Female genital mutilation/ cutting in Australia

What is FGM/C?

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the term female gential mutilation/ cutting (FGM/C) refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM/C is a harmful practice and a violation of human rights of affected women and girls. In 1997, the WHO issued a joint statement with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) against the practice of FGM/C.

Also known as 'female circumcision' or 'female genital cutting', FGM/C is deeply entrenched in cultural and societal meanings and beliefs. FGM/C is considered a normal and necessary aspect of raising a girl properly in preparation for adulthood and marriage in many cultures.

Is FGM/C legal?

In Australia, it is illegal to practise FGM/C. New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory have legislated against the practice of FGM/C and it exists in the Criminal Codes of Western Australia and Tasmania. There is no federal legislation regarding FGM/C.

FGM/C in Australia

Over the past decades, through migration and refugee flight, women and girls who have been subjected to FGM/C have resettled in western countries, including Australia.

In 2011, there were 109,000 people living in Australia who were born in countries that practise FGM/C (ABS 2011). It is difficult to know the precise number of women and girls in Australia who are affected by FGM/C. It is important that national, state and territory health and community service providers and planners are aware of FGM/C in order to care for the special needs of women and girls affected by FGM/C.



Two new Australian female genital mutilation/cutting resources for health and community service providers, planners, academics and governments are now available  

Family Planning Victoria has published two national FGM/C resources that aim to improve the capacity of health care providers and community service providers to meet the health needs of women and girls affected by FGM/C:

This guide has been developed to support health and community service providers who work with women and girls affected by FGM/C. It provides  the information needed to talk with women and girls about FGM/C and its impact on their health and wellbeing. 

This national resource comprises of four parts, including an introduction to FGM/C, a literature review, an overview of prevention programs and Australian demographic data by state and territory.

This is a useful resource for educators, academics, health professionals, policy makers and agency staff who work with communities from practising countries. Through this report, we have endeavoured to provide valuable data and analyses for the development of services and policies to benefit communities settling in Australia.

Family Planning Victoria
T/ 03  9257 0100