The Government of Australia has announced an investment of over A$160m ($106m) in a women’s health package designed to combat gender bias in healthcare, enhance skills of medical professionals, and improve access to sexual and reproductive care.  

This funding is part of the 2024-25 Budget and aims to address the health needs of women across all life stages. 

A substantial portion of the investment, A$5.2m, is earmarked for scholarships and travel subsidies to enable healthcare workers, including nurses, doctors, and midwives, to receive training in the insertion and elimination of the Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC).  

For establishing an online tool to aid women and health practitioners in making informed decisions about contraception, A$1.1m has been allocated. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has been granted A$5.5m to establish a comprehensive national sexual and reproductive health dataset.  

This initiative will facilitate the identification of evolving healthcare needs of women, assess the equity of care provided, and pinpoint demographic groups that may require additional support. 

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The government also plans to make permanent the temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) telehealth items for blood borne viruses and sexual and reproductive health, to further enhance care accessibility, especially for women in regional and remote areas.  

In line with the Continuous Medicare review, the government will conduct a gender audit of the MBS, focusing on LARC procedures and gender disparities in diagnostic imaging MBS items. 

As part of the latest investment, nurse practitioners will also gain the authority to refer women for ultrasound services under Medicare, supporting the MS-2 Step medical abortion programme.  

The ‘Health in My Language’ programme will receive A$5.6m to help culturally and linguistically diverse communities overcome barriers to sexual and reproductive healthcare. 

An additional A$1.2m will be invested to improve menopause treatments by expanding training for healthcare professionals.  

These measures are in concert with the objectives of the National Women’s Health Strategy, the recommendations of the Women’s Health Advisory Council, and Senate inquiry into universal access to reproductive healthcare.  

Australian Health and Aged Care Assistant Minister Ged Kearney said: “We want to see more women to have a better understanding for contraception as well as better access to long-acting reversible contraception.”