Experts call for immediate action from Senate reproductive healthcare inquiry

The SPHERE Coalition, chaired by Monash University’s SPHERE Centre of Research Excellence, has called for immediate action to implement the recommendations made by the Senate Community Affairs References Committee (The Committee), following the Senate inquiry into universal access to reproductive healthcare.

The SPHERE Coalition, which encompasses over 150 clinician experts, consumers, representatives from peak bodies and key stakeholder organisations, has set out specific actions required to implement the Senate Committee’s recommendations in relation to increasing access to care, affordability, supporting and training the healthcare workforce, and improving public awareness and education. Importantly they have identified the agents responsible for implementing these actions.

Professor Danielle Mazza, Chief Investigator and Director of the SPHERE Centre of Research Excellence in women’s sexual and reproductive health in primary care, said the Senate Inquiry did a fabulous job setting out a big picture strategy to increase access to reproductive health care.

“Now we need a commitment to a detailed implementation plan to make sure that the recommendations they’ve made actually occur,” Professor Mazza said.

“The concrete steps we have outlined provide the government with a blueprint for implementing the Senate Committee’s recommendations. Each of these strategies have been carefully considered by the key stakeholders, clinician experts and consumers that make up our coalition.”

The SPHERE coalition recommendations include:

Access to care

  • Harmonise abortion legislation across all states and territories
  • Implement regional level planning by Primary Health Networks to develop an integrated regional approach to contraception and abortion care that identifies gaps in local level service provision, and commissions health services to fill those gaps.

Contraception and abortion affordability

  • Provide free contraception and abortion care for all women
  • Continue to provide MBS rebates for telehealth consultations in sexual and reproductive health.

Workforce support, training and capacity building

  • Embed training in abortion and contraception in all relevant healthcare training programs
  • Fund the AusCAPPs Community of Practice to support primary care practitioners to deliver services
  • Provide training incentives to GPs and health practitioners to deliver long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) and medical abortion services in areas of need
  • Develop appropriate funding models to support expanded scope of practice of health practitioners.

Public awareness and education:

  • Improve contraception health literacy among community members, including the development of additional language resources, and develop materials to increase public awareness of medical and surgical abortion care options.

SPHERE Centre of Research Excellence 

SPHERE is the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence in Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health in Primary Care – a collaborative research centre comprising national and international experts in sexual and reproductive health.

The SPHERE Coalition, chaired by SPHERE, is a cross-sectoral, multidisciplinary alliance comprising over 150 clinician experts and consumers, representatives from peak bodies and key stakeholder organisations and eminent Australian and international researchers with a shared vision for improving women’s sexual and reproductive health.

For more information, visit SPHERE

About Monash University

Monash University is Australia’s largest university with more than 80,000 students. In the 60 years since its foundation, it has developed a reputation for world-leading high-impact research, quality teaching, and inspiring innovation.

With four campuses in Australia and a presence in Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia and Italy, it is one of the most internationalised Australian universities.

As a leading international medical research university with the largest medical faculty in Australia and integration with leading Australian teaching hospitals, we consistently rank in the top 50 universities worldwide for clinical, pre-clinical and health sciences.

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