Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (22:30): (1691) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health, and the action I seek is for the minister to widen the scope of the 2021–25 Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health plan to include surgical abortion and treatment for menstrual issues, endometriosis and menopause. I am really fortunate to meet with a number of stakeholders in women’s health, and they have advocated in so many areas, but many have raised concerns about the consultation paper released by the department for the SRH plan and have read the plan. I have read the plan, and I agree with them.
We are concerned that the plan is too narrow. It is focused on disease, which absolutely has its place, but the sector would like to broaden that focus to include prevention and good sexual and reproductive health across the life cycle. This is particularly important for pelvic pain issues such as endometriosis.
It takes Victorian women 6½ years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. Many women have to visit multiple doctors until they find one who believes their pain. After the diagnosis much of the advice is, ‘Try mindfulness’, or my personal favourite, ‘Have a baby. That’ll fix it’. Pelvic pain begins in puberty and can affect women for decades of their lives. Our sexual and reproductive health plan must give a more fulsome approach to menstrual health.
Likewise, while I am happy to see a strong focus on early medical abortion, the plan does need to widen its focus to include surgical terminations and particularly to decide whether our hospital system has the capacity to deliver these services, which is why my adjournment matter for the health minister seeks his action to direct his department to broaden the scope of the sexual and reproductive health plan to include surgical abortion, information and treatment for menstrual issues, endometriosis and menopause.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan
Adjournment debate 2/12/21