New laws enable persons born before 1988 from donor treatment procedures access to information about their donors.

The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Amendment Act 2014 was passed by the Victorian Parliament on 21 August 2014.

The amendments once operative (by 29 June 2015) will enable a person born before 1988 from a donor treatment procedure to request information about their donor including their medical history. Identifying information about a person may only be disclosed with that person’s consent. A descendant of a person born from donor treatment procedure before 1988 will also have access to information on the same terms.

The reforms are significant in that they provide persons born before 1988 from donor treatment procedures to access information about their donors, for whom previously there was no legal right to access information as these treatment procedures were carried out before State regulation in this area commenced on 1 July 1988 requiring the centralised storage of information relating to donor treatment procedures.

The effect of the amendments are that persons born before 1988 from donor treatment procedures who previously had no legal right to access information will now, as far as possible, have the same rights to access information from a Central Register maintained by the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages as persons born from treatment procedures carried out between 1 July 1988 and 31 December 1997. That is they may receive identifying information about their donor if their donor consents to its release.

The amendments also enable a person born from a donor treatment procedure or their parent to access information about their donor-siblings – that is other persons conceived through donor treatment procedures from gametes of the same donor. The release of a limited amount of information about donor siblings is intended to ensure that a donor-conceived person does not unknowingly forming a romantic relationship with a half-sibling.

Registered Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) providers who hold records relating to pre-1988 donor treatment procedures will be required to keep a register of prescribed information from those records. ART providers will be required to provide this information to the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages to update the Central Register that she maintains. In addition any retired doctors or their relatives who possess records relating to pre-1988 donor treatment procedures will be required to provide those records or a copy of those records to the Registrar also. This ensures that the Central Register includes all relevant information for donor treatment procedures conducted before 1988 regardless of who holds those records.  

ART providers will be authorised to disclose non-identifying medical information about a donor or adult donor-sibling to a person born as a result of donor treatment where the disclosure is necessary to save a person’s life or to warn the person to whom the information is to be disclosed about the existence of a genetic or hereditary condition that may be harmful to that person or their descendants.

The role of the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority will be extended to provide counselling and donor linking services to applicants seeking information from the Central Register. 

The donor linking service will be based on voluntary participation and each party participating in the service will only be involved to the extent that they consent to be involved. For example, a person may only want non-identifying information about their donor but does not wish for identifying information or contact with their donor. It is envisaged that if the donor refuses to consent to the disclosure of their identifying information they may choose to use the donor linking services provided by VARTA to exchange non-identifying information with the person born as a result of the donor treatment procedure.