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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2932..


MR WOOD (continuing):

Workshop with Government Solicitor's Office arranged for senior members to reduce concerns about Inquiry and Coronial processes. Ongoing support for individuals being provided.

Two Focus Groups run to-date, another planned, to identify issues still affecting members, needing resolution to ensure a healthy workforce.

Material Losses

All claims made by volunteers in relation to losses sustained in January, have now been settled, to their satisfaction.

Organisational Preparedness:

Volunteer Support Officer appointed 2001

Members trained in CISM and Peer Support to provide education and support within Brigades.

CISM awareness for managers raised at pre-season ICS training.

Genetic information

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR SPEAKER: I have received a letter from Mrs Cross proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

Protection from discrimination resulting from the misuse of genetic information.

MRS CROSS (3.21): I rise today to encourage the Assembly to consider and be aware of the important issues surrounding genetic information and its use or misuse in our society. A person's genetic information is the blueprint of their very being. The general community has a right to be protected against the unscrupulous use of information procured through genetic technology, and we as legislators have a responsibility to make sure that this protection is in place. It would be nice if health ministers remained in the chamber on this one.

Genetic information can be used to give an indication of a predisposition to certain illnesses a person may be susceptible to in the future. It can give an indication of the susceptibility of an individual to particular conditions. It can be used to determine the parentage of individuals for use in disputed custody situations.

It is absolutely essential, in this time of amazing scientific advances and discovery, that this information be used for the purpose of preventing, treating and healing diseases, not as a basis for discrimination. There is also the forensic use of genetic information, which is very important and has shown its worth over the past few years, determining the true culprit in some criminal cases. It has been used to great advantage in some cases for prisoners on death row in the United States of America.

With the great improvement in forensic science and the use of DNA as an important tool in this area, I am concerned that as yet there is little, if any, protection for individuals. Members of the community have indicated to me that they are worried about providing DNA samples for testing with respect to possible inherited diseases. One worry is that genetic information can reveal personal information about family members. It must be protected from being used indiscriminately without the permission or knowledge of those people. Genetic privacy needs to be assured.


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