Non-consensual genetic testing occurs when bodily samples are taken and genetically tested without the consent of the individual to whom they relate. Biomedical technology enables genetic testing to be performed on minute bodily samples. Genetic information may be derived from samples such as hair follicles, saliva left on a glass or cigarette, cheek cells left on a toothbrush and cells deposited on an item of clothing or mucus in a paper tissue. The combination of powerful biomedical technology and the ability to easily access human genetic samples leaves open the potential for non-consensual genetic testing to occur.
After surveying the existing legal framework, the committee concluded that the harms arising from non-consensual genetic testing are not addressed in Australia. The discussion paper proposes that jurisdictions should consider implementing model offence provisions to address these harms.