Connolly’s Corner – September

Sarah Connolly. (Supplied).

by Tarneit MP, Sarah Connolly

Welcome back folks to Connolly’s Corner!

Whilst we all continue to do our bit to beat this outbreak and get vaccinated, I thought I’d

share with you something deeply personal on a topic that’s close to my heart – the

accessibility of IVF treatment and how we’re removing barriers to make treatment more

accessible and affordable for everyone.

In a local community where so many babies are being born each week, I know for many

families in Wyndham, the road to parenthood is not always an easy one. It certainly wasn’t

an easy journey for my husband and I – all three of our children were conceived through

IVF, with our eldest daughter Viviene stillborn at 37 weeks.

Just over 12 years ago we found ourselves on our very own IVF emotional rollercoaster.

Back then, infertility wasn’t something widely spoken or known about in our community.

Counselling services were available, but not something we readily took up. Looking back

now, we should have. Sadly, this is still a common occurrence for so many families right

across Victoria for whom the joys of parenthood are only possible through access to IVF


Victoria has a long proud history of supporting IVF research and practice. Going back to the

1970s and 80s, we lead the nation in the research and development of fertility treatment

services and saw the first IVF baby in Australia – Candace Reed – born right here in Victoria

in 1980. Today, Victoria accounts for 30% of treatments across Australia.

Over the last forty years, we’ve made huge strides in making IVF treatment increasingly

accessible to Victorians. The Infertility (Medical Procedures) Act 1984 provided for the

regulation of IVF treatment procedures and the associated human embryo research, the

first piece of legislation in the world to do so. Flash forward 24 years later, and the Bracks

Government superseded this legislation with the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008,

which provided a modernised and updated regulatory framework for IVF treatment. More

importantly, it began the process of improving outdated barriers that existed for modern

would-be families.

You see, until 2008, eligibility to undergo IVF treatment in Victoria was only open to

heterosexual married couples – an outdated notion that ignored the features of the

Australian modern family. This especially ignored the hopes and dreams of LGBTQ couples

for whom this process could realise their dreams of having a child of their own, a fact we

changed in 2008.

In 2018, the Andrews Government decided to take another look at our IVF laws, and

commissioned a landmark review into the Act. Headed by Michael Gorton AM, the

comprehensive report made a staggering 80 recommendations with a goal to make IVF

more accessible and affordable for more Victorian families.

Since being elected to Parliament in 2018, I’ve now had the pleasure of helping to pass

three Bills implementing a number of these changes. In 2019, we removed barriers to

treatment where women who were separated, but not divorced from their spouse, required

their consent to undergo treatment. Last year, we removed an outdated and discriminatory

requirement that women seeking to undergo IVF needed to get a police check. And last

month, we passed a further set of amendments making it easier for LGBTQ couples to have

genetically related children.

As someone who has gone through this process, I know exactly how much relief these

changes will bring to those ready to add to their families. To folks about to embark on their

IVF journey or are in the middle of a treatment, I wish you the best of luck – stay strong, stay

focussed and be kind to yourself.