The Checkup Insights: Queensland playing catch up with Assisted Reproductive Technology regulation

21 May 2024

What could new proposed legislation mean for Queenslanders?

Queensland looks set to join other Australian states with the introduction of proposed new legislation regulating Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

In May 2024, the Queensland Government announced that an Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill is in the works. While the detail of the proposed Bill is limited, we understand it will likely seek to capture accessing and licensing ART services, storage and use of sperm, eggs and embryos, posthumous and ante-mortem retrieval and use of gametes, and information requirements. The Queensland Government also hopes to use the Bill to introduce a central donor conception register allowing donor-conceived people to have access to information enabling them to track their genetic origins.

The proposed Bill will introduce a regulatory framework for ART providers including registration, licensing, compliance, monitoring and enforcement. A similar approach has been adopted by other Australian states and territories including the introduction of registers of registered providers and penalties for unregistered providers.

Regulation of ART providers in Queensland

Queensland ART providers are currently regulated via a national and self-regulated framework consisting of:

  • The Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC), and
  • The Code of Practice for Assisted Reproductive Technology Units by the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) which is a professional group of the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand.

The RTAC makes a publicly available list of RTAC accredited ART providers.

It is anticipated that the new Bill would give Queensland Health various compliance and enforcement powers, such as to inspect premises, impose conditions and suspend or cancel an ART provider’s licence in the event of non compliance.

Position across Australia

South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria have legislation which provides for the regulatory framework of ART providers, central registers of donors, and the creation of statutory agencies and committees. Most recently, in March 2024, the Australian Capital Territory joined the ranks and introduced the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2024 (ACT). At the time of publication, there is no legislation regulating ART providers in the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

Across the states and territory that have introduced legislation regulating ART providers, the penalties for providing unregistered ART services range from $32,000 - $162,000 and/or imprisonment between 2 – 5 years. It will be interesting to see whether Queensland will adopt a similar approach.

Next steps for Queensland

The proposed draft Bill and following legislation will be watched closely by Queensland health professionals and fertility clinics.

Stay tuned for regular updates on developments as they occur.

If you would like to know more about regulation of ART providers in your state or territory, or you’re after specific advice, please contact the authors or one of our Health Law experts.

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