For genetic counsellors, each day is different. They work with specialist health professionals to order genetic tests, interpret clinical genetic reports and help individuals, couples and families understand their genetic make-up.

At the heart everything they do is their client and their role as a translator. Genetic counsellors work between doctors and the families to simplify complex medical information into meaningful messages.

Genetic counsellors provide information, support and guidance to patients about genetic testing and genetic conditions, including inherited disorders. Counsellors work to promote informed choices in view of risk assessment, family goals, ethical and religious values.

Ivan Macciocca is the Principal Genetic Counsellor at Victorian Clinical Genetic Services (VCGS), part of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

“Genetics is very complicated. Genes are the instructions for life, but not many people really understand how they are passed on from parents to children, and how they affect health and disease. Genetic counsellors are trained specialists who talk and listen to individuals and families, help communicate complex genetic information and help facilitate decision making in a supportive environment” said Ivan.

Ivan and his collaborative team at VCGS are dedicated to their patients and families.

“I enjoy establishing meaningful relationships with the individuals I meet and their families. I hope that in some small way, I might be able to contribute to them being more engaged and empowered with their medical genetics experience” said Sam Ayres, a Certified Genetic Counsellor at VCGS.

Meet Sam, Elly and Lynch on Twitter, and learn more about the impact of their work and their passion for their job.

Today, 12 November, is Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day, an internationally and locally celebrated day which aims to raise awareness and interest about genetic counselling and the valuable role genetic counsellors play in health care.

Genetic counselling is a rapidly evolving, dynamic allied health profession. Genetic counsellors work in many areas of healthcare, including cancer, pregnancy, cardiology, neurology, infertility, paediatric and adult medicine. 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 are also at times called on to explain the results of tests to medical specialists and doctors, who work outside the area of genetics.

Last year the Australian Society of Genetic Counsellors (ASGC) celebrated 25 years of genetic counselling in Australasia, which is a great testament to its development and role within our health care system.

“Genetic Counsellor Awareness Day is all about raising awareness of Genetic Counsellors and how they may help people in our community,” said Laura Yeates, Chairperson of the ASGC.

About the ASGC

The Australian Society of Genetic Counsellors (ASGC), a special interest group of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (HGSA) reports around 220 currently working genetic counsellors in various roles in Australia and New Zealand. You can find the contact information for your local clinical genetics services by following this link: https://www.hgsa.org.au/resources/genetic-counselling/register-of-genetic-counsellors.