Key messages

  • The Department of Health & Human Services provides funding for public genetic services in Victoria.
  • Public genetic services in Victoria are based around four metropolitan hubs and Victorian Clinical Genetics Services.
  • Referral to genetic services is by a general practitioner or specialist, or self-referral by affected individuals or family member of affected individuals.
  • Access to publicly funded genetic testing is available through public genetic clinics.

The Department of Health & Human Services provides funding and support for public reproductive, paediatric and adult genetic and heritable cancer services in Victoria.

The Department of Health & Human Services funds high quality public genetic services in Victoria and provides a range of diagnostic testing and risk assessment services.

Genetic services strategy

The Victorian genetic services policy is currently guided by Genetics services strategy for Victoria 2005-2009. This strategy is being refreshed to guide future service development.

To this end, departmental officers, clinicians, scientists and community representatives identified a range of issues and options regarding genetics and genomics in a 2015 workshop.  The workshop outcomes have informed development of the Genomic health Care for Victoria - A Discussion Paper. This discussion paper presents a range of views and proposed actions for your review and consideration.

Your feedback to the discussion paper is now sought. A response template is available to capture your feedback. The deadline for your feedback is Friday 9 September 2016.

Your feedback will inform the development of a statewide genetics/genomics framework and subsequent service planning.

Public genetic services

Clinical genetic services in Victoria are provided on a hub and spoke basis. There are four metropolitan hubs that provide services and also provide outreach clinics to other metropolitan, regional and rural hospitals:

  • Parkville - Victorian Clinical Genetics Services/Royal Children’s Hospital, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Women’s Hospital
  • Heidelberg - Austin Hospital, Mercy Hospital for Women
  • Clayton - Monash Medical Centre
  • East Melbourne - Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Some clinics are general, covering all genetic conditions. Others are staffed to address specific conditions such as familial cancer, cardiology or neurogenetics.

Types of services available

The following services are available in Victoria:

  • clinical diagnosis
  • clinical risk assessment
  • genetic counselling
  • diagnostic testing
  • predictive testing
  • education
  • professional training.

Public genetic services are delivered within broader health service policy outlined in the Victorian health priorities framework 2012-2022.

Referral to genetic services

Access to genetic services is by referral from a general practitioner or specialist. A person can also self-refer if they are already diagnosed with a genetic condition. Or a family member of an individual already diagnosed with a genetic condition can refer them to genetic services.

Services are available for children, adults and their families and may be provided in consultation with other specialists in areas such as oncology, neurology and cardiology.

Support for patients and carers

The Genetic Support Network of Victoria (GSNV) is a community resource for patients affected by genetic conditions and their families, health professionals, government and the general community.

GSNV offers a range of services including information, support groups and links between families with the same condition. It also represents the interests and views of patients and their families to the community, and to state and federal governments.

Newborn screening

Newborn screening is available for all babies at birth in Victoria. Further information is available at Victorian Clinical Genetics Services.

Advances in genetics

Genetic services have the potential to ease (if not avoid) immense individual suffering.

Advances in human genetics over the past twenty years have revolutionised knowledge of the role of inheritance in health and disease.

Recent advances in human genetics include the mapping of the human genome, increasingly accessible technology, increased awareness of genetic issues in the community and the identification of links between individual genomes, disease occurrence and treatment responsiveness.

Genetic testing has the ability to predict the level of individual risk for inherited medical conditions, based on an individual's genome. This means that individuals, in collaboration with their healthcare professionals, can decide on interventions that may delay or even avoid onset of some medical conditions.