Assisted Reproductive Treatment Services

Minister’s statement

Ms MIKAKOS (Northern Metropolitan—Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services) (12:14): I am very pleased to kick off the first ministers statement for this year. I rise to update the house on the action our government is taking to ensure all Victorians seeking assisted reproductive treatment services can do so in a safe and supportive environment. IVF can be a time of great joy for Victorians who have achieved their dreams of growing their family. I acknowledge that IVF has been the source of immense joy for thousands of Victorians, and it was my absolute privilege to be upstaged by little Jack earlier this week, who I met together with his mum, Rebecca. I acknowledge the great joy that that family has received as a result of this technology. But sadly IVF can also be the source of great sadness, not least because the treatment may be unsuccessful. It can be an isolating, emotional and costly journey. It is particularly distressing when someone falls victim to an unscrupulous IVF provider who has peddled false hope about their chances of starting a family.

Last year we commissioned an independent review of assisted reproductive treatment services in Victoria, led by Michael Gorton, AM. As part of that review, some very brave people came forward with potential breaches, clinical errors, inadequate communication with patients and unethical practices. There were also a number of concerning examples of clinics and infertility specialists publishing information that was potentially misleading and deceptive, including about the chances of success and the costs associated with treatment.

Every year 13 000 women undertake IVF in Victoria. Whilst many IVF providers do the right thing, there are some who put profits before patient safety, and that is completely unacceptable. This is why I have asked the health complaints commissioner, Karen Cusack, to examine these issues. I thank Michael Gorton for his interim report delivered late last year, and I look forward to his final report in coming weeks, as well as the health complaints commissioner’s report, which will be delivered by the end of the year. Our government is committed to giving all Victorians better access to IVF services, and this is why we have committed $32 million for the provision of public IVF services in Victoria so that more Victorians can have the joy of becoming parents and do so in a safe and supportive environment.