Tuesday’s federal budget will include almost $354 million for women’s health, with funding for conditions such as endometriosis and increased screening for breast and cervical cancers.
- More than $100 million has been allocated to improving cervical and breast cancer screening programs
- More than $47 million will go to services specialising in perinatal depression, and there is almost $27 million to combat eating disorders
- $21.6 million is going towards women’s health initiatives, including education and pain management programs targeting endometriosis
The federal government has been promising an increased focus on women in this year’s economic blueprint. The funding boost, spread over four years, will also go towards improving access to mental health services for new and expectant mothers.
“It’s about healthy mums, healthy bubs, healthy women and healthy girls, and there’s not much more important a gift we can have on Mother’s Day,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
First Nations women ‘left behind’ in cervical cancer elimination
Australia is on track to become one of the first places in the world to eliminate cervical cancer — but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are being left behind.
More than $100 million has been allocated to improving cervical and breast cancer screening programs, aiming to lift Australia’s already strong survival rates.
“We are on track, by 2035, to be potentially the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer,” Mr Hunt said, citing the widespread use of the Gardasil vaccine.
The minister said breast cancer would also be targeted in the funding package, with more than 3,000 Australian women losing their lives to the disease every year.
“We’re expanding the BreastScreen program. It will now cover ages 40 to 74 on a permanent basis,” he said.
“This will give better access for more women and give more women access to mammograms.”
Funding necessary for ongoing health of Australian women: Hunt
More than $47 million will go to services specialising in perinatal depression, and there is almost $27 million to combat eating disorders.
$95.9 million is being spent on screening of embryos for abnormalities during the IVF process, and $13.7 million is being allocated to reduce pre-term birth rates – particularly among Indigenous communities.
$21.6 million is going towards women’s health initiatives, including education and pain management programs targeting endometriosis, which affects one in nine Australian women.
“We know that this is an agonising condition. It was previously an unspoken of and hidden condition,” Mr Hunt said.
“We are talking about it as a country.”
Mr Hunt argued the funding was necessary to ensure the ongoing health of Australian women and should not be viewed as an attempt by the government to fix a perceived “women’s problem”.
“There’s always more than we can do,” Mr Hunt said.
Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek said any extra funding was welcome, but added she was reluctant to give the government too much credit for the measures.
“I’m not sure that there’s anything in this announcement that is highly innovative, but we’ll look at the detail over the next few days,” Ms Plibersek said.
“At this stage, it looks like business as usual.”
Ms Plibersek said the Coalition did not have a great record when it came to supporting women’s initiatives.
“It’s hard to forget that this time last year the Prime Minister, when asked about women giving birth by the side of the highway because their local maternity services had been closed, boasted about the fact that he’d upgraded the highway,” she said.