Genetics Services of Western Australia

Genetics Services of Western Australia

Genetic Services of Western Australia (GSWA) is a state-wide service providing clinical genetic services and consultations for people with a hereditary condition (passed through families) and those concerned about their risk of developing a hereditary condition. It provides a comprehensive state-wide diagnostic and confidential counselling service in clinical genetics. These services are provided by a range of staff, including clinical geneticists and genetic counsellors. There is no charge for accessing our services if you have a Medicare card.

The service has offices at KEMH and Perth Children’s Hospital as well as a network of Outreach Clinics in:

  • Joondalup and Rockingham, monthly
  • Albany, Bunbury, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie, every 3 months
  • Port Hedland, every 6 months
  • Karratha, yearly.

GSWA consists of three subspecialty divisions:

  • Obstetrics and General Genetic Services
  • Familial Cancer Program
  • Genetic Paediatric Services.
  • Obstetrics and General Genetic Services
  • Familial Cancer Program
  • Genetic Paediatric Services

Clients are primarily referred to GSWA by GPs, specialists or hospital inpatient wards/outpatient clinics. Self-referrals may be accepted in some instances.

Information for patients and families

What happens once my doctor sends a referral to GSWA?

Once we receive your referral, a genetic counsellor will review the information. Before we make an appointment it’s important to gather all the necessary details about your family history to enable us to make an accurate assessment.

A genetic counsellor may phone to ask these questions (this call will be from a private number) but we may also send you paperwork in the mail to complete. This may include a family history questionnaire or consent forms to be signed by your family members. All information provided before, during or after your appointment is treated confidentially.

Once we have enough information to decide how we can best assist you, we will contact you to discuss the next steps.


What is genetic counselling?

Genetic counselling is the provision of information and support regarding genetic disorders, birth defects, health concerns or test results relating to the individual or their family. This may involve the diagnosis of a genetic condition and supportive counselling to assist decision-making and the adjustment process that occurs when a condition is new to a family or individual. Genetic counselling may occur via telephone or by appointment at a genetic clinic.

Genetic counselling is provided by a team of health professionals including genetic counsellors and clinical geneticists.

Genetic counsellors are usually graduate health professionals with specialist training in genetics and counselling. They undergo a training process certified by the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA).

Clinical geneticists are medical practitioners with a genetics specialty, also certified by the Human Genetics Society of Australasia and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, to provide clinical genetics services.


What to expect at my appointment?

This is an opportunity to talk about any concerns you have. We will review your family health history and sometimes we may need to gather more information and arrange further tests.

Every appointment is different but common services we provide include:

  • Education
  • An opportunity to ask questions.
  • An assessment of risk of developing a condition or health conditions as a result.
  • Advice as to whether genetic testing may be an option.
  • Recommendations for screening and minimising your risk.
  • Support and counselling for those who are identified as at risk or diagnosed with a genetic condition.

Appointments may take up to one hour and you may need more than one appointment. You are also welcome to bring a family member or another support person to your appointment.


What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing can be used to assess your chance of developing or passing on a genetic condition or confirm/rule out a suspected genetic condition. Testing is only possible in some families and must start with a relative who might be affected. It’s not always possible to detect a gene fault in the family.

If a gene fault is found, testing can be offered to other family members to help assess their risk of developing the condition.

Genetic counselling is required before and after testing and is an opportunity for you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Genetic testing involves a blood test to analyse your DNA. No other invasive procedures are required.


Interpreters and languages other than English

Interpreters are available for your appointment. If English is not your first language and you require an interpreter, let us know before your first appointment.

The Familial Cancer Registry

The Familial Cancer Registry is for people at risk of inherited cancer or tumour syndromes. The registry can provide clients with information, surveillance reminders and contact for support services.

People who will benefit from joining the registry are those from families with a history of cancer. You may be referred by your doctor, the Familial Cancer Program at GSWA, a relative or you may refer yourself. You will be asked to sign a consent form allowing the collection of relevant medical records.

Your information is stored on a secure database and will only be made available to your nominated doctor. You may remove your name from the database at any time.


More information

Familial Cancer Registry (PDF)

Last Updated: 17/12/2021