2015 National Conference for Donor Conceived People & Accompanying Art Exhibition
Date and Time:
Saturday 27th June 2015, 10am – 5pm
Majorca Room, Level 1, City Library, 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Who Can Attend?
Donor conceived people over the age of 16 years
To create an opportunity for donor conceived people from across Australia to network and provide peer support as we explore topics such as what it means to be donor conceived, the search for identity, belonging, and the meaning of family.
The ethos of the conference is supporting all donor conceived people. Each person has their own perspective which is reflected in differing levels of desire to access or not access information about their biological origins. However this decision should be framed by a fundamental choice to access information about our biological origins, if we so wish, no matter when or where we were born.
The national conference is timed to coincide with the enactment of Victorian legislation which comes into effect on Monday 29th June 2015 that will allow all donor conceived people to apply for information about their donor. We would like to take this opportunity to publicise the need to improve the rights of donor conceived people across Australia. There will be forums on the Victorian experience of law reform and opportunities for interested people to help coordinate peer support groups and find out how they can support a national approach to protecting donor treatment records against destruction, establishing donor registers if they don’t already exist, and allowing donor conceived people to access information about their genetic identity.
There will also be a concurrent art exhibition held at the City Library Gallery. The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) and a creative coalition of donor-conceived people and donors will present a mixed-media exhibition exploring the historical context, personal experiences, changing public opinion, and potential new outcomes for donors and donor-conceived people, with a focus on community education. If you are interested in contributing to this art exhibition please contact us or VARTA senior education officer Kate Bourne email@example.com
Research into the Rights of Donor Conceived People to Identifying information
Donna Lyons, the author of this questionnaire, is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Law, Trinity College Dublin, where she is researching the right of donor-conceived individuals to access identifying information about their donors and donor siblings, with a particular focus on the right of DC individuals below the age of majority (18) to access this information. The questionnaire is applicable to all DC individuals of any age or nationality, irrespective of whether they have received identifying information about their own donor/donor siblings. The questionnaire has also been circulated within the DSR (US) and the DC Network (UK). Information received through the questionnaire will be analysed in Donna's doctoral thesis and this analysis will subsequently be submitted to a number of peer-reviewed journals for publication. All information received will be treated entirely anonymously. Completed questionnaires and/or any questions regarding the questionnaire should be directed to Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click Here for Questionaire
Social equity journalism winner at the Walkley Awards was Belinda Hawkin’s
“Searching for C11 Part One”
“Searching for C11 Part Two”
“Breaking the Code”
“Searching for C11” – the search by donor-conceived children for their biological fathers –uncorked Australia’s untold story in the age of IVF. Australian Story followed three young women searching to make sense of laws written in the 1980s that prevented them knowing who their donor fathers were.
The culmination of two years’ work, Belinda Hawkins’ story charts the human cost of reproductive treatments and examines complex issues surrounding donor confidentiality. It highlights the rights of the child, while raising serious questions about legislative shortfall and the practices of donor insemination clinics. It follows one of the women, Lauren Burns, as she discovers she is the grandchild of Professor Manning Clark, and captures the moment when she meets the wider Clark family.
Belinda Hawkins’ revelations that original patient records at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital were deliberately damaged prompted an internal investigation, while NSW MP John Barilaro called for an independent inquiry. The Victorian Upper House passed groundbreaking legislation several days after the second part of the program was aired.
Judges’ Comments: “This story had an impressive dramatic tension, and handled with nuance a complex ethical and social issue that will only get bigger as more donor-conceived children come forward for answers. Hawkins framed an issue that wasn’t in the public consciousness and put it into the public domain. It’s the essence of what the social equity category is about – compelling storytelling with powerful impact that leaves the viewer better informed.”
Adelaide-born artist Kim Buck's search for donor father number 12
891 ABC Adelaide
By Eloise Fuss
Posted 21 Nov 2014, 11:39amFri 21 Nov 2014, 11:39am
Seeping through Kim Buck's acclaimed artwork is a quiet sense of struggle, a tension she suspects may stem from her unsolvable donor mystery.
After finding out at 16 that she was conceived through donated sperm, the only information South Australian born Ms Buck has been able to uncover is his donor number - 12.
"I think I just imagined it would be an easy process," Ms Buck told 891 ABC Adelaide.
"I know this information, I know the clinic, I know the treating doctor.
"Now, can I find out that other very significant information about my heritage?"
But the process has not proved simple.
In terms of a sense of self identity, self concept, a medical history, where half on my appearance comes from, they're very fundamental things that the vast majority of people have access to.
Born in 1984 at the Flinders Medical Clinic, Ms Buck has been told all donor records from the time of her birth were deliberately destroyed by the facility.
"I was able to get in touch with my mum's treating doctor who was very well-known and well-respected in this assisted reproductive technology area," she said.
"His words were 'they thought they were doing the best thing at the time, because there was no legislation protecting the rights of the donor'."
Ms Buck said it is "bamboozling" that this crucial information was destroyed, leaving her unable to access simple answers about her origins.
"To be honest, I would be happy with a photograph and a little bit of a medical history," she said.
"I have a dad and it's not about replacing a dad figure in any way.
"But in terms of a sense of self-identity, self-concept, a medical history, where half on my appearance comes from ... they're very fundamental things that the vast majority of people have access to."
Is it nature or nurture?
Ms Buck said she shares her mum's physical attributes and passion for art, but is intrigued by a number of her qualities that are not as easily explained, and could stem from her donor.
"Despite the fact I'm an artist now I've had a very strong interest in science throughout my life," she said.
"I did quite well at school in the science and maths arena and mum definitely doesn't have any interest in that respect.
"Probably an interest in fitness and the outdoors as well, I don't know where that's come from."
Ms Buck said one the biggest challenges was when her younger brother was able to retrieve his donor records.
"He was born in 1989, by which time they were keeping much more thorough records, and he had no trouble whatsoever in the process to meet his donor.
"To see my brother have a sense of resolution and conclusion about that part of him and his life - whilst it was amazing to see him have that opportunity - it hurt as well."
Art imitating life
Ms Buck said it did not originally occur to her that this struggle could be playing out in her artwork, which often features restless figures.
"It's something somebody mentioned maybe seven or eight years ago once they found out about this donor conception part of who I am.
"They inferred that perhaps subconsciously that's what's being processed through the art, and it's in all likelihood true."
In her detailed charcoal drawings she rarely depicts faces and a feeling of isolation and struggle pervades her art.
"There's a sense through pretty much all the work that these anonymous figures are kind of struggling against something, whether it's forces or fear or the unknown or gravity.
"Looking at it through this particular lens of not knowing that big chunk of my personal history, it makes perfect sense."
Continuing to face this mystery, Ms Buck is comforted by a recent increase in conversation and around the issue of donor conception and the rights of those involved.
"People are talking and being open about it, sharing resources in a way. We've all got completely different stories but can help each other."
Hope for legislation change
Ms Buck currently lives in Melbourne and next year will be part of the first Australian national conference for donor-conceived people.
This will coincide with a Victorian legislative amendment to be introduced which will increase the rights of donor children to access information about their conception.
"All these late 70s early 80s babies are reaching an age where we're really more able to advocate, to speak for ourselves, and try find something that is better," Ms Buck said.
"And a lot of people in this age group are having their families and it's bringing up all of these issues for them."
She hopes this momentum will also reach her home state.
"I believe the family law act is still from the 1970s and there's not even a voluntary register or anything of this nature in South Australia, so we're very far behind the eight ball," she said.
Whilst Ms Buck has hope for the increased rights of modern donor-conceived babies, this will not change the continuing anonymity of her own origins.
"It is a strong need in me to have that resolution. It feels like a part of me is completely unresolved, and no matter what I do I can't fix it, there's a big gap there," she said.
"But I would like to make it very clear that I'm very grateful to be alive, and I wouldn't be if it wasn't for the generous donation of that anonymous donor number 12."