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Intimacy is a basic human right!

Statement from Melba’s Chief of Human Rights & Practice Innovation, Kerrie White, in response to NDIS Minister Bill Shorten saying he intended to change the rules about NDIS funding for intimacy supports for people with disability.

As a human rights-based organisation, we find NDIS Minister Bill Shorten’s comments regarding funding for support to access to intimacy services extremely concerning.

We all have the basic human right to experience intimate relationships. Intimacy doesn’t look the same and follow the same pathway for all of us.

Recognising the significant impact of intimacy on mental well-being, Melba advocates for tailored intimacy services that provide emotional support and education to improve self-esteem and overall quality of life, especially for those dealing with isolation and mental health challenges.


Ensuring that individuals with disability have the freedom to determine their support needs is essential in promoting equality and combating discrimination. Melba remains committed to upholding human rights and empowering individuals to live without bias or inequality.

Intimacy and sexuality are an intrinsic part of human existence, contributing to emotional, psychological and physical well-being. We wholeheartedly believe people should be supported to access all services that are appropriate to them.

We know that people with disability often face higher rates of isolation, depression and anxiety. Intimacy services can provide not only physical intimacy, but also education and emotional support, significantly boosting self-esteem and overall mental health. Intimacy services may be provided by a range of people including, but not limited to, sexologists, sex therapists and sex workers.

Improved mental health leads to better engagement in other life areas, such as employment, education, and community activities, demonstrating the far-reaching benefits of this support.

The NDIS is founded on principles of choice and control, designed to empower people to make decisions about their own lives. Limiting people’s access to intimate relationships undermines this autonomy, imposing arbitrary moral judgments on individuals' personal choices.

It is essential to respect the rights of people with disability to determine their own needs and how best to meet them. Denying these rights perpetuates discrimination and inequality.

At Melba, our commitment to human rights underpins everything we do. We support people to live the life they choose, in ways that champion their individual journeys.

We must respect the autonomy of people with disability and recognise that intimacy plays critical role in a person’s mental and emotional health. Supporting the development and maintenance of intimate relationships is essential and aligns with international best practices.

Equally disappointing and of grave concern is the continued negative media exposure and response to the denial of the human rights of people with disability.

It is time to move beyond outdated stigmas and embrace a truly inclusive approach to disability support. Denying this funding is denying dignity, autonomy and essential care to those who need it most.


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