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Tuesday, 7 December 2004
Page: 41

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (3:01 PM) —I have some further information in response to a question asked by Senator Allison on 2 December in relation to overseas aid funds and family planning activities. I seek leave to have the answer incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows—

Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs upon notice on 2 December 2004:

Why does the government prohibit the use of overseas aid funds for training people in delivering safe abortions?

What is the rationale for limiting the contraceptives that can be purchased using our overseas aid funds to those that are registered in Australia?

Senator Hill—The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided me with the following information in response to the Honourable Senator's question.

Australian support for family planning activities is based on the principle of voluntarism agreed at the International Conference on Population and Development (IPCD) in Cairo in 1994, and reaffirmed at IPCD+5 in 1999 and at IPCD+10 in May 2004.

The use of the aid budget for family planning activities is governed by the Guiding Principles for Australian Assistance for Family Planning Activities, reflecting the consensus reached at Cairo and IPCD+5 and ICPD+l0.

These Guiding Principles emphasise freedom of choice and non-coercion. The four Guiding Principles are:

Individuals should decide freely the number and spacing of their children and have the information and means to exercise this choice;

Women and men should have access to the widest possible range of safe and effective family planning methods and should participate fully in defining the family planning services they need;

Family planning programs should cater for all people who may be sexually active; and

Australia's assistance should actively work towards improving the quality of care in family planning programs.

In addition to the four Guiding Principles, the Government has two specific criteria in relation to supporting family planning activities through the aid program:

Australian aid funds are not available for activities that involve abortion training or services, or research trials or activities, which directly involve abortion drugs.

The Government seeks to support activities that provide information and access to safe, voluntary and affordable family planning options. The Government does not consider abortion to be a method of family planning; therefore information that promotes abortion as a method of family planning or provides instructions on abortion procedures is not eligible for Australian aid funding. However, Australia-funded activities can provide medical treatment, support and counselling to women suffering from complications resulting from an unsafe abortion. In addition, Australian aid funds can be used to provide information on unsafe abortion as an issue relevant to promoting responsible family planning.

Australian aid funds can only be used to purchase monthly cycle oral contraceptive pills; emergency contraceptive pills, barrier methods (including condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps), Depo Provera (three monthly injectable), Copper T and Multiload IUDs and Implanon (hormonal implant).

The Government restricts the purchase of contraceptives with Australian aid funds to those contraceptives which are registered in Australia. In the cases of monthly cycle oral contraceptive pills, emergency contraceptive pills and condoms, it is not necessary that the particular brand or formula be registered in Australia. Australian aid funds can be used to provide information and training on a range of contraceptives used in project areas, including those not registered in Australia (for example, Norplant).

The rationale for limiting contraceptives that can be purchased using our overseas aid funds to those that are registered in Australia is based on safety. By using contraceptives that are registered in Australia, we are assured that the contraceptives meet a world class standard and quality and that, therefore, will be safe and effective. It would be remiss of Australia to deliver anything less to our partner countries.