Sexual and reproductive health a COVID-19 priority (Statement)

Burnet Institute, 28 May, 2020

Burnet Institute is a member of a consortium of Australian-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academic institutes concerned about the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls globally.

The International Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Consortium, which includes Save the Children, Family Planning NSW, CARE Australia, The Nossal Institute for Global Health, and Médecins Sans Frontières Australia, is calling on the Australian Government to prioritise the needs of women and girls in its response to COVID-19.

Collectively, the consortium works across 160 countries to champion universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It’s concerned that women and girls across the globe are struggling to access critical sexual and reproductive health care, citing evidence that COVID-19 lockdowns are likely to cause millions of unplanned pregnancies.

In the Pacific, travel to rural and remote areas have been curtailed, and physical distancing requirements have forced the cancellation of most group training on sexual and reproductive rights.

A recent UNFPA report determined that a six-month lockdown could mean 47 million women and girls globally cannot access contraception, and seven million will become pregnant.

The consortium has issued a joint statement setting out priorities to ensure Australia’s global response to COVID-19 meets the critical needs of all women and girls, including:

  • Recognise and respond to the gendered impacts of the pandemic, and the increased risk to women and girls from gender-based violence and other harmful practices
  • Improve the supply of contraceptives and menstrual health products which are being impacted by the strain and disruption on global supply chains
  • Increase flexibility in delivering sexual and reproductive health services during lockdown using innovative health delivery models such as task-sharing, tele-health and pharmacy distribution
  • Support sexual and reproductive health workers and clinics to continue delivering services sagely with access to personal protective equipment as well as training on how to refer, test or diagnose COVID-19.

 

New Resource for young LGBTIQA+ people

Victim Support Service, May 2020

The Rainbow Safety Guide is an informational wallet card that links LGBTIQ+ youth experiencing violence and abuse to online and phone resources. The Guide was made by and for LGBTIQ+ youth.


meet the artist/DESIGNER: India Potter (she/they is an Adelaide based young queer artist who does both digital and watercolour designs. Her art often portrays the queer community and aspects of LGBTIQ+ life. Both an artist and graphic designer, India created the art and designed the wallet card, taking special care to create art that was representative, colourful, but discreet enough that without the first page the Rainbow Safety Guide is less obviously a LGBTIQ+ resource.


This wallet sized Guide can be easily carried around by its user. It provides links to support services & information that may help them by:
• phone numbers
• online links
• QR codes

Due to the card’s small size it can be shared discreetly so as to not unintentionally “out” the recipient. If you are not in a position to physically give the card to someone, you can share this online link or our other LGBTIQ+ pages. The quick exit feature allows the reader to hide the page quickly if needed.

This wallet card will be valuable to services who work with youth, as well as individuals who know a young LGBTIQ+ person who they know or suspect is experiencing violence or abuse.

  • Read more at the VSS website here
  • To view or download the Rainbow Safety Guide card (PDF), click here
  • To request a physical copy email the VSS helpdesk at helpdesk@victimsa.org

 

Developing LGBTQ programs for perpetrators and victims/survivors of domestic and family violence

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, 2020

Developed under the guidance of a project reference group comprised of key academics, clinicians and researchers in the areas of LGBTQ theory and practice, domestic and family violence interventions and social work practice, this research highlights the need to support the LGBTQ community in developing readiness to recognise domestic and family violence, and then seek support.

Identifying and responding to LGBTQ DFV/IPV can present specific challenges.

Key findings:
  • DFV/IPV in LGBTQ relationships can be difficult to identify and understand due to the “heterosexual face” of domestic violence.
  • DFV/IPV in LGBTQ relationships can involve unique tactics of abuse, including identity-based abuse.
  • Trauma from discrimination and stigma (minority stress) impact experiences of DFV/IPV for LGBTQ community members, but are not directly causal.
  • LGBTQ community readiness to recognise DFV/IPV and seek support, as well as service responses to LGBTQ people experiencing DFV/IPV, must be strengthened.

 

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SHINE SA media release: CONTRACEPTION IS ESSENTIAL IN PREVENTING RISE IN UNINTENDED PREGNANCY DURING COVID-19

SHINE SA Media Release: 2 April 2020

Sexual and reproductive health must remain at the forefront of our minds during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is possible that throughout this crisis we may see a rise in unintended pregnancy as well as incidences of domestic violence, sexual violence and sexual coercion.  Unfortunately this could come at a time where our health systems are focused on the prevention and management of the pandemic itself. In addition to general sexual health services, access to pregnancy options including abortion may be impacted over the next 6 months.

Unintended pregnancy rates are already high in Australia. It is estimated that half of all pregnancies are unplanned. It is possible that self-isolation/quarantine measures could see an increase in unprotected sexual activity without reliable forms of contraception. These circumstances may contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in an environment where support systems and personal wellbeing have been affected.

SHINE SA asks that people consider all of their contraceptive choices at this time. This includes long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) options, especially if they do not wish to become pregnant in the near future. These options can be discussed with a general practitioner.

It’s also important that people are aware that they can access the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) from community pharmacies. Oral emergency contraception is effective up to 120 hours after unprotected sex but the sooner it is taken, the greater the effectiveness.

  • South Australians looking for advice on any sexual health issue including contraception and unintended pregnancy can call SHINE SA’s Sexual Healthline.
    This is a free and confidential service provided by SHINE SA’s sexual health nurses. Call: 1300 883 793; Toll free: 1800 188 171 (country callers only).
    The Sexual Healthline is open Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 12:30pm.
  • Australians can also call 1800 RESPECT, the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling and information referral service. This service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service is a South Australian service for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. Call 8226 8777 or visit the Yarrow Place website for more information.
  • Visit the SHINE SA website for more information on Emergency ContraceptionChoices in Contraception and Safer Sex.
  • Download this Media Release.

Disability Support Toolkit for frontline workers – violence and abuse

1800RESPECT, March 2020

The Disability Support Toolkit has resources for front line workers supporting people with disability who have been impacted by violence and abuse.

People with disability are 1.8 times more likely to experience violence and abuse, including more varied forms of abuse. (Source: AIHW Report 2019.) They are also less likely, and take longer to reach out for support.

This Toolkit includes:

  • Research paper on best practice to implement the disability toolkit
  • Videos to share with clients on how to contact the 1800RESPECT service and how the service works
  • Easy English booklets that can be downloaded or ordered free from 1800RESPECT.

This Toolkit can be used in conjunction with information provided on our website on Inclusive Practice: Supporting people with disability.

‘Putting it into practice’ Guidelines

The ‘Putting it into Practice’ guidelines are a resource to support access and inclusion. The guidelines provide information on:

  • General principles
  • Engaging women with disabilities, including language
  • Using specialist resources

 

  • Download the guidelines in Word or PDF.

Scope Videos

This set of 3 videos were co-developed by Scope and 1800RESPECT. They are designed to be viewed by people with disability, and include information on how to contact 1800RESPECT, and how the service works.

  • Watch the videos here

Easy English booklets

The Easy English booklets have been developed as part of the Disability Pathways Project and with Women with Disabilities Australia. They are evidence based, user group tested and easy to use.

Sunny app

Sunny is 1800RESPECT’s app for women with disability who have experienced violence and abuse. Sunny has been co-designed with women with disability to make sure it provides the very best support for the people who use it. Learn more about Sunny. Sunny is free to download and is free to use on your phone.

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COVID-19: A Gender Lens – sexual & reproductive health and gender inequality

UN Population Fund (UNFPA), March 2020

Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently, and pandemics make existing inequalities for women and girls and discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty, worse. This needs to be considered, given the different impacts surrounding detection and access to treatment for women and men.

Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers