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GREENS NSW POLICY INITIATIVE: REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE FOR ALL

Reproductive health care is health care.  

Everyone deserves access to free, safe sexual and reproductive health care.

Reproductive health care - including contraception and fertility treatment, maternity care and abortion, menopause care and gender affirming care - are essential components of comprehensive health care.  The Greens are committed to this essential care being available across NSW - no matter your postcode or your income.  We affirm every person’s right to make their own reproductive health choices.

To achieve this, the Greens will ensure access to free and safe sexual and reproductive healthcare, ensure agency and continuity for patients in maternal and birthing services, promote Birthing on Country and other culturally safe programs, and properly fund women’s health centres.

THE GREENS WILL:

  • Provide parents with support from a known midwife (and backup midwife) throughout their pregnancy and birth.
  • Replace the inefficient BirthRate Plus staffing model for midwives with safe midwife staffing ratios and give midwives a 15% pay rise.
  • Improve access to contraception, fertility treatment, abortion, and menopause care through the public health system.
  • Provide free period products in all public toilets and schools.
  • Deliver additional funding of $150 million over 5 years to Women’s Health Centres across the state.

IT’S HARD TO ACCESS REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE 

We’ve heard loud and clear that it can be hard to access the care you need. The most effective forms of contraception cost from $40 to hundreds of dollars out of pocket, and aren’t available in rural and remote communities. First Nations people have been forced to choose between birthing on country or birthing with the safety of midwife care. Fertility treatment is hard to find in the public system and costs thousands of dollars upfront. People are still travelling interstate for abortion, even though it was decriminalised in NSW in 2019. During the debate regarding this historic and long overdue reform, experts and advocates made it clear that efforts to improve services and access were as critical as legislative change, but 4 years later this still hasn’t been addressed.

ACCESS TO MIDWIFERY CARE 

Every person in NSW should be able to access high quality health care during pregnancy, delivery, and after the birth of their baby. But thanks to the massive pressures placed on our public health system by successive Labor and Liberal-National governments, too many people across NSW don’t have the birthing experience they were hoping for - from feeling excluded from decision-making to experiencing unwanted medical interventions.

The Greens will make sure birthing parents and infants are continuously supported during pregnancy, and during and after birth, by a known primary and backup midwife by implementing the midwifery ‘continuity of care’ model throughout NSW.  This was a recommendation of the recent Rural Health Inquiry.

We will tackle the widespread shortage of midwives in NSW by introducing safe midwife staffing ratios of at least one midwife to three patients including babies. And, as part of our package to look after our healthcare workers, we would end the public sector wage cap and give midwives working in the NSW public health sector a 15% pay rise plus 2% above inflation for the next 4 years.

We will increase resourcing and support for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and Birthing on Country programs, for example Waminda in the Shoalhaven, and the training and employment of First Nations health professionals.

And, for people who do need to travel to access care, we’ll expand the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme to cover the full costs of travel upfront, to include a support person and to get patients back home after they are discharged.

SAFE, FREE, ACCESSIBLE ABORTION

Even though it was decriminalised in NSW in 2019, distance and cost are still huge barriers for people who need an abortion.

The Greens will make sure surgical abortion is available at every public hospital in NSW by making this a requirement of funding agreements with the state government.

Only 10% of GPs are currently registered prescribers of medical abortion.  We will fund training and support for GPs so that medical abortion is available from your local GP.

It can be hard to find safe and affordable contraception and abortion. So that no one has to bounce from service to service to find appropriate care, we’ll create a public searchable directory of contraception and abortion services across the state, like the “1800 My Options” program in Victoria.

ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE

Reproductive health care - including contraception and fertility treatment, birthing care, abortion, and menopause care - are essential components of comprehensive health care, and should be available through local public hospitals and primary care clinics.

We know that it’s getting harder and more expensive to see a GP - the Greens have committed to opening public primary care services where you can see a GP and allied health professionals for free. The Greens have a comprehensive plan for ensuring everyone in our state has access to the healthcare they need. In the meantime, we’ll increase funding for Family Planning NSW to support areas where there are gaps in reproductive health services.

Women’s Health Centres are the preferred model of care for many women, providing integrated physical and mental health and wellbeing services and women's safety and empowerment services across NSW.

The Greens would deliver the extra $30 million per year that Women’s Health Centres need to, not only sustainably continue to deliver their services, but to expand and enhance their activities and service levels to address population growth, unmet needs and emerging local health issues.

Fertility treatment can be extraordinarily expensive to access in the private sector, with upfront costs in the thousands despite current government partial rebates.  The Greens believe fertility services should be available in the public system.

ACCESS TO GENDER AFFIRMING HEALTH CARE

The Greens believe that gender affirming health care should be available within mainstream health services.  We will fund training and support for GPs to increase the number of providers of gender affirming care, as well as programs to improve accessibility and safety of public hospital services for trans and gender diverse people.

The Greens recognise the expertise of specialist LGBTQIA+ health services and support additional resourcing to increase direct service provision in the short term, particularly to regional and rural areas, and for longer term research, education and quality improvement programs.

FREE PERIOD PRODUCTS IN ALL PUBLIC TOILETS AND SCHOOLS 

It is unacceptable that more than one in five people who menstruate in Australia have been forced to use toilet paper, socks or other improvised period products.

Free period products are finally being rolled out in public schools in NSW after a pilot program showed a positive impact on educational engagement and attainment.

Scotland and the ACT are going one step further - with access to free period products for everyone who needs them.

The Greens would support local councils across NSW to provide period product dispensers in all public toilets.

HOW THE GREENS HAVE BEEN FIGHTING FOR YOU 

In the NSW parliament, it was the Greens who:

  • Introduced the first bill to decriminalise abortion in 2017. We were co-sponsors of the Bill that finally decriminalised abortion in 2019
  • Had 100% of our MPs vote in favour of decriminalising abortion and remain a proudly pro-choice party.
  • Successfully campaigned for free period products in public schools, pushing the NSW government to roll out a trial across 31 schools.
  • Have been fighting alongside the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association for safe staffing ratios and have fought to end wage caps for healthcare workers in the public sector.
  • Continually stand up and speak out in support of trans and gender diverse communities when they are subjected to hateful and discriminatory attacks.
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