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AUSTRALIAN STORY revisits sperm donor campaigner Lauren Burns

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Lauren Burns fought tooth and nail to find her anonymous sperm donor father. 

She was then instrumental in campaigning for world-first retrospective legislation to give all donor-conceived children the right to identify their donor, irrespective of anonymity promises made in the past.  

Now, seven years after Australian Story first profiled Lauren, she is back campaigning again, fearing that the achievements she and other donor-conceived children made are being wound back by the Victorian government.

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At age 21, Lauren Burns learnt the man she called her father was not her biological dad.

It took years of research to find her sperm donor. A big stumbling block was that existing laws did not allow people conceived before 1988 to access details about their donor.

“For five years of my life, I didn’t know who I was” – Lauren Burns.

Lauren has since gone on to forge a meaningful relationship with her biological family. 


When the rights of all donor-conceived people were formally recognised in the Victorian parliament in 2016, Lauren felt she could retire from advocacy and move on with life.

But just as she becomes a parent herself, she is haunted by the past.

Faced with a critical shortage of sperm donors, the Victorian government is under pressure to make donations more accessible, allowing overseas donations.

Donor-conceived children like Lauren fear the changes will make it more difficult for the next generation to find their biological family members.  

“What we’re potentially facing is just repeating the mistakes of the past. We know enough now to prevent this, that it shouldn’t have to happen again” –  Lauren Burns

In this update of our 2014 Walkley Award-winning story, Australian Story revisits Lauren as she re-enters the fray, this time in the name of children yet to be born.  

AUSTRALIAN STORY – Monday 15 November at 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview. 

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