The Federal Senate has established an Inquiry into universal access to reproductive healthcare. The Inquiry was called because the government has acknowledged we have a crisis of sexual and reproductive health access.
On Wednesday 9 November 2022, we hosted an online forum to explore what the inquiry terms mean, how it applies in practice and provided a submission template which you can download here to assist people in writing their own.
Dr Lydia Mainey gave the following speech at our webinar, which you can watch here.
Like me my pitch will be short and punchy. As Dr Catriona Melville foreshadowed, the focus of my presentation is predominantly the nursing and midwifery sector.
My 3 key requests for the inquiry are as follows:
- A Royal Commission into the health and wellbeing of the Australian health workforce
Providing equitable reproductive healthcare relies on a stable and committed workforce. However, current under-resourced, fragmented services, which perpetuate inequitable care and heightened risks to patient safety, is causing a vicious cycle where workers become mentally and physically exhausted. This compromises their ability to provide good care. Many are leaving their professions. We need to address this urgently and comprehensively.
2a. Standardised, evidence-based reproductive health training across all pre-registration nursing and midwifery courses. This should be implemented and overseen by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council.
2b. Post-graduate education pathways to upskill the current workforce & these should be accredited by reproductive health peak bodies.
Nurses and midwives are the largest part of the health workforce.
Moreover, they are more likely to be the stable workforce in rural, remote and very remote communities.
It is time to stop pontificating over whether they are the best people to provide abortion care.
The scientific evidence is overwhelming; adequately prepared nurses and midwives are as safe as doctors at providing medical and surgical abortion care.
3. Reducing the TGA risk profile of RU486-Mifepristone to allow Nurse Practitioners and Certified Midwife prescriptions.
The high-risk profile results from cloak and dagger politics and is unnecessary.
It does not stand up to the standards of a civilised, secular society.
Finally, a call to action: As the largest workforces in Australia, nursing and midwifery have significant political leverage. I call upon our peak bodies, unions, as well as Vocational and Higher Education communities to submit to the inquiry.
Lydia is an early career researcher of reproductive justice and nurse/midwife empowerment at CQUniversity, Australia. She is a Registered Nurse, and her clinical work has centred on health rights and justice.
Her most recent clinical work was nurse manager at MSI Australia’s Rockhampton Clinic (now closed), a role she gave up to pursue a PhD on the experiences of nurses and midwives when they provide abortion care to people victimised by gender-based violence.
In 2022 Lydia became a member of the Queensland Health Termination of Pregnancy Working Group and MSI Australia Technical Advisory Committee, where she advocates for nurse and midwife-led compassionate abortion care.