Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 881 ..
Stronger and clearer guidelines and regulations can help to strengthen the system and ensure that we can avoid any unintended consequences that can impact the lives of people in varying ways. My hope is that those conceived through these technologies will be allowed to know their full identity. Identity is a broad concept and very important to human flourishing. It is a matter that is very well understood in the area of adoption and fostering. Who your biological parents and siblings are is not merely a matter of medical knowledge, although it is, importantly, a matter of medical knowledge; it is also of importance to culture, behavioural tendencies and understanding what kinds of people are in your history—your tribe, so to speak.
The motion also suggests a review of support services. It is a really good idea. Fertility difficulties can cause people great distress and the processes that they go through in such treatments can also be a great roller-coaster ride. We need to ensure that appropriate support is provided. Fertility treatment is intense. As I said, people deserve appropriate care. There is profit being made in the businesses that provide these services, and the needs of individuals need always to be at the centre of these services.
Reviewing and considering an appropriate ART set of regulations is a positive idea, and looking interstate is a good way to commence the process. The impact of mitochondrial donation law is something that we should certainly be across as a jurisdiction, given that it is a highly likely possibility that it will be allowed through the federal parliament soon. There are questions worth reviewing on access to these services so that they are not inequitable based on socio-economic backgrounds. Therefore, I support the intent of this motion and consider it a timely and useful area to pursue. I thank Dr Paterson for bringing it to the chamber.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (4.37): I also want to thank Dr Paterson for bringing this motion to the Assembly in relation to a service that is so important and can be, as Dr Paterson rightly outlined, some of the most stressful but also some of the most exciting moments for people in their lives.
As has been outlined by other speakers, artificial reproductive technology—ART—is a brilliant technological advance that has assisted many Canberrans and families to conceive children when, without medical intervention, they may otherwise have been unable to do so. As others have said, ART covers a range of different processes and methods to increase or preserve fertility.
In the ACT ART is available through private health service providers. While some costs are covered through Medicare rebates or private health insurance, I acknowledge that there are still significant out-of-pocket costs associated with accessing ART. I also acknowledge Mr Davis’s point that decisions that are made about whether Medicare rebates are accessible or otherwise are not always necessarily made on the basis of health-based evidence but can be a matter of judgement. That is indeed something that we should look into.