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Women – Reproductive Health

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 23 November 2020

Tags: Reproductive Health, Women

Ms O'CONNOR - I listened really carefully to your answer and you clearly do feel very strongly about the right of women to access safe, legal reproductive services. I couldn't discern from your answer where that left the commitment to a stand-alone service. Do you have some information you can provide on that? Is it possible to draw on your knowledge from the Health portfolio as well as talk about access?

Ms COURTNEY - I have regular discussions with the department about this. Regular engagement is undertaken at senior levels in the department with providers to ensure that women can access the services and support they need. The information around services is challenging. That's an important area for us to do work in.

This year has thrown extraordinary challenges on the health system with regards to provision and services. Throughout COVID-19 termination services were categorised as urgent or category one urgent services so they were able to continue throughout COVID-19 and that's important. We continue to engage in ways that we can improve further access. I acknowledge that for women, particularly in regional areas or areas where services aren't provided, it can be a challenge. That's why we continue to provide the support for women to be able to get to the service as well as having the service that they need. We'll continue to work with providers and see how we can further strengthen that.

Ms O'CONNOR - I'm still not clear about whether there will end up being a stand-alone service, or if we'll end up with an amalgam of the available services under the one service envelope. As Ms O'Byrne was saying, there are some private providers who provide a service. Is there going to be a stand-alone facility, do you think?

Ms COURTNEY - I can't provide the committee with advice on what the service provision might look like. We continue to have conversations with providers in different areas around the state. Having access to terminations, both the surgical and medical, and access to support is important for people in different locations. We are a regionally dispersed place. It is also really important that we have the support mechanisms to support women pre and post. We're working hard to also make sure - in terms of provision of information more broadly - that we have strong pipelines of information with GPs on referral pathways as well. That's really important, to make sure that GPs feel empowered, that they've got the information to be able to provide women. We're continuing to do work in this space.

Without the deputy secretary that I'm thinking of sitting beside me to provide any further information, I can't at the moment. It is an area I feel strongly about. It's important for women to be able to have access to services, have the support, and, as I said at the beginning, have the information and be able to find the information in a way that's easily accessible and digestible in what can be an extraordinarily traumatic and stressful period. We know there are a range of different circumstances that women are in and the range of circumstances is extraordinarily broad. To try to typecast them would be incorrect and would be disrespectful but it's important that we've got those mechanisms to support them.