Rights & Recognition of LGBTQI Families
Recognition of LGBTQI Families & Carers
Under Federal Reforms in 2008, all same-sex de facto couples now share the same rights and entitlements as opposite-sex de facto relationships (Department of Social Services, 2016). As a same-sex family in NSW, you can expect to be treated equally under Australian law (Redfern Legal Centre, 2009).
Non-traditional families and carers have the right to claim financial benefits such as:
- Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
- Carer Allowance
- Carer Payment
While same-sex families are generally treated equally under Australian laws, commercial surrogacy remains illegal, and most of the legislation concerning family law is based on a two-parent model where only two people can be recognised as legal parents of a child (Redfern Legal Centre, 2009). This becomes problematic for families that have more than two parental figures wishing to receive equal parental rights (e.g. two women in a de facto relationship use a known donor who may already have a partner, and all parties wish to share parental rights). Even though there can only be two legal parents, Family Court can award Shared Parental Responsibility (Family Law Act, s 65C) to another person who is not a legal parent, but who has responsibilities and makes decisions for the child (Redfern Legal Centre, 2009).
Access to Mental Health Information
When it comes to providing or withholding consent to treatment by doctors, same-sex de facto partners are identifiable as a ‘person responsible’ to make decisions under the Guardianship Act (Carers NSW).
Under Section 71 of the Mental Health Act, a person with a ‘close personal relationship’ to a patient can be recognised as a ‘Designated Carer’ and/or ‘Principal Care Provider’ (PCP), just like a traditional family member. As such they are authorised to be consulted on information relating to subsequent treatment, and any discharge planning or other support considered in relation to the person (s 79).
If the Designated Carer/PCP wishes to access patient health information not related to mental health or the discharge planning process, and the patient lack’s capacity to consent to the disclosure, they must complete a request for personal (non-mental health) health information in accordance with the Health Records and Information Privacy Act. For further information refer to Section 1.4 of the NSW Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) Handbook.
The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013 introduced three separate grounds for protection from discrimination. These are: sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. In addition within the Bill, the definition of ‘marital status’ was changed to ‘marital or relationship status’ to include same-sex de facto relationships.
While legislation still excludes religious bodies, it no longer applies to religious organisations in connection with the provision of Commonwealth-funded aged care services. It is now illegal to refuse service into Commonwealth funded aged-care services on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. While it is legal for same-sex couples to adopt in NSW, faith-based adoption organisations are exempt from discrimination laws and are thus permitted to exclude same-sex couples from adoption processes. Barnardos support same-sex adoption and inclusion in foster care programs (Redfern Legal Centre, 2009).
If you experience discrimination on the basis of any of the grounds listed above, we encourage you to lodge a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW.
Click here to view the latest posts on our website for LGBTQI Carers.
Useful Resources & Services
Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW
Twenty10 incorporating the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of NSW (GLCS NSW) provides a range of support services and social spaces for people of diverse genders, sexualities and sexes in NSW. Services are aimed specifically at people under 26 years old.
- Weekday support Metro: 02 8594 9555 (9:30am-5pm weekdays)
- Weekday Regional support free call: 1800 65 2010 (9:30am-5:00pm weekdays)
- Evening support free call: 1800 184 527 (5:30pm-10:30pm every night of the year)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gender Centre
The Gender Centre provides information and support to trans* and gender diverse people in NSW.
- 9 am – midday and 1pm– 4:30 pm, Monday – Friday
- Phone: (02) 9569 2366
- Regional NSW: 1800 069 115
- Email: email@example.com
Do you care for someone with a diverse gender identity? View this resource for families and friends produced by The Gender Centre on tips for supporting someone with a diverse gender identity:
QLife is Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex (LGBTI). QLife provides nation-wide, early intervention, peer supported telephone and web based services to people of all ages across the full breadth of people’s bodies, genders, relationships, sexualities, and lived experiences.
QLife will enable our communities to work towards our own better health outcomes by providing a place to talk about mental health, relationships, isolation, coming out and a whole host of other concerns. We bring together and enhance the work of our five state-based partner agencies, based in capital cities across Australia.
3:00pm to midnight in your state, around Australia, every day.
Transcend is the first parent led peer support network and information hub for transgender children and their families in Australia.
Click here to access a list of services, psychologists, psychiatrists that work with transgender children and their families in NSW.
Click here to access a legal toolkit for parents of transgender children.
The AIDS Council of NSW is one of Australia’s largest LGBTI sexual health and wellbeing organisations, with a variety of services on offer, including free rapid HIV testing clinics, counselling, resources, substance support, and more. Click here to learn about the services their Care Coordination Team provide.
- Office Hours:
- Tel: 02 9206 2000
- Freecall: 1800 063 060
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inner City Legal Centre
Provides free legal services to Sydney’s LGBTI community.
- Toll free: 1800 244 481
Rainbow Recovery Club
Provides a safe meeting place, primarily for LGBT people, in a 12 step programs for recovery from alcoholism, drug and other addictions.
Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII Australia)
OII Australia is an independent support, education and policy development organisation, by and for people with intersex variations or traits. Our work focuses on human rights, bodily autonomy and self-determination, and on evidence-based, patient-directed healthcare.
beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
- 1300 22 4636
Carers NSW work with carers to improve their health, wellbeing, resilience and financial security.
- Freecall: 1800 242 636
- For carers wanting emergency respite call 1800 052 222
MindOUT is an initiative of the National LGBTI Health Alliance. MindOUT develops and delivers national suicide prevention initiatives aimed at building the capacity of the mental health and suicide prevention sectors to meet the support and wellbeing needs of LGBTI populations, thereby improving the mental health outcomes and reducing suicide and suicidal behavior amongst LGBTI people and communities. Mental Health Carers NSW are a member of the MindOUT project and actively work to ensure our organisation is inclusive and responsive to the needs of LGBTI mental health carers. We are also registered as a Safe Place for the LGBTQI community with ACON’s Safe Place Program.