Federal Budget 2024: Women’s health gets huge boost with endometriosis, menopause and miscarriage in sights

Kate Emery
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Health was a significant focus in the 2024 Federal Budget.
Health was a significant focus in the 2024 Federal Budget. Credit: The Nightly

Women will be in line for faster gynecological help, easier access to long-term contraception and cheaper breast cancer treatment under a raft of investments in women’s health.

The Budget’s focus on women’s health is part of what the Government says is an attempt – “for the first time” – to tackle systemic bias against women in healthcare.

The issue can see women’s pain dismissed and their diagnoses delayed, while also being over-prescribed medication and getting slugged with higher out-of-pocket costs.

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Long-term the plan includes a $1.4 billion spend over 13 years into menopause, pregnancy loss and infertility and $1.6b over 11 years to fund nurses and midwives.

The latter includes help for teachers and social work students through mandatory placements that form part of their studies.

Shorter-term it means $49.1 million over four years for longer gynecology consultations.

From July next year patients with pelvic pain or endometriosis can access subsidised consultations of 45 minutes-plus with a gynecologist – and the inclusion of abemaciclib, or Verzenio, which is used to treat early breast cancer, on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.

That should drop the cost of for about 2400 Australians.

It also means $1.2m in funding over two years to train health practitioners to help patients through menopause, $12.5m to provide free period products to Indigenous communities and $56.5m over four years for better maternity care.

It’s hoped the funding would translate into longer antenatal and postnatal consultations with midwives, a six-week mental health screening for postnatal women and better continuity of care.

Just how Australian women prevent themselves from getting pregnant – one-third of women have an unplanned pregnancy – has also emerged as a focus.

The Government wants to see more women use long-active reversible contraception devices, which tend to be more reliable than other forms of contraception. To make that happen it has earmarked $5.2m over three years to better train healthcare workers on the devices.

A comparatively low uptake of these devices, among the 70 per cent of women of reproductive age who use contraception, has been blamed on both low awareness and limited access to doctors and nurses who can insert and remove them, particularly for intrauterine devices, more commonly known as IUDs.

All up the 2024-25 Budget has committed just over $160m on women’s health specifically.

Other big spending items in the Budget for women include the previously announced $925.2m over five years to help women leave their violent partners, $253.4m for the 1800 RESPECT helpine and $1.1b over four years to pay superannuation on Commonwealth-funded paid parental leave.

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