What is genetic counselling?

Genetic counselling is one of the rarest jobs in Australia – with only 230 employed nationwide.

It is a rapidly evolving, dynamic allied health profession.

Genetic counsellors work in many areas of healthcare, including paediatrics, family planning, infertility, neurology, cancer and cardiology. Many work directly with patients in various healthcare settings, while others do research or work in education, public health or in industry settings.

Genetic Counsellors have specialised training in genetics and counselling and play a vital role in helping individuals and families understand the impact of genetic disease. Genetic counsellors can provide support and guidance around whether genetic testing is right for individuals and couples, and can help support them through a new diagnosis, aid in communicating information to family members and help them understand the complex world of genetics.

Victorian Clinical Genetic Services (VCGS) provide genetic diagnosis, counselling and/or testing to thousands of families throughout Victoria and Australia. Genetic counsellors are a key part of the team.

Our genetic counsellors help people by:

  • assisting with decision-making about whether to have a genetic test and what test/s to have

  • waiting for the results, understanding the meaning of the results and adjusting to the results

  • providing supportive counselling to families

  • arranging referrals to other health professionals

  • and linking families with community support services.

What are the benefits of seeing a genetic counsellor?

When it comes to genetic health, genetic counsellors can give personalised help. They can work alongside individuals, couples, families and their doctors to help make sense of complex genetic information and give support when making informed decisions. Genetic counsellors can also assist individuals and their families in managing their genetic health information and adapting to a diagnosis of a genetic condition.

Interested in being a genetic counsellor?

Entry into the field of genetic counselling requires completion of a Master of Genetic Counselling course. There are two courses run in Australia, one at The University of Melbourne and the other at University Technology Sydney. Both are two year courses that are developed and delivered by experienced genetic counsellors, scientists and clinicians.

Read more about The University of Melbourne’s Master of Genetic Counselling

Read more about University Technology Sydney's Master of Genetic Counselling