This public lecture will review the available evidence of genetic discrimination in Australian life insurance based on predictive genetic tests, and critically evaluates the regulatory response. The need for greater protection is increasingly being recognised and exists in comparable jurisdictions including the UK, Canada and many European countries. Notably, a recent Commonwealth Inquiry into the Life Insurance Industry has recommended a moratorium be introduced banning use of genetic test information for underwriting in life insurance. In particular, the paper highlights problems with the current model of industry self-regulation and advocates for closer government oversight. In mounting an argument for the need for change, the paper discusses evidence that fear of genetic discrimination is inhibiting uptake of genetic testing in both clinical and research settings. Implementation of the Inquiry’s recommendations will be an important part of giving reassurance to patients, and their families, clinicians and research participants, that uptake of genetic testing will not have negative implications for future life insurance applications. This is an essential step to the goal of bringing genomics within mainstream healthcare.


Margaret Otlowski is a Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania (formerly Law Dean 2010-2017) and Deputy Director of the Centre for Law and Genetics. In August 2017 she was appointed as Pro Vice Chancellor (Culture and Wellbeing) at the University of Tasmania. She has been admitted to practice as barrister and solicitor and has held quasi-judicial roles including as member of the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. She has longstanding experience in health law and ethics, publishing extensively in the field, has been engaged by Commonwealth and State governments and agencies as consultant, and member for various committees and working parties. She was member of the NHMRC’s Human Genetics Advisory Committee and Australian Health Ethics Committee serving as member in common, for two triennium (2009-2015). She has been a chief investigator on a number of funded collaborative research projects on law and genetics including an ARC funded project which she led investigating genetic discrimination in Australia (2002-2004) in collaboration with Kristine Barlow-Stewart and Sandy Taylor. Margaret was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law in 2015. In April 2018 she was appointed the Patron for the Tasmanian Women Lawyers.
Please follow the eventbrite link to register your attendance by Friday 8 June 2018

Public Lecture: Genetic Discrimination in Australia

Thu 14 Jun 2018 5:30pm7:00pm


Level 10 Y Block
QUT Gardens Point Campus
Room 360