What is DNA?

DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid and is present in every cell in your body. Put simply, it’s your genetic blueprint and it determines the structure and the function of every component in your body, including your eye and hair colour, your height and even your likelihood of developing certain diseases. With the exception of identical twins, everyone’s DNA is unique. Half of your DNA is inherited from your mother and the other half from your father.

Why is DNA testing useful?

  1. Medical DNA testing can help to diagnose and classify conditions at a DNA level. It can also sometimes determine whether some treatments are likely to be effective or not, or whether a different dose should be considered. It can also determine the future risk of disease. The likelihood of developing a condition in the future (based on a DNA result) is known as penetrance.
  2. Non-medical forensic and relationship DNA testing can be used to tell whether there is a genetic relationship between individuals. As such, it can be used to:
    • determine a child’s parent(s)
    • find out whether twins are identical or non-identical
    • provide forensic information at the scene of a crime
    • help with family reunions
    • resolve disputed estates and settle wills

Who needs to provide a DNA sample for the test?

For medical testing for a particular condition, at minimum, the patient. Sometimes, their parents or other relatives may be sought to clarify and help interpret results more accurately.

For relationship (non-medical) testing of any kind, the most accurate result possible is always obtained when we have samples from all parties in the biological relationship. In the case of a paternity test, this would mean a sample from the mother, the alleged father and the child. It is possible to conduct a paternity test using samples from the alleged father and child only.

What information will I have to provide?

For medical tests, the request is made through your medical practitioner, who will be asked to provide as much relevant clinical information as possible.

For non-medical relationship tests, we’ll normally ask you for:

  • the biological relationship you are trying to establish, i.e. “Am I the father?”
  • the name, age and sex of each person giving a sample
  • the availability for testing of the family members

From this information, we can usually tell you whether a test will be successful. In really complex cases we may ask for a few more details, or for additional family members to provide a sample.

How is DNA testing done?

It’s remarkably simple – and completely painless. We have a few different ways to collect DNA.

Medical tests requested through your doctor are no different from other pathology tests. Some genetic tests may require specialised consent. DNA can be collected by our network of laboratories like any other blood test, or sometimes, by using a mouth swab.

The easiest way to do a non-medical test is to provide DNA by swabbing the inside of your cheek from the provided kits. We then extract DNA from the swab in our hi-tech specialised laboratory and compare the DNA profiles of the people involved.  The only exception to this is our antenatal DNA test.

How long does DNA testing take?

It depends on the test.

Some medical tests can have reports issued in as little as a one day. Other routine tests have 5-10 working days as the normal turnaround time, although results for urgent cases can generally be expedited. Some complex and non-urgent tests can take up to a month. For most non-medical tests we guarantee you will receive an emailed report in less than 10 working days from when all samples are received at the laboratory. You can ask us about the turnaround time for a specific test by email, or when your sample is collected.

What is a parentage test?

The point of a DNA parentage test is to find out who the biological parent of the child is. The most common parentage test is the paternity test, which is normally taken by men looking to establish whether they are a child’s father.

How accurate is parentage testing?

If the genetic profile between the alleged father and the child does not match, then it is 100% certain that the alleged father is not the biological father. If the profiles match, there is a 99.9% certainty that the alleged father is the biological father.

What is the breakdown of the procedures involved for a legal test?

Once we have received your completed application form and payment we will locate the collection clinic closest to your home address and arrange your sample collection. You will receive an appointment letter with a date, time frame and the details of the clinic you can contact in order to set a specific time and date for your collection. We will provide full instructions regarding completing your Affidavit and supplying photos for the person/people getting collected. It is important you follow the instructions closely and provide requested documents/photos as a legal DNA test must follow the regulations set in the Family Law Act.

What is the outcome of a sibling test?

The genetic analysis involved in determining if individuals are related as full siblings (e.g. brother to sister) or half siblings (e.g. half-brother to half-sister) is more complex than in paternity testing. Because of this, in some relationship cases, our laboratory will not be able to provide a conclusive result. At best, we can calculate the relative likelihood that two individuals are related as half siblings. But because half-sibs are less closely related to each other than full sibs, it can be difficult to distinguish them from unrelated individuals. There are limitations to this type of DNA testing. Without a sample from the parent, it is not possible to definitively exclude a sibling relationship between two individuals. We always recommend that wherever possible, a sample from a parent is submitted for testing together with the two sibling samples.

Can I collect my own samples?

For a non-medical or non-legal test, yes.

Medical tests which have implications for your medical management must be referred through your doctor. Legal tests are requested through legal institutions for court hearings or other legal proceedings such as government agency reports.

Provided you are not taking the test for medical or legal reasons we’ll happily send you a free home collection kit – which allows you to take your own samples in the comfort of your own home.

What’s the difference between a legal test and a non-legal test?

In terms of scientific analysis, nothing. All samples are scrutinised by the same, highly-skilled team in the same thorough way. In a non-legal test however, there are fewer costs for us, and we can pass those savings on to you.

Where do I go for a legal paternity test?

If you need official DNA results for a court case, or a report that has to be submitted to a Government department, a legal DNA test is probably more suitable. This test cannot be done at home and must be taken at our collection sites around Australia by an independent third party. This ensures our report is admissible as evidence in a courtroom and accepted by Government agencies. To find out where these collection sites are located, contact our customer service team on 1800 822 999.

Who can witness my Affidavit?

A Justice of the Peace or a practising Solicitor can witness your Form 2 Affidavit. If you live in Victoria a member of the Police Force above the rank of Sergeant can also do this. To locate your nearest Justice of the Peace, call the following numbers:

Why do I need a physician referral to request a genetic test?

Australian legislation requires that all accredited laboratories providing medical DNA testing do so only through a medical practitioner. Referral from a health professional is necessary with all medical tests.

Some medical tests which predict future risk of cancer may require additional documentation, such as a patient consent. We highly recommend involving a genetic counsellor as they are trained professionals who understand the complexities associated with genetic testing. A team approach is imperative because a genetic result carries significant implications not only for the individual but invariably impacts the future health of genetic relatives.

Is there public funding to cover medical genetic testing?

Most genetic tests are not covered by Medicare. Certain eligibility criteria must be met to access publicly funded genetic testing; Self-funded (private) testing is also possible.
Please speak to your physician or genetic counsellor for more details about what is most appropriate for you.

Read more about our process here.

Can I privately pay for genetic tests if I am not eligible to access public funds?

Yes, genetic tests (including cancer tests) can be self/privately funded, however a test request must be completed and signed by a requesting health professional. Genomic Diagnostics accepts credit card, cheques and money orders.

Is genetic counselling provided by the public or private sector?

In various regions of Australia and New Zealand, clinical genetic services are administered by both public and private health facilities and may function differently.
Public genetic services are available at most metropolitan hub hospitals, with periodic services available in regional and rural centres. Entry to publicly funded genetic services is usually by referral from a doctor (general practitioner or medical specialist). However, self-referral may be acceptable to some units especially with pre-existing heritable cancers and/or strong family history of cancers.

For private genetic counselling services, Australian residents may be able to access refundable Medicare schedules if seen by a clinical geneticist. All services welcome contact from individuals who have a genetic concern, Genomic Diagnostics can refer you to an appropriate genetic service,  ask here.

Can I have on-line genetic counselling?

Genetic counselling consultations can be provided on-line by certain doctors and genetic counsellors, and these are ideal for remote patients. Genetic counselling on-line can be publicly funded if the eligibility criteria is met or in other cases a Medicare refundable schedule for Australian residents may apply. For more information Genomic Diagnostics can refer you to on-line genetic services  here.

How do I receive the report?

Medical test results are confidential and are issued as an encrypted password protected report, or via secure links, only to the requesting health professional. The health professional will provide the test interpretation and advice on clinical management options.

Genomic Diagnostics can offer a pre-packaged, return postage paid kit for specimen collection. Either request a swab kit or schedule a blood draw with your physician or pathology service.

What does a genetic test kit contain?

Our kits contain:

  • Specimen collection and transportation instruction – Detailed instructions on how to collect the sample and transport it back to Genomic Diagnostics laboratories.
  • Transportation container – Validated and approved shipment container for the safe and reliable transportation of biological samples.
  • Absorbent sheet – Absorbent sheet to contain fluids in case a specimen bottle breaks during transport.
  • Test request form – Accredited medical laboratory tests must be requested by and reported to a registered health professional, either a physician or genetic counsellor.
  • Consent form – If a patient chooses to proceed with genetic testing, written consent is required; in certain cases a guardian consent form is required.
  • Courier satchel – Self sealing, water resistant courier satchel to return samples back to the Genomic Diagnostics laboratory for testing.
  • Consignment note – Pre-paid account and instructions to return specimens back to the Genomic Diagnostics laboratory for testing.
  • Customer information sheet – Provides information and guidance on test requirements, description of analysis, method, limitation of method, interpretive criteria, description of nomenclature and quality assurance.
  • Payment Form – If an individual is not eligible for public funding, self funded tests are possible.

For cheek swab

  • Swab – Easy to use sterile new generation swab kit with transport media.

For overseas:

  • Permit to Import – Valid import application covering customs and duty.
  • Declaration of Goods – Import declaration for clearance of goods from Custom and Border Protection

All our specimen collection and transportation kits are packed in accordance with P1650 requirements for Category B biological substances (UN3373).

Can a kit be sent directly to my home or office?

In Australia, we have many convenient collection centres nationally, however a kit can be sent directly to your home or office upon a request from a physician for medical tests. Ask your physician to write to info@genomicdiagnostics.com.au or call+61 3 9918 2020 or toll free 1800 822 999 with your details and a return postage paid kit will be sent.

What is the specimen requirement?

Genomic Diagnostics accept cheek swabs, peripheral blood specimens, extracted DNA or FFPE (fixed tissue biopsy) slides/block depending on the test required. All samples for medical tests must be accompanied by a physician’s request form. Cheek swabs are non-invasive and can be self or assisted collected at home or in clinics with no collection or transport time constraints. Peripheral blood can be collected at one of our pathology collections centres by a phlebotomist or by your physician and transported within 72hours to the laboratory. FFPE (fixed tissue biopsy) blocks/samples must be retrieved by the requesting physician, please speak to us for a pathology specimen request form.

Do unclassified variants ever become reclassified? Is this a free service?

A test result may be describe a DNA variant as “a genetic variant of uncertain clinical significance” because it isn’t known whether the variant is causative on an individual’s risk of developing cancer. As more knowledge becomes available worldwide about genetic disorders, some of these DNA variants do become reclassified.

Interpretation of all variants requires a high degree of scientific skill and accountability. Genomic Diagnostics are continuously reassessing unclassified variants and keeping abreast of the literature and new findings. If Genomic Diagnostics determine that a variant becomes clinically actionable, an amended report will be sent to the physician immediately, this is a free service.

I have planned surgery and need a result as soon as possible?

It is possible to have an express service; Genomic Diagnostics offers an express service for urgent cases, the turnaround time for comprehensive genetic testing is up to 8 business days, for predictive testing up to 5 business days.

Is Genomic Diagnostics an accredited laboratory?

Our testing is performed under strict quality assurance protocols which mean our results are accurate, safe, secure and reliable. Genomic Diagnostics is NATA / RCPA accredited for Australian Standards (AS/ISO 15189).
Our Laboratory Certificates:

Is privacy and confidentiality assured?

We have employed the most stringent safeguards available to protect the privacy of our clients. Genomic Diagnostics is HIPPA compliant and bound by the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012.

Does the medical division of Genomic Diagnostics offer direct to consumer tests?

Our medical portfolio for genetic testing is not direct to consumer; all medical tests offered by Genomic Diagnostics require a referral from a health professional.