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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Page: 1632

Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing, upon notice, on 12 February 2008:

(1)   Is the Minister aware of plans by the United Kingdom’s Department of Health to pilot a scheme which involves the training of pharmacists to prescribe the contraceptive pill in the same way that a general practitioner would, in order to improve access to contraception and reduce unplanned pregnancies?

(2)   What data is available on the relationship between contraceptive use and the rate of unintended pregnancy in Australia?

(3)   Does data available to the Government suggest that the requirement to obtain a prescription for the contraceptive pill and/or limited access to general practitioners is a factor in reducing contraceptive usage rates?

(4)   What steps, if any, does the Government propose to take to improve knowledge about, and use of, all methods of contraception?

Senator Ludwig (Minister for Human Services) —The Minister for Health and Ageing has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   There is very little data available in this area. Marie Stopes International has recently released a report: Real Choices: Women, contraception and unplanned pregnancy. This document reports on the outcomes of a survey of Australian women aged 18 to 40 years and over who responded to a web-based questionnaire.

(3)   The available data do not allow any views to be formed in relation to this issue.

(4)   The delivery of sexual and reproductive health activities including education is primarily undertaken by the states and territories. The Commonwealth supports these activities through the Public Health Outcome Funding Agreements. The Commonwealth also provides funding to six organisations for sexual and reproductive health activities and to the National Pregnancy Support Helpline. The Commonwealth Government’s commitment to the development of a new women’s health policy will also provide an opportunity to explore the health needs of Australian women.