hard, including Mr Rodney Croome, of whom I am a great admirer. I engage with Rodney on a reasonably regular basis and there has been a lot of pain associated with those debates and we probably have a way to go.


Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, Senator Claire Chandler has called for Sports Australia to remove what she calls 'dangerous and unfair inclusion guidelines'. Do you condemn that call?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Guidelines are guidelines, and I support the guidelines.

Dr WOODRUFF - So you don't support that language. It is clear that comments like that can severely a community's understanding about people and affect people's mental health, so that's very good to hear.

Mr ROCKLIFF - We all need to be mindful of our language. I'm not going to speak for anyone else but myself when it comes to these matters. I take my responsibility in this portfolio very seriously indeed. I have some information not pertaining to that particularly, but more broadly around LGBTI and of course the survey.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, do you acknowledge that the wellbeing and mental health of trans Tasmanians are better because their identity can now be reflected on their official documents?


Dr WOODRUFF - Good, and how did you vote at the Liberal -

CHAIR - I'll give the call to Ms Butler.


Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, the Liberal State Council this year included a range of motions. Motion 15 was from the Lower Sandy Bay branch. It read -

The state law Justice and Related Legislation (Marriage and Gender Amendments) Act 2019 requiring optional statement of gender on birth certificates is repealed.

How did you vote on that motion? We know it passed. Did you vote against it?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I remember the discussion, Dr Woodruff. It is a matter for the Liberal Party membership to bring these matters forward. You are a member of a party and might not always agree with all your members' views on matters. I am sure others opposite would be the same. I'm not going to involve my discussions today around Liberal Party organisational policy of the membership of the party. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we disagree but I'm very supportive of all I can do as the Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing and the minister responsible for various areas as minister for Community Development and Disability to support all Tasmanians in a very inclusive environment.

Dr WOODRUFF - And mental health.

CHAIR - We're also here, Dr Woodruff, to scrutinise the Budget.

Dr WOODRUFF - Excuse me.

CHAIR - Is there a budget line item you would like to discuss?

Dr WOODRUFF - Yes, there is and it relates to the health of LGBTI people. Minister, will you be lobbying to leave that important law as it is?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I'm not going to speak on behalf of the whole government -

Dr WOODRUFF - No, I'm just asking you, as minister. I accept that.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I play a role within a team and I've been a passionate advocate for marginalised Tasmanians, people with disability, LGBTIQ+ and my advocacy will continue in various forms.

Dr WOODRUFF - Continue how? You understand how important that law is.