VARTA's Annual Report 2016 was receipted in parliament in October. The report identified trends in assisted reproductive treatment in Victoria as well as highlights of VARTA activity during the 2015-16 financial year. Facts of note include an increase in the overall number of treatment cycles and a rise in the number of women treated compared. Single women continue to be the largest proportion of women treated with donor sperm (50 per cent), followed by women in same-sex relationships (35 per cent) and heterosexual relationships (15 per cent). There has also been an expansion in the number of women undergoing pre-implantation genetic testing. The annual report data also recorded the addition of data to the Central Register resulting from changes to donor conception laws on 29 June 2015; particularly, information regarding parties involved with, or the result of, pre-1988 donor concept treatment. The growth in donor linking activity at VARTA was also reflected in the report. The Annual Report 2016 is available for download on the VARTA website.
The child’s right to know and family law orders was the title of the 2016 Louis Waller Lecture, an annual lecture series designed to commemorate the significant contribution Emeritus Professor Louis Waller has made to the field of assisted reproductive treatment in Victoria. As this year’s invited speaker, Chief Judge John Pascoe, chief judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia since 2004, discussed the right of the child to know his or her biological heritage and how this right is threatened by advances in technology as well as limited by the slow pace of the law to respond adequately.The lecture, held on 9 November at the State Library of Victoria with almost 120 people in the audience, was well received by audience members, many of whom provided positive feedback via VARTA's follow-up survey. A summary of the event is available on the VARTA website as is the full transcript of the Chief Judge's speech.
The Your Fertility was announced this year’s winner of the Sexual Health Society of Victoria Best Poster Award at the 2016 Australasian Sexual Health Conference. VARTA CEO Louise Johnson received the award for Your Fertility – evaluation of a health promotion program to improve awareness of factors that affect fertility
on behalf of the Your Fertility program. The winning poster evaluated Your Fertility’s achievements from the program’s launch in 2011 to June 2016.
VARTA has published a revised edition of the Time to Tell brochure
. More new and updated brochures will be published in the New Year.
VARTA has seen a number of changes to its staff configuration in the past quarter. These changes are the result of preparations for its expanded role as set out by amended donor conception laws being enacted in Victoria by 1 March. In line with this, the Donor Conception Register Services has gained three new staff members. Effie Lekkas is VARTA's new registers officer, while Jacqueline Evans and Emily Hunter have joined as counsellor and community educators. Michelle Gilmour has also joined as VARTA's new legal officer. All new positions are part-time, with varying hours in the office. VARTA is sorry to say goodbye to Caroline Jordan, Education Officer, who is taking a sabbatical abroad with her family.
VARTA will be closed Friday, 23 December 2016 and will reopen on Tuesday, 3 January. Urgent enquiries can be directed to VARTA CEO Louise Johnson on 0419 557 639.