1309. Hon Alison Xamon to the parliamentary secretary representing the Minister for Health:

I refer to the practice of performing surgeries on intersex infants and young people, and I ask:

(a)  since 2008, how many Western Australian intersex infants have undergone surgeries to alter their anatomy or physiology, including “corrective” surgeries which aim to make their genitalia resemble that of children assigned male and children assigned female each year;

(b)  does Western Australia Health have clinical protocols in place to guide decision making in the care of infants, children and adolescents with intersex conditions that are informed by the principle of maintaining the human rights of these children and young people;

(c)  if no to (b), will the Minister commit to ensuring these protocols are developed; and

d)  if yes to (c), please table the protocols?

Hon Alanna Clohesy replied:

I am advised that:

(a)  The number of surgeries undertaken on intersex infants since 2008 is 15. A breakdown of individual years and figures is not provided as numbers less than 5 are suppressed for confidentiality reasons.

(b)  No. Each individual case is managed through a multi-disciplinary team, in line with world’s best practice. The multi-disciplinary team consists of specialist surgeons, endocrinologists, ethicists, psychologists and social workers. This team works with the family to assess surgical, psychological, psychosocial, cultural and ethical dimensions associated with each individual. When further information is required by the family prior to making any decision on surgery, second opinions nationally are sought primarily from The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne who use an equivalent approach to assessing suitability for surgery. In line with current opinion, many surgical cases are delayed or do not occur therefore Perth Children’s Hospital only completes, on average, one or two cases per year.

(c)  A specific clinical protocol would be detrimental as it would not reflect the uniqueness of each individual person and their needs. The Perth Children’s Hospital mirrors best practice nationally and internationally.

(d)  Not applicable.


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