Young people between the ages of 12 and 18, may be required to have a DNA paternity test against their wishes, as a result of a new Australian government proposal.
The proposal comes in a recent government response to a 2003 report on protection of human genetic information.
A report by the Australian Law Reform Commission and the National Health and Medical Research Council's Australian Health Ethics Committee recommended nearly three years ago that the government bring in laws giving young people, deemed to have sufficient maturity, the choice of saying 'no' to a paternity test.
"It was an empowering provision in terms of giving a children a voice in these proceedings," says Professor Margaret Otlowski of the University of Tasmania, an expert on legal aspects of genetics.
"It's all very well for parents to consent but if we've got a mature minor, 12 and up, with views about what they want, their consent should be sought as well."
But the government has rejected this recommendation saying it would be inconsistent with the Family Law Act.
Otlowski says while one would normally expect the court to take the child's wishes into consideration, it may make a ruling against a child who doesn't want a blood sample taken or the issue of paternity dealt with.
"A 15 year old child could be compelled to be tested because a court thought it was in their best interest," says Otlowski.