Affordable, safe and accessible abortion, maternity services, contraception and sexual healthcare - no matter where you live

Despite being legal, access to abortion, maternity services, contraception and sexual healthcare, remains a postcode lottery in Australia – a sobering fact confirmed by the release of the report from the Greens-initiated Universal access to reproductive healthcare senate inquiry.

If implemented, the recommendations of the report would make great strides in improving access to reproductive and sexual healthcare for everyone, so the Greens will keep up the pressure to get them implemented immediately.

The Greens believe reproductive healthcare should be accessible, affordable, safe, legal, compassionate, and free of stigma, no matter who you are or where you live.

Access to safe, affordable and timely abortion

The message we heard loud and clear throughout the inquiry was that people faced with an unintended pregnancy should have access to safe, affordable and timely abortion.

Key recommendations:

  • Ensuring all public hospitals are equipped to provide surgical abortion, or have referral pathways to other affordable local providers.
  • A national hotline to provide a single touchpoint for people to find the abortion, contraception or pregnancy advice service they need.
  • Reviewing Medicare rebates for medical terminations
  • Continuing telehealth appointments for sexual and reproductive healthcare
  • Removing barriers for registered midwives, nurse practitioners, and Aboriginal Health Workers prescribing medical abortions  
  • Ensuring training for doctors, nurses and midwives includes inclusive sexual and reproductive healthcare 

Contraceptive options for every body

Access to a full range of effective contraceptive options is critical for people to have control over their reproductive decisions.  Lack of information, and the high costs of many contraceptives are a key barrier, and this is particularly true for young people. 

Key recommendations:

  • Making contraceptives more affordable, including making more types available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, subsidising the copper IUD and reviewing Medicare rebates for prescribing contraceptives
  • Increasing uptake of Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) by increasing awareness of their benefits, making them more affordable, and training more practitioners to insert them 
  • Reviewing Therapeutic Goods Association approval processes to get more contraceptives approved, faster
  • Expanding the role of nurses, midwives, and pharmacists in prescribing contraceptives
  • Funding contraceptive options advice appointments through Medicare 
  • More investment for research into male contraceptive options

Better birthing experiences

Regardless of where you live in Australia, you should have local access to high quality, inclusive, culturally safe and affordable maternity care. 

Key recommendations:

  • Ensuring maternity care services, including birthing services, are available at all public hospitals - including in rural and regional areas
  • Increasing birthing on country initiatives for First Nations people
  • Implementing outstanding recommendations for extending Medicare support for midwifery services and continuity of care

Reproductive rights for all

There is no one-size-fits all approach to maternal, reproductive and sexual healthcare. Too many culturally and linguistically diverse people, LGBTIQA+ people, disabled people and First Nations people are not able to access the healthcare that works for them.

Key recommendations:

  • Increasing access to maternal, sexual and reproductive healthcare for people who aren’t eligible for Medicare
  • Expanding the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) sexual and reproductive health workforce 
  • Ensuring the 10-year National Action Plan for the Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ people includes sexual and reproductive healthcare and consent to surgical interventions for people with innate variations of sex characteristics 
  • Research into reproductive coercion and guidelines for practitioners 
  • Targeted, accessible and inclusive sexual and reproductive health education programs for young disabled people
  • Making IVF for altruistic surrogacy arrangements more affordable, including for same sex parents 
  • Research into reproductive health leave

Inclusive sex and consent education

The inquiry heard that sexual health and consent education in Australia is often ‘too little, too late, too straight’. Ensuring sex and consent education is age-appropriate, evidence-based, culturally sensitive and accessible means everyone can enjoy safe sex, healthy relationships, and better understand their bodies.

Key recommendations:

  • Supporting educators to deliver high quality sexual health and relationships education in schools
  • Targeted, community-led sexual health literacy campaigns for:
    • LGBTIQA+ communities, 
    • First Nations communities,
    • Culturally and linguistically diverse groups,
    • Disabled people 

National data collection and reporting

Good public policy relies on good public data. But currently, we don’t know enough about the gaps in sexual, maternity and reproductive healthcare to target funding and reforms where they are most needed. 

Key recommendations:

  • Improving the scope, rigour and availability of data regarding maternity, sexual and reproductive healthcare (while protecting privacy)
  • Monitoring and reporting on Implementation of the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020–2030 

What's next?

This inquiry has revealed the scale of work needed to achieve universal access to high quality maternal, sexual and reproductive healthcare.

In addition to the work set out in the recommendations, the Greens will continue to call for:

  • Free contraception for all
  • Harmonising abortion laws across Australia, to best practice
  • No out of pocket costs for abortion
  • Removing legal barriers for IVF and surrogacy
  • Free period products
  • Increasing research and investment into a range of sexual and reproductive healthcare, including menopause, endometriosis, infertility and menstrual pain management

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