The Senate Community Affairs References Committee handed down its Report from the Inquiry into Universal Access to Reproductive Healthcare yesterday afternoon – 25 May 2023.
Women’s Health Matters (WHM) welcomes the report as a first step toward universal access to reproductive health care, including abortion care.
WHM CEO Lauren Anthes called the report a roadmap for implementing the Australian Government’s priorities in the National Women’s Health Strategy.
The inquiry highlighted the many the barriers to abortion access, including cost, the capacity of the health workforce, the complexity of funding through the Medicare Benefits Schedule system, and the information available women and people with uteruses.
We welcome the recommendation for a national telephone service to help women and people with uteruses find the information and services they need. This is something we’re lacking in the ACT, and which we recommended in our submission.
We’re particularly pleased to see recommendations that the Government commissions research and explore policy options around the impact of reproductive health on women’s participation in the workforce, and adequacy of leave under the National Employment Standards. This is something we recommended in our submission, and that we’ve been advocating for in the ACT.
Last year, we launched a Reproductive Health Policy to encourage other organisations and businesses to use as a template.
Our recent ACT Inquiry into abortion access and reproductive choice recommended the exploration of reproductive leave by the ACT Government.
Reproductive leave supports employees in their ability to adequately self-care in relation to their reproductive health, including menstruation, menopause, fertility care, pregnancy, miscarriage, and termination of pregnancy, while not being penalised by having to deplete their sick leave. It is important to acknowledge that reproductive health is not a sickness. Reproductive leave also seeks to remove the stigma and taboo surrounding reproductive health.
It’s exciting to see support for reproductive leave growing among our colleagues and government.