FOR the first time ever Australia’s leading advocacy group for people with intersex traits will have paid staff helping to progress the needs of intersex people in the country.

Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII Australia) have announced on December 1 its two co-convenors Tony Briffa and Morgan Carpenter will become joint executive directors.
OII had been functioning entirely through the work of volunteers since its inception and the appointment of the executive directors will mark the first time an organisation dedicated to the lives of intersex people will have paid staff at the helm.
Briffa and  Carpenter will be contracted part time and the duo have a lot of work ahead of them especially around education and awareness raising about the realities of the lives of people born with intersex variations, diversity, the common health and human rights issues they face.
“At the same time, we need to see movement to tackle the issues raised by the Senate inquiry on involuntary or coerced sterilisation – and those issues are now also the subject of a current inquiry by the Australian Human Rights Commission,” he said.
“I feel a sense of honour and privilege (on becoming ED), and also a sense of relief. It’s so wonderful to work alongside Tony Briffa. We’ve had a lot of practice, and now we’re better resourced. It’s exciting.

“So far, everything that we’ve done has been volunteer-run. There’s a lot of power in that, as shows the level of commitment and persistence that our volunteers have had, but it’s also so difficult to sustain alongside other commitments.

“This appointment will help us to develop our systemic advocacy work in a more structured and strategic way, and help us to promote the development of services for people born with intersex variations.”

The move to fund the executive director roles is of great significance as globally organisations working for people with intersex traits receive very little funding. In 2016, only $200,000 in grant funding was awarded across 32 organisations in 27 countries.

“People often think intersex people are just invisible, we’re not part of round table discussions, or at the table at all,” Carpenter said.

“A big part of that is poverty, and lack of resourcing to get us around the table. now we’re here. I hope people will see more of us, and begin to understand our issues better.”

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