The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (ART Act) outlines conditions for access to information held in the Central and Voluntary registers. This includes outlining who can apply for access to information held in the registers and what information may be released to applicants.
You are eligible to apply for access to information held on the Central Register if you are:
- a donor conceived person
- a parent of a donor conceived person
- a descendant of a donor conceived person
- a donor.
In Victoria all current clinic-recruited sperm donors are ‘identity release’, meaning that once the child born from the donation turns 18, the child will have an automatic access to identifying information about the donor. Your child has the right to apply before 18, but must have your permission or that of a counsellor (see above). You, as the parent may also apply for information, as may the donor, but the person who that information relates to must give their written permission before the information is released. All parties may apply for non-identifying information at any time.
Prior to the commencement of the ART Act on 1 January 1 2010, many lesbian couples and single women had accessed reproductive services interstate to conceive their children. All states and territories have different regulations governing the right to apply to information; contact your interstate clinic for details, as well as Births Deaths and Marriages, to discuss your situation.
For children born from donations made in Victoria between 1988 and 1998, and before 1988, access to information is more complex. Please see the Births Deaths and Marriages website for more information.
The same kinds of people who can apply for information from the Central Register can apply for information from the Voluntary Register, along with relatives of a donor-conceived person (such as half-biological siblings).
Information is only released if it is available (that is, if it has been lodged by the relevant person), and the person it concerns has consented to its release to you.
Why people apply for information
VARTA publishes resources and information sheets designed to assist donors and donor-conceived people and their families. We recommend you read both the Time to Tell? and the Time to Apply? brochures.
The reason behind why donor registers are useful can best be summed up in the introduction to the Time to apply? brochure:
‘For many years, donor practice throughout the world was dominated by the belief that secrecy was paramount to protect all parties to the arrangement – donors, parents and the person born. This belief was based on myths: that donors would not want to be contacted and that people conceived from them would not want information about their donors if they really loved their parents.’
‘It is now understood that it is very normal for donor-conceived people to want to know more about their donors. They are often interested to learn more about their medical history, cultural background, personality and appearance.
Donors do not forget they have donated and often wonder about the people they helped to create. Who are they? Are they healthy? Are they happy? Are they loved? Parents may also want more information about the person who helped create their child. They may wish to thank them for helping them to become a family and may wonder what they are like and what characteristics their child has inherited from them.’
BDM staff can tell you what is involved with making an application for release of information from the donor registers. Counselling is offered through BDM for anyone making an application to the donor registers. Counselling is mandatory if the person is seeking identifying information about another party.
In addition, VARTA lists counsellors who may assist a person to think through the issues in considering whether and when to apply for the release of information from the donor registers, see the section ‘Find out more about’ for details.