Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Released on behalf of the Minister for Defence - MSPA 044/10

Media reports today that Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel have been banned from storing semen prior to deployment are incorrect.

The Australian Defence Force provides Assisted Reproductive Services (ARS) to support families where there is an underlying medical reason for infertility.

Defence's current policy in relation to assisted reproduction services was introduced in March 2003.

This policy states that standard medical services for the baseline investigation of infertility will be provided to members at the ADF's expense.

With regard to specific ARS, those services covered by Medicare will be provided to the member at the ADF's expense. This includes general expenses associated with the treatments, such as anaesthetic fees, hospital expenses and gynaecologist fees.

Defence will cover both the Medicare fee and the gap for the specific ARS authorised by Joint Health Command. Defence will not fund any items not covered by Medicare.

ADF personnel who wish to store semen prior to deployment may do so at their own expense.

Sixty-one semen samples were stored during 2008 and 2009.

Some Health Officers approved 12 requests for semen freezing and storage for ADF members prior to deployment. This was not in line with the current Defence policy.

Ten samples were removed from storage in consultation with the relevant ADF personnel when they returned from deployment. Two samples will remain in storage in Darwin until the personnel return to Australia.

At that time the individuals will be given the option to have the sample destroyed or stored at their own expense.

It should also be emphasised that there are broader legal issues which must also be considered in regard to this issue.

This is a very sensitive matter and Defence continues to take all reasonable steps to ensure the health and welfare of Defence personnel.

Media Contact::

Defence Media Liaison: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664