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Australia

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OVERVIEW

In Australia, you can find an incredible amount of health care resources, many of which are progressive and LGBT-friendly. While you'll need a prescription for contraception, the prescription process is rather straight-forward, and you may even be able to get a prescription online. As for emergency contraception, it's fully legal for all ages and no prescription is required. There is access to both PrEP and PEP, and many health centers, both large and small, provide STI/STD testing. Regarding abortions, laws vary from province to province. For example, in Victoria, you can get an abortion for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and if two physicians recommend it, you can even get an abortion after that time. However, this is not the case in other provinces.

Contraception (Birth Control)[edit]

General Note: There are many types of contraceptives, including IUDs, oral contraceptives, patches, shots, and condoms, etc. If you would like to view a full list, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Australia, you will need a prescription from a physician to obtain birth control. However, these consultations are pretty straight-forward and do not typically require pelvic exams. There is an incredibly wide range of contraceptives offered, from hormonal pills to injectables and IUDs, and practically every known contraceptive is available in Australia. It is estimated that 67%-70% of Australian women of fertility age (who are married or in unions) use some form of contraception,[1] without about 24% of Australian women on oral contraceptives.

Note: Australian women who believe they may have been adversely affected by Yaz or Yasmin can register for a potential class action suite: http://tgb.com.au/enquire/class-action/

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • If you want condoms, they're easy to purchase at supermarkets, chemists/pharmacies, convenience stores and petrol stations. If you're looking for free condoms, check out the Ending HIV website, which shows free condom distributors across Australia. Some states also have programs that focus on free condom access for youth (such as the NSW Condom Credit Card (CCC) program). There's also Red Aware: "If you live in Australia, you can receive a free safe sex kit with condoms tin, and awesome safe sex ... Would you like to sign up to receive a free RedAware safe sex kit?"
  • If you're interested in birth control pills, you will need to consult with a physicians for a prescription. You can consult a women's clinic or an NGO, like Marie Stopes Australia, to obtain a prescription. Once you have a prescription, you'll find a wide variety of birth control pills available (over 30 brands registered) in Australia.[2]
  • As for IUDs, you can get them at various clinics and health care facilities, such as Marie Stopes Australia. One female traveler wrote about the Mirena that they got in Australia: "It lasts up to 5 years, needs to be fitted by an OBGYN (some charge to put it in, some don't), costs about $40 to buy the IUD if you have a Medicare card and about $245 if you don't."
  • If you want a contraceptive implant, you can get them at various clinics and health care facilities, such as Marie Stopes Australia. One brand you may find is Implanon.[3]
  • If you want a contraceptive shot/injectable, you can get them at various clinics and health care facilities, such as Marie Stopes Australia. Some brands you can expect to find are Depo-Provera and Depo-Ralovera in Australia.[4]

Costs[edit]

  • For birth control pills, you'll pay $3-6 for a month supply.
  • For condoms, if you're a young person, you should look into the Condom Credit Card, which is "a friendly, confidential way for young people to get FREE condoms! Simply go to a Family Planning NSW clinic or a service that displays the CCCard posters and ask for your own CCCard. Then you can to receive free condoms every time you present your CCCard at a registered provider." For more information about the Condom Credit Card, visit the NSW website or the Aboriginal Medical Services website.
  • For an IUD, costs will vary, depending on whether your health coverage. If you're not covered, you can expect to pay around $100 for the insertion procedure, plus the additional cost of the IUD device (which is around $200 without sedation and around $450 with sedation), at Marie Stopes Australia, as of November 2018.
  • For a contraceptive implant, you can expect to pay around $100 for the insertion procedure, plus the additional cost of the implanted device (around $100), at Marie Stopes Australia, as of November 2018.
  • For a contraceptive shot/injectable, you can expect to pay $90 for the injection and and $30 for necessary medications at Marie Stopes Australia, as of November 2018.
  • One Australian wrote, "I am from Queensland (Gold Coast) and have Medicare so costs might be a bit different. Levlen cost $10-12 ish (for a box of 4 x 28 pills). The Implanon (without Medicare) was about $200 and with Medicare about $30 plus I had to go to a clinic to have a doctor put it in. Average cost of doctor's visit in Australia (without Medicare) is $60-80."
  • Important Tip: If you qualify, you may want to get a Medicare Card and look into Bulk Billing, which is a payment option under Australia's Medicare system. When the health service provider (e.g. doctor) bills the government (via the patient's Medicare card), the provider is paid 85% of the scheduled fee for outpatient services and 75% of the scheduled fee for inpatient services by the government. This allows the service provider to receive a fixed proportion of the scheduled fee and avoid debt collection. And, as a patient, this means you may not be charged anything.

Emergency Contraception (Morning After Pill)[edit]

Important Notes: Emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy for three days (72 hours) and sometimes five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. Take EC as soon as possible after unprotected sex. If you don't have access to dedicated EC, oral contraceptives can be used as replacement EC, but remember the following: 1) Only some contraceptives work as EC 2) Different contraceptives require different dosages and time schedules to work as EC 3) You must only use the first 21 pills in 28-day packs and 4) They may be less effective than dedicated EC. For general information on emergency contraceptives, click here and here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

Emergency contraception is legal and obtainable without a prescription. There are no age restrictions and anyone, no matter their sex, can buy them. EC brands like Plan B or Next Choice can be found in public sector clinics, pharmacies and emergency rooms. The law requires that pharmacists supply EC for therapeutic reasons. This means that, if a pharmacists wants to confirm therapeutic need, he or she may ask questions about your medical history, medical issues and any medications that you're currently taking before issuing EC.

According to the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception, "While community pharmacists are not required by law to ask specific questions prior to supplying LNG-EC in Australia, questioning may occur in practice. The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia supports increased access for young women with no specific restrictions on third party supply and advanced supply. Access can be limited in rural areas if the only pharmacist in town has a conscientious objection to supplying the LNG-ECP and there is no alternative supplier nearby. There are no legal age restrictions for supplying ECPs, but many pharmacists may prefer to refer women under 16 years of age to a doctor rather than provide it themselves over the counter."[5]

There are strict guidelines in Australia, dictated by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, regarding how EC should be sold by local chemists. While most pharmacists/chemists follow these guidelines, studies showed that "pharmacists had stronger, more conservative attitudes than overseas pharmacists"[6] and "22% of pharmacists felt it was reasonable for their religious faith to influence supply."[7] Furthermore, many Australian women report that they don't receive adequate information from pharmacists. As reported by the Conversation in 2015, "...62% of the women we spoke to expressed concern about the lack of privacy. What’s more, many women were confused about this type of pill – some thought it caused an abortion (32%) and others that it would cause defects if they were to fall pregnant later (61%). Only 20% of pharmacists always informed women about how the emergency contraceptive pill worked, while the majority spoke about how long it would remain effective after unprotected sex. Many pharmacists agreed that the pill shouldn’t be supplied if unprotected sex had occurred longer than three days ago."[8]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Note: You can now buy ellaOne in Australia, which is an emergency contraceptive that is effective for up to five days after unprotected sex. Of course, take EC as soon as possible -- but, if it has been a few days since you had unprotected sex, try to find ellaOne. If you can't access ellaOne, copper IUDs may also prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex. If none of these options are available, and it's been over 3 days since you had unprotected sex, you can still take EC, which may work up to 5 days. Note that EC pills are not 100% effective and should be taken as soon as possible.

For dedicated EC, progestin-only, there are Levonelle-1, Norlevo-1 and Postinor 1 (take 1 pill within 120 hours after unprotected sex). There are also Levonelle-2 and Postinor-2 (take 2 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex). If you cannot access dedicated EC, you may use some oral contraceptives as EC. They are Microlut (take 50 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex), Levlen ED, Microgynon 30 ED, Monofeme 28, Nordette 28 (take 4 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 4 more pills 12 hours later), or Loette, Microgynon 20 ED or Microlevlen ED (take 5 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 5 more pills 12 hours later).[9]

As reported by the Conversation: "If a woman had unprotected sex outside of this timeframe, a pharmacist can still supply the emergency contraceptive pill. This supply is called 'off label' as it is outside of the TGA-licensed use. In such cases, pharmacists should inform women about the effectiveness of this emergency contraception beyond three days and document that they supplied it. (Or they could recommend the woman have an intrauterine device (IUD) placed instead. This IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception and can be inserted up to five days after unprotected sex.)"[10]

Costs[edit]

  • It should cost around 15-45 AUD to purchase the emergency contraceptive pill, as of 2018.[11]

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs/STDs)[edit]

Important Notes - Learn about PEP and PrEP: If you think that you've been recently exposed to HIV (i.e. within 72 hours), seek out PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a month-long treatment to prevent HIV infection after exposure, and it may be available in your city. Take PEP as soon as possible. For more information, click here. If you are at risk of HIV exposure, seek out PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). It's a daily oral pill that can prevent HIV infection before exposure. To learn more about PrEP, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

If you are applying for permanent Australian visa, you will be required to take an HIV test. If you are found to be HIV+, this will not automatically disqualify you but it will be included in the criteria used to assess your application.[12]

Testing Facilities[edit]

  • You can get STI/STD tests from most doctors, family planning clinics, or sexual healths clinics in Australia. Check out the city pages, such as Melbourne and Sydney pages, for specific recommendations.
  • HIV self-administered test kits (home HIV test kits) are not sold in individual pharmacies although the kit was actually introduced in Australia in 2014 following the government lifting restrictions of self-testing, direct to consumer kits. But these kits have not yet been approved by the TgA (The Therapeutic Goods Administration which falls under the Department of Health in Australia). Hence, because they have not yet been regulated or approved by the TGA they are currently not legally allowed to be sold or exported. When it comes HIV testing in Australia, the choice is between Rapid HIV testing, which has TGA approval, but is limited to clinical situations and must be carried out by appropriately trained workers and laboratory based tests, which involve a medical blood draw and laboratory analysis of the sample.
  • Check Your Risk - This is NOT a replacement for an STI/STD test. But it is a resource, based out of Australia, that helps you assess your risk
  • There are companies, for example INSTI®, that provide rapid HIV screening testing kits online anywhere in Australia but, in the case of INSTI® the company is Canadian and based in Canada. Positive HIV screening results will require further testing by a laboratory/clinic which can actually diagnose the disease.

Support[edit]

Costs[edit]

Medications & Vaccines[edit]

A pharmacy in Australia

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • For yeast infections, you should be able to buy Canesten in Australia pharmacies or online at Chemist Warehouse. Regarding the HPV vaccine, Australia is incredibly proactive and has vaccination programs in place for both girls and boys. For more info on Australia's HPV vaccination program, check out this link. For most STI/STD medications, you will need to first visit a physician for a prescription, which you can then usually fill at hospitals or pharmacies.
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is available, but the drugs are extremely expensive and require a medical prescription. You can order the drug online as importation is permitted under the Personal Importation Scheme Rules set by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Only a three month supply for personal use is permitted. According to PrEPWatch: "There are three ongoing demonstration projects in Australia—VicPrEP in MSM, transgender women, heterosexual serodiscordant couples and people who received N-PEP on more than two occasions; PRELUDE in men and women at high and ongoing risk of HIV; and EPIC-NSW enrolling high-risk, mostly gay and bisexual men in New South Wales. A fourth demonstration project, PrEPX, will start later this year. The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved daily oral Truvada for HIV prevention."[13]
  • You can be assessed for Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) at sexual health clinics, doctors (including some general practitioners) who specialise in HIV/AIDS, and hospital accident and emergency departments (which are open 24 hours). There are sexual health (MSHC) centres, which are walk-in clinics providing testing and treatment for sexually transmissible infections. For people with a relevant visa, that have applied for permanent residency or are a visitor from a reciprocal health care agreement country, treatment is given for free, if they hold a Medicare card. You can call PEP Information Line (1800 889 887) for more information.

Costs[edit]

Menstruation[edit]

DivaCup, one of the menstrual cups available in Australia

Note: In addition to pads and tampons, you can also use menstrual cups and menstrual underwear for your period. To learn more about menstrual cups, click here. To learn more about menstrual underwear, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Pads and tampons (without applicators) are very easy to find. Aside from being sold in supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores, you can also find them in many bathrooms. You can find tampons with applicators (usually cardboard), like Tampax or Kotex, in major supermarkets and shopping malls. As for menstrual cups, there is one Australian distributor of DivaCup: Barton Brands, Represented By: Lightning Brokers: PO Box 1218, Springwood, Qld 4127, 1-300-884-456, info@biosports.com.au. As for MoonCup, there are no distributors in Australia, it seems, so it should be bought online. As for LadyCup, there are no distributors in Australia, so it's best to buy online or purchase online from an NZ distributor, like Tweedle or Mother's Instinct.

Costs[edit]

Gynecological Exams[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

Costs[edit]

Pregnancy[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • PANDA - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia: "PANDA - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood. PANDA operates Australia’s only National Helpline (Call 1300 726 306) for individuals and their families to recover from perinatal anxiety and depression, a serious illness that affects up to one in five expecting or new mums and one in ten expecting or new dads."

Costs[edit]

Abortion[edit]

Important Note: There are two main types of abortions: medical (also known as the "abortion pill") and surgical (also known as "in-clinic"). For medical abortions, you take a pill to induce abortion. For surgical abortions, a procedure is performed to induce abortion. For general information about medical and surgical abortions, click here.

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

In Australia, abortion laws are determined by state or territory. You can check out this infographic map of the laws, put together by Reproductive Choice Australia, to learn more about the laws for each state.

In the state of Victoria, abortion is permitted for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, it is legal if two physicians agree that it is appropriate. All standard reasons for an abortion are permitted, including: to save the life of the woman, to preserve physical health, to preserve mental health, rape or incest, fetal impairment, economic or social reasons, and available on request. Furthermore, Mifepristone (the abortion pill) was registered in 2012. The abortion laws in Victoria have been in place since the Abortion Law Reform Act (2008). Before that time, the Victorian Crimes Act, abortions were only permitted if the pregnancy threatened the life of health of the woman.[14]

In Queensland, abortion laws changed in 2018, when the state’s parliament voted to legalize abortion upon request.[15]

In the state of New South Wales, abortion is technically a criminal offense. However, it is legally permitted in most scenarios, which include: when there is a medical, social, or economic reason that causes a "serious danger" to a pregnant person's life, or when negative health consequences may be felt by the pregnant person after the birth of the child. These rules are very general and broad, meaning that most people are able to find legal means of obtaining an abortion in New South Wales, even if abortion is technically not fully legal.[16]

Regarding Misoprostol availabilty, Women on Waves reports that "Misoprostol is available as cytotec. We do not have any information how easy it is to get in a phamacy. In 2012, mifepristone and misoprostol were approved for use in termination of pregnancy by our Therapeutic Goods Administration (http://www.tga.gov.au/hp/information-medicines-mifepristone-gymiso.htm). They are only available through medical practitioners, and cannot be purchased over the counter in pharmacies without a prescription. In practice, access will be difficult for women who don’t live geographically near a clinic or practitioner who provides this service (a similar problem for surgical abortion in Australia)."[17]

Abortion facilities are also protected. It is illegal to protect within 150 meters of an abortion service.[18]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

While you consult with your GP for abortion service referrals, here's a list of some places to consider:

Medical Abortion ("the abortion pill") Providers[edit]

  • Misoprostol is available as Cytotec along with Mifepristone. Women can get access to a medical abortion through a phone service telephone number: 1800 180 880.
  • MS Health: Has the abortion pill. "MS Health is a not-for-profit pharmaceutical company established to deliver vital reproductive health products and medicines. We are proud to be part of Marie Stopes International, delivering a global mission of children by choice, not chance."

Clinics & Hospitals Offering Abortion Services[edit]

Visit the city pages for recommended hospitals and clinics.

Queensland based organisation, Children by Choice, maintains a list of larger providers on their website. Queensland services here: https://www.childrenbychoice.org.au/forwomen/abortion/clinicsqld Other states and territories here: https://www.childrenbychoice.org.au/forwomen/abortion/clinicsinterstate

Please note that General Practitioners can provide medical terminations in primary care practices and community health centres, however often don't want to advertise this for fear of anti-choice picketers or other activities. Check with the Family Planning organisation in the state or territory you are in to find your closest provider.

Costs[edit]

Abortion services range from $300 to $500. If you do not have a Medicare card, you may have to pay a higher rate.

Advocacy & Counseling[edit]

Laws & Social Stigmas[edit]

What to Get & Where to Get It[edit]

  • If you're in immediate danger, dial 000
  • 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732: The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line is a free telephone and online confidential service for any Australian experiencing or who has experienced domestic or family violence and/or sexual assault. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service: 1800 015 188 or 03 9322 3555
  • 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732: The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line is a free telephone and online confidential service for any Australian experiencing or who has experienced domestic or family violence and/or sexual assault. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • 13 11 14: "Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your State. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can call 13 11 14."
  • Suicide Call Back Service: Call 1300 659 467. For ages 15+. Provides immediate telephone counseling and support in a crisis. Available 24/7.
  • Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline: 1800 019 123
  • beyondblue: Call 1300 22 4636 or chat online. "3 million Australians are living with anxiety or depression. beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live."


Costs[edit]

List of Additional Resources[edit]

  • The Department of Health - Australia
  • Family Planning Alliance Australia: "Family Planning Alliance Australia is the nation's peak body in reproductive and sexual health. It promotes advances in public health through policy insight and advocacy and represents leading health and education agencies across Australia." Email: secretariat@familyplanningallianceaustralia.org.au
  • Australian Reproductive Health Assocation: "ARHA gives precedence to supplying fundamental reproductive health services to pregnant girls, young people, and difficult-to-reach populations, including those. Linking reproductive health services to AIDS and HIV prevention, care and treatment is increasingly being viewed as an essential strategy to enlarging accessibility to both forms of care." Phone: +61 2 9411 1466. Email: stewart@arha.org.au
  • Reproductive Choice Australia: "Reproductive Choice Australia is a coalition of organisations and individuals who are interested in ensuring that women’s reproductive rights are protected and enhanced in Australia."
  • The Australian Women's Register: "The Australian Women's Register is a rich and growing source of information about Australian women and their organisations. It contains 6826 entries with references to 4189 archival resources, 8461 published resources and 1248 digital resources."
  • Equality Rights Alliance: "Equality Rights Alliance is Australia’s largest network advocating for women’s equality, women’s leadership and recognition of women’s diversity. We bring together 61 organisations with an interest in advancing women’s equality." Phone: 02 6175 9988. Email: era.admin@ywca.org.au
  • The Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association (AWGSA): "The Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association (AWGSA) is the peak body representing researchers, academics and students of Women’s Studies and Gender Studies in Australia."
  • The Australian Women’s History Network: "The Australian Women’s History Network promotes research and writing in all fields of women’s history. It brings together scholars, students and others working in women’s history to exchange ideas, information, support and resources."
  • Sydney Feminists: "We are a group of passionate women and men working towards social change through education. We use workshops, documentary films and social media to educate the public about the numerous ways women are still discriminated against in Western society and around the world."
  • The National LGBTI Health Alliance: "The National LGBTI Health Alliance is the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI) and other sexuality, gender, and bodily diverse people and communities."
  • Black Rainbow: "Black Rainbow is Australia’s first and only National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Trans* and Intersex (LGBQTI) Suicide Prevention National Advocacy Platform and National Touchpoint. We support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people who are homeless, leaving domestic violence relationships or the justice system. We are 100% Indigenous owned and operated."
  • Genderqueer Australia: "Genderqueer Australia is social and peer support for who identifies gender-questioning or genderqueer. Get in contact at contact@genderqueer.org.au."

References[edit]

  1. Trends in Contraceptive Use Worldwide, 2015
  2. IPFF Australia
  3. IPFF Australia
  4. IPFF Australia
  5. Australia: EC Status and Availability
  6. Provision of the emergency contraceptive pill without prescription: attitudes and practices of pharmacists in Australia
  7. Note to pharmacists on how not to sell the morning-after pill
  8. Note to pharmacists on how not to sell the morning-after pill
  9. Princeton Emergency Contraception Website
  10. Note to pharmacists on how not to sell the morning-after pill
  11. Morning after pill cost
  12. [HIV Travel: Australia]
  13. PrEP Watch: Australia
  14. Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 (Victoria)
  15. Queensland parliament votes to legalise abortion
  16. Is Abortion Legal in Australia?
  17. Australia: Organizations and clinics, Women on Waves
  18. Australian Abortion Law and Practice