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Wednesday, 12 February 1986
Page: 177

Senator ELSTOB —Does the Minister representing the Attorney-General agree that an identity problem similar to that being experienced by children of adoptive parents could well arise with artificially conceived children using donor materials? Can the Minister guarantee that, if such a problem arose, sufficient information about the donor parents would have been recorded?

Senator GARETH EVANS —It seems quite reasonable to assume that children born as a result of the use of donor sperm will, like adopted children, want to know about their origins, including, in some cases, identifying information about a biological parent. The report of the Family Law Council on reproductive technology, which was tabled by the Attorney-General last August, firmly puts the view that these children are in an analogous position to that of adopted children. The Council considers that the lessons learnt in the adoption area about the importance of honesty in family relationships for the healthy development of children should be heeded.

Recommendation No. 9 of the Family Law Council report recommends, I am told, that, in recognition of the importance of access to knowledge and information of genealogical origins, legislation and practice should provide for access to such information by the child or adult, that such information be of a non- identifying nature prior to the child reaching 18 years of age and that identifying information be available for adults over 18 years of age. The Attorney-General has before him this and other related recommendations put forward by the Council and will no doubt be responding in due course.

As to the latter part of the question, the Attorney advises me that the Commonwealth is not in a position to guarantee that sufficient information about a child's genetic origins will be available if required at a later date, because it does not have the legislative power to do so. I should finally mention that the Government is considering the recent report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on in vitro fertilisation and the status of children. That recommends, among other things, that pending possible establishment of a national advisory body, as recommended by the Family Law Council, the question of record keeping and access to information relating to donors should be considered by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General.