31 May 2023
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne
Rachel Payne MLC – South-Eastern Metropolitan Region (262)
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health, Minister Thomas. There was good news for women and gender-diverse people in this year’s budget, particularly in women’s health. We welcomed the government’s announcement of $58 million for 20 new comprehensive women’s health clinics and a dedicated Aboriginal-led women’s clinic. The proposed clinics will be located throughout Victoria in areas where there is a real lack of specialist health care for women. This is so important, as we know that distance can be a huge impediment to people accessing proper health care. So it was disappointing to learn that one of the proposed clinics will be located within the Mercy hospital in Werribee.
As a publicly funded hospital, the Mercy should be providing a full range of obstetrics, neonatal and gynaecological care. However, women and gender-diverse people attending the Mercy cannot obtain contraception, abortion or family planning advice because the Mercy is Catholic run. This institutional discrimination against women and gender-diverse people happens at Catholic-run hospitals across Victoria. This is simply wrong. A public hospital should not be refusing ordinary public health services. If you live in Werribee, you are out of luck. There is no other public women’s hospital in the area and no other options for women and gender-diverse people zoned for this hospital. So the action I seek is that the minister consider relocating the women’s health clinic to the Point Cook Medical Centre or another location within the Werribee district so that women and gender-diverse people in this region are able to access the full range of reproductive health services.
Received: 3 October 2023
Hon Mary-Anne Thomas MP
(Minister for Health, Minister for Health Infrastructure, Minister for Ambulance Services)
The Allan Labor government is committed to ensuring access and provision of women’s health services in Victoria.
As part of our $153 million transformational women’s health package, we are delivering almost $58 million investment for 20 new women’s health clinics and $5.3 million for a mobile clinic to provide women across Victoria, with support and treatment for a range of conditions including endometriosis, pelvic pain, polycystic ovary syndrome and complex symptoms of menopause. To support Victoria’s First Nations women, the government is also investing in an Aboriginal-led service to provide more tailored support.
The government is also investing $6.4 million to establish a further nine sexual and reproductive hubs to provide more women with access to contraception, medical termination of pregnancy and sexual health testing and treatment. This will bring our state-wide network of hubs up to 20 across the state.
All public health services in Victoria, including denominational services, are funded under the same obligations and expectations, set out as part of the Health Services Act 1988 and under the National Health Reform Agreement. In Victoria, health professionals who hold conscientious objections, are obligated to refer people to appropriate services if they are unable to provide a service.