The Victorian Greens have unveiled their bold plan to make contraception free across the state, in an effort to remove the cost barriers faced by young people struggling to keep up with the rising cost-of-living.
Under the plan, contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and hormonal implants (like Implanon) currently on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme would be subsidised by the state to reduce the out of pocket co-payment to zero.
The plan would cost Victoria $10 million dollars over the forward estimates, according to a costing prepared by the Parliamentary Budget Office.
The costing was prepared just before the recent federal budget cut the maximum co-payment from $42.50 to $30, meaning it would likely cost less now.
The Greens’ also want to invest a further $11.5 million dollars over the next four years, which would go towards:
- $2 million dollars for free condoms to be made available at secondary schools.
- $8 million dollars subsidising IUD insertion fees charged in general practice, to encourage more GPs to offer this service. Subsidies would be $200.
- $1.5 million dollars to increase access for migrant women to sexual health, contraception, antenatal care and health education.
Most GPs do not insert IUDs, as the Medicare rebate is insufficient to cover the necessary time and cost.
This is despite the fact that contraception experts believe IUDs and implants are much more effective and only need to be replaced every few years.
The Greens have previously announced an election plan to introduce five days of ‘reproductive health and wellbeing’ leave for public sector employees in Victoria.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens health spokesperson, Dr Tim Read:
“Young people should be able to take charge of their reproductive and sexual health, yet too many are understandably deterred by the prohibitive costs.
“Subsidising the cost of contraception and making condoms available at secondary schools for free is a cheap and effective way of empowering young Victorians to look after their health, and the health of others.
“This is a minimal expense for the state for a great social benefit.”
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens Pascoe Vale candidate, Angelica Panopoulos:
“Women shouldn’t be forced to skimp on contraception because their rent has gone up.
“And the most effective contraceptive choices shouldn’t just be for those who can afford it.
“The Greens want to make contraception free in Victoria so that young people can access things like the pill and condoms where they need it, when they need it.”