Prior to the commencement of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2007 (ART Act) on 1 January 2010 donations of sperm, eggs or embryos were made anonymously. This created difficulties for individuals conceived as a result of ART treatment using donated gametes or embryos because they were unable to obtain information about their genetic heritage including their medical history.
The ART Act prevents the use of anonymous gametes. Children born since the commencement of the ART Act on 1 January 2010 as a result of ART treatment using donated gametes, with the exception of a small number who fall within the transitional provisions will be able to access information about their donor when they turn 18 years of age. Consequently the ART Act requires ART providers to keep comprehensive records in relation to donors, women receiving treatment and the children born as a result of that treatment.
The transitional provisions apply to individuals who were donor conceived after 1 January 2010 in circumstances where the woman receiving the ART treatment had commenced that treatment prior to 1 January 2010.
In the past gametes were donated anonymously and recipients did not expect to receive information about their child's donor. Because there was no specific legal requirement regarding record keeping, records about donors were often not comprehensive or not kept at all. In addition many donors donated on the basis of anonymity and some will not consent to release of their information.
This means that means that when individuals born before 1 January 2010 as a result of ART treatment using donated gametes search for information about their donors the information may not be available.
To assist donor conceived individuals in their search for information about their donors, as a sperm, egg or embryo donor before 1 January 2010, you are encouraged to register your details on the NSW Ministry of Health Central Register and consent to release of any or all of this information so that any offspring can access your information if they register.
You can also apply for information about any offspring resulting from your donated sperm, eggs or embryos through the NSW Ministry of Health Central Register. However information will only be available if your offspring has voluntarily placed his or her details on the Central Register and consented to the release of that information.
Before registering or applying for information from the NSW Health Central Register, the NSW Ministry of Health strongly recommends that you discuss this matter with a counsellor.
Donor conceived individuals who were conceived prior to 1 January 2010 and donor conceived individuals who fall within the transitional arrangements have a right to obtain certain non-identifying information about the donor, called "accessible information".
"Accessible information" about a donor is non-identifying information about:
Applications for this information can be made either directly to an ART provider or to the Secretary, NSW Health. Applications can be made by donor conceived individuals over the age of 18 years and those who fall within the transitional arrangements, or the parent where the donor conceived person is a child.
Accessible information is non-identifying information about a donor. Identifying information can only be released where the donor has provided information to the Central Register voluntarily and consented to the release of that information.
To register or apply for information you complete the application form on this site or you can contact the NSW Ministry of Health in person or by phone to request that the form be sent to you. You will also need to provide 100 points of identification when you return your completed application form.
A donor who donated gametes prior to the January 2010 can voluntarily place information on the Central Register. The following information is required by ART providers to research records when a request for information is made. Donors can provide all or some of the information:
The donor must indicate which parts of this information he or she consents to being made available. For example the donor can consent to the ethnicity, physical characteristics, medical history, date and place of birth being released but not the name and address.
The quality of record keeping prior to legislation may affect the matching process. Therefore the more information donors can provide about the number of donations made and the name/s of the clinics sperm, eggs or embryos were provided to, the more likelihood there is of matching offspring.
Accessible information, that is de-identified information, will be provided on request to donor offspring, or the parent when the person is not yet 18 years of age.
Other information, including identifying information, that has been voluntarily provided can only be given to someone else with the donor's express consent.
Where a donor provided information voluntarily to the Central Register the information can be removed by notifying the NSW Ministry of Health in writing.
Consent for release of information can also be revoked or varied at any time by notifying the Secretary, NSW Health, in writing.
Donor conceived adults who were conceived before 1 January 2010, can place themselves voluntarily on the NSW Ministry of Health Central Register and can provide any or all of the following information:
Similar to donors before 1 January 2010, where a donor offspring is providing voluntary information he/she will be encouraged to provide as much information as possible, to help any applicant who is seeking information.
The donor offspring will also be asked to indicate what part of the information they wish to share with the donor. For example while they may consent to their date and place of birth being released, they may not want their name or address shared.
It is also important to remember that the reliability of information and records held by the ART provider cannot be guaranteed. You may wish to consider genetic testing to confirm any biological links.
If the ART provider identifies relevant offspring based on their records, they will notify the NSW Ministry of Health. These non identifying details will be retained until such time as the relevant offspring registers and provides consent to have his or her information released to you. Due to privacy considerations the NSW Ministry of Health is not able to approach the offspring to seek consent to release information.
Please remember that the reliability of information voluntarily provided and of records kept by the ART provider cannot be guaranteed. You may wish to consider genetic testing to confirm biological links.
Information provided voluntarily can only be released where details have been placed on the Central Register and consent allowing access to information has been provided.
It may be that some records are not available or incomplete and in these instances, the NSW Ministry of Health may not be able to assist. If the Central Register does not contain information, you are always free to contact your ART provider directly. ART providers have a responsibility to make every endeavour to assist in your request for information. There will also be times when the relevant offspring wishes to remain anonymous. In these instances, no information will be able to be provided.
When an authenticated match has been made between donor and offspring/other offspring, the NSW Ministry of Health will notify you via Registered Post that a match has been made. To ensure you are able to receive the result in a supported way, you will also receive information about the relevant ART Provider and how to access counselling.
If you are not seeking information about any other party you can still choose to place non-identifying information about yourself on the Central Register. There is no obligation to do anything further. Only identifying information you consent to be released will be released. The NSW Ministry of Health will only contact you if you consent to being contacted.
See the Central Register page and the list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for further information about Voluntary information on the Central Register and the process that the NSW Ministry of Health and NSW ART Providers undertake in order to facilitate the exchange of information.
DirectorRegulation and Compliance UnitNSW Ministry of HealthLocked Mail Bag 2030St Leonards NSW 1590
(02) 9424 5955