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Minister for Defence addresses transgender health care in the Australian Defence Force

2017 10 17 Senate

Minister for Defence, Senator The Hon Marise Payne, answered questions about transgender health care in the Australian Defence Force during question time on Monday.

Here is what she said:

I thank Senator Hanson for her question.

Let me be very clear: the Defence Force regulations mandate that Defence provide necessary health care to all Defence members. Defence Force members are not individually covered by Medicare.

What Defence provides is comprehensive health care that is clinically necessary for the management of health conditions, illnesses and injuries.

Gender dysphoria, in that context, is managed in accordance with current best-practice clinical guidelines under the same principles as any other health condition. So, if a member of the ADF is diagnosed with or treated for gender dysphoria, Defence will fund the medical procedures or support as prescribed by the treating doctor.

Cosmetic or elective surgeries are not funded. This occurs in the same way that this treatment or support would be available under Medicare for civilian members of the community.

I thank Senator Hanson for her question. I think it's invidious to try and distinguish between one health condition and one personal health circumstance over another.

In no way does Defence's engagement in relation to gender dysphoria diminish or lessen Defence's commitment—and, for that matter, the Department of Veterans' Affairs' commitment—to the strongest possible support for returned servicemen and servicewomen and those who continue to serve those who are veterans.

I will also address the focus of Senator Hanson's question in relation to funding. Senator Hanson referred to it being just over $1 million. Let me put that in context. The 2015-16 total expenditure on ADF health was $430 million, as published on page 21 of the Defence annual report 2015-16, volume 2.

As I said in my previous remarks, gender dysphoria, and the condition that is gender dysphoria, is managed in accordance with current best practice and clinical guidelines under the same principles as any other health condition.

If a member is diagnosed by a medical practitioner and treated for gender dysphoria, then Defence will fund the medical procedures or support, as prescribed by the treating doctor. This is not a case of treatment by cosmetic or elective procedures and surgeries; this is as diagnosed and as treated by a medical practitioner for medical procedures that are required to treat the condition of gender dysphoria.

I think it's very important to acknowledge the complexity that attaches to these particular conditions. They are treated seriously by Defence, they are dealt with seriously by Defence, and they are dealt with according to best practice clinical guidelines, as directed by medical practitioners.

Image by Commonwealth of Australia

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