Proposed regulation of QLD IVF clinics on the way

Proposed regulation of QLD IVF clinics on the way

In this video, Accredited Family Law Specialist and Multi-Award Winning Surrogacy Lawyer, Stephen Page discusses the new surrogacy changes happening in Queensland.

 

Transcript

G’day, I’m Stephen from Page Provan, Family and Fertility Lawyers, and I’m talking about the current changes that are going to happen in Queensland, and to put it in context, this video was recorded in early March 2024.

What’s proposed to change in Queensland is that the Queensland government announced late, and we’re talking about November 2023, that before the next election, there would be a law regulating IVF clinics in Queensland.

Currently, IVF Clinics in Queensland, like they are in the rest of Australia, must have a licence from the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand. Now, I’m a Director of the Society. But this is under federal law and matching state and ACT law.

So there’s a specific Queensland Act that says on top of the Commonwealth Act, that if you operate an IVF clinic in Queensland, you must have this accreditation from a Fertility Society. But on top of that, the Queensland government said, okay well, we’re very concerned about IVF clinics in Queensland because of historical problems prior to 2004.

So as a result of which, we’re carrying out the Office of Health Ombudsman inquiry, and we’re going to have a law in place. So the Office of Health Ombudsman was referred in November by the Minister of Health, Shannon Fentiman, to carry out an inquiry about IVF clinics in Queensland, and for some reason sat on it for seven weeks.

Finally issuing a notice to provide information by Queens and IVF Clinics on the 22nd of December, the last work day of the year, demanding the documents be produced within 14 days when everything was shut.

I don’t know why they sat on it for seven weeks, but they could have done it well and truly in November and given the clinics more time. But instead, they decided, well, we’re going to do it the last possible moment and embarrass clinics and put them under extra pressure.

Well, that’s certainly an interpretation that could be drawn from it. At the same time, they’re working it hand in hand with this proposed bill, and so who’s running the drafting of this bill? Is there a community consultation process?

Well, I’m glad you asked, because nominal, nominal. What do we have? We have a head fixer who is a policy officer running it and under that, there are two doctors who are obstetricians and gynaecologists at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Are they IVF doctors in private practise? No. Is there anyone from the IVF industry who actually knows how the industry works as part of this process? No. Hasn’t there been community consultation to ensure that this proposal is able to be considered?

Yes, nominal. Why do I say nominal? The time frames have been extraordinarily short. It’s really a case, I think, of going through the motions rather than going through the substance.

Why? Because notice was sent out on the Monday that submissions had to be put in by Sunday week, not even two weeks. In effect, a week and a half to put in submissions. I received a slight extension because I had other commitments, so I’m grateful for that.

But that slight extension was only till the Friday of the following week. So a very, very short time. It’s early days, I don’t know what form this bill will take, but it’s clear that the Queensland government is committed to having a bill to regulate IVF industry in Queensland.

What’s not covered? Well, the government identified in 2022, 2023, that there should be laws about donor-conceived individuals so that there is a donor registry in Queensland. Well, that’s been on the drawing board.

Have we seen the bill? No. Is that bill likely to happen before the next election? No. Who’s in charge of that bill now? Well, the attorney general, Yvette D’Ath. She signalled that she will be retiring at the next election.

In the meantime, because her ex has been charged with criminal charges, she stood down as attorney general. So is there any priority with that? No. Similarly, there’s not going to be a review of surrogacy.

There’s not going to be a review of research or other related topics, and the number one pressing issue that I see is regulation of private donations, that there ought to be something. Because part of the concern in the review is, well, how many donations should there be?

What cap should there be? Should it be five, or should it be 10, should it be named as women, or should be named as families, and instead, what do we see about private donations? Well, we know one donor using four aliases has donated, created 60 children.

We know another donor in one year who had already donated through clinics and hit the cap, created 23 children. We know another donor who was aged in his 70s, still donating and hit the cap. We know another donor who had come from overseas, and he had created 100 children worldwide.

We know another donor who has previously gone on his baby-making tour of Queensland a couple of years ago, and his baby-making tour of New Zealand, already having created 20-odd children and still going, and what’s proposed to be done about that? Nothing now.

Apparently, that’s not urgent. What’s urgent is to regulate IVF clinics. So we’ll see what form the bill has. Certainly, I made a submission. I was critical of certain views expressed, namely the lack of time frame to respond, and others have made similar criticism.

So we’ll see what happens. We’ll see where this goes, but it’s clear that there will be laws before the state election in October to take effect regulating IVF industry in Queensland. Thank you.

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