Sarah Jefford is honoured to be awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia, for services to the law, her work with the surrogacy community and for leading the change for surrogacy in Australia.

Sarah is a family creation lawyer, practising in surrogacy and donor conception across Australia. She was an IVF mum, and became an egg donor and a surrogate, delivering a baby for two dads in 2018. Sarah produced the Australian Surrogacy Podcast, sharing 100 stories from surrogates and intended parents across Australia, and authored a book, More Than Just a Baby, a guide to surrogacy for intended parents and surrogates.

The Order of Australia recognises Australians who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement. The Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) is awarded for service worthy of particular recognition.

26 January is not a day for celebration and marks the beginning of invasion, dispossession and genocide of First Nations people. Sarah acknowledges that sovereignty was never ceded and that the Order of Australia was established by colonialist structures. Sarah acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, in particular the Wurundjeri people where she and her family live in Naarm and pays respect to the elders past, and present. Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land.

Sarah has contributed to law reform for surrogacy and donor conception in Victoria, Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia and continues to advocate for federal law reform and uniform surrogacy laws.

Sarah also runs Surrogacy Sisterhood Retreats, providing a supportive space for surrogates to build a community of women around them.

“The last 7 years have been an honour and a privilege. The surrogacy community shares in this award, for trusting me with their stories and supporting the drive for change. I am delighted to receive this honour and for my advocacy to be recognised by the broader community.”

The surrogacy and fertility industry often exploits surrogates and intended parents for monetary gain, without a thought for the welfare of the child or the surrogate.

Trusting the lived experience of the community is essential. Sarah has reframed the conversation to focus on the best interests of the child, the autonomy of the surrogate and to support intended parents and surrogates to have a positive experience as they grow their families.

“We’ve come a long way in the surrogacy community, contributing and framing the conversation. Our experiences as surrogates, donors, parents and persons born are crucial for the community to understand the complexity of surrogacy and our connections with each other.”

There is still work to be done.

“We need to fix Australian surrogacy laws to make it easier and more accessible to do surrogacy here. More Australian babies are born via overseas surrogacy each year than are born in Australia. By overhauling our surrogacy laws, we can regulate surrogacy and donor conception and ensure the surrogate and baby can access our world-class health system. And we can make sure the child’s parentage is recognised under Australian law. The children deserve that.

Medicare rebates are not available for fertility treatments associated with surrogacy. This discriminates against anyone who enters a surrogacy arrangement.

Gay couples and single men still cannot enter a surrogacy arrangement in Western Australia, in breach of the Sex Discrimination Act.

We have no uniformity between the state surrogacy laws, resulting in a postcode lottery for anyone entering a surrogacy arrangement.

It’s time to reform our laws to support surrogacy in Australia, in the interests of the children born and the women who choose to be surrogates.”

Sarah would like to thank the surrogacy community for their support and trust over the years, and a particular and heartfelt thank you to the amazing people who nominated her for the award.

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