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.

 

Position Statement on LARC access during the COVID-19 pandemic

SHINE SA, April 7, 2020

SHINE SA, along with Family Planning VictoriaFamily Planning NTFamily Planning TasmaniaSexual Health and Family Planning ACTSexual Health Quarters, and True Relationships & Reproductive Health have co-signed a Position Statement on LARC access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extended use of and ongoing access to LARCs during the COVID-19 pandemic

Provision of contraception is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent unintended pregnancies. This is particularly important for individuals most at risk, including young people due to their high levels of fertility, people with serious health conditions, and for those who are post-abortion. Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive methods (LARCs) are more effective than shorter acting methods and increased community access and uptake is associated with lower abortion rates.

Ongoing access to LARC insertion is essential during the pandemic

Contraception is essential health care and all efforts should be made to continue the insertion of LARCs during the pandemic. To reduce the risk of infection with COVID-19, this may require different approaches to insertion such as a wearing mask during insertion of contraceptive implant or using an inserter-only approach for IUD insertion (with an assistant outside the room for emergencies).

Summary of recommendations during the pandemic

  • All efforts should be made to continue access to insertion of LARCs during the pandemic, particularly for younger people, people with serious health conditions, and post-abortion
  • The etonogestrel implant (Implanon NXT) can be extended off-label for use up to 4 years
  • The 52mg LNG IUD (Mirena) can be extended off-label for use up to 6 years
  • The 19.5mg LNG IUD (Kyleena) cannot be extended beyond 5 years
  • Standard sized T shaped banded copper IUDs can be extended off-label for use up to 12 years
  • 5-year copper IUDs (Load 375 and Copper T short) can be extended off-label for use up to 6 years
  • Additional use of condoms and/or a contraceptive pill should be discussed with users for whom the risk of an unintended pregnancy is unacceptable during extended use.

 

COVID-19: pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding – statements & guidance

Various sources, March 2020

SHINE SA a signatory to the South Australian joint statement against the Religious Discrimination Bill

February 27th, 2020

We the undersigned represent a range of researchers, community service organisations and advocacy groups that support communities throughout South Australia. We are united in our concerns about the draft Religious Discrimination Bill and its potential to cause harm to the communities we serve.

We respect the diversity of Australia and celebrate the multitude of beliefs, identities and cultures that co-exist within our society. We likewise celebrate the various faiths throughout Australia and value the ability for such diverse communities to exist media rpeacefully with one another.

While we respect the Government’s intent to craft a Religious Discrimination Bill that will protect religious Australians from being discriminated against, we are deeply concerned that the current Bill goes too far. Anti-discrimination legislation should protect people from being discriminated against, but this Bill will allow religious Australians, and religious organisations, to discriminate against people who are different from them.

All Australians should be protected equally by the law, regardless of who they are or what they believe. It is for this reason that we call on the Government to reconsider this Bill to ensure that any legislation that is passed protects all of us from discrimination rather than handing some Australians a license to discriminate against others.
For the sake of Australia’s harmonious diversity, we ask all Federal politicians to stand with us in finding a better way forward.

Signed by:

• Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch)
• Child and Family Focus SA
• COTA SA
• Justice for Refugees SA
• Public Law and Policy Research Unit
• SA Lived Experience Leadership & Advocacy Network (LELAN)
• SA Unions
• SHINE SA
• SOS Copper Coast Suicide Prevention Network
• South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS)
• South Australian Network of Drug & Alcohol Services (SANDAS)
• South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA)
• St John’s Youth Services
• Youth Affairs Council of South Australia (YACSA)

“SARAA believes in an Australia free from discrimination, but the Religious Discrimination Bill won’t accomplish this. The law should protect people from discrimination, not give a right to discriminate. LGBTIQ South Australians have been clear that they don’t support the current Bill and SARAA is pleased to see so many other organisations taking a stand against it, too. We know this Bill will harm many sections of Australian society and we hope the government will listen to our concerns to find a better way forward.”

– Matthew Morris, Chair, South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance 

“Fourteen community organisations and research groups have come together through the Rights Resource Network SA to raise their voice about the impact of the draft Religious Discrimination Bill on the lives of South Australians.  We have our own system of equal opportunity laws in this state that businesses, community organisations and individuals comply with and rely upon.  They are not perfect, but they don’t deserve to be overridden by proposed federal laws that will elevate the rights of some over the rights of others.  Rather than go ahead with this legally complex and divisive proposal, these thirteen diverse organisations urge the Federal Government start again when it comes to designing legal protections against religious discrimination.  We urge South Australian federal and state Members of Parliament to listen to the concerns of their constituents when it comes to responding to this draft Bill.”

Dr Sarah Moulds, Co-Founder, Rights Resource Network SA and Senior Lecturer in Law the University of South Australia

“There are already a range of existing federal and state laws specifically designed to eliminate discrimination – particularly when it comes to employment. This legislation will create enormous uncertainty about the operation of these laws and will also introduce a considerable compliance burden for all businesses including community sector organisations. SACOSS believes it would be preferable to address any concerns about securing “religious freedoms” using the same framework established in existing discrimination laws.  If not, then one of the best ways we to protect crucial human rights and freedoms would be through the development of a national Bill/Charter of Rights. It is absolutely imperative this proposed Bill is either voted down or properly amended to ensure key issues are addressed so that harmonious and co-operative Australian workplaces are not compromised and that all Australians have their rights enabled.”

– Ross Womersley, CEO of the South Australian Council of Social Service 

“The Religious Discrimination Bill does nothing to improve protections against discrimination on the grounds of religion. In fact, it makes the situation worse for tens of thousands of South Australian workers in religious aged care facilities, hospitals, accommodation providers, educational bodies, and charitable institutions. Not only are those workers expressly excluded from the Bill’s protection, but discrimination against them based on their personal religious belief or activity is specifically permitted and encouraged by the Bill. In addition, all workers in the public sector are completely excluded from protections. The Bill will create a risk of increased confusion, conflict, uncertainty and harm in Australian workplaces and should not be passed in its current form.”

Angas Story, Secretary SA Unions

 

Female genital cutting (FGC) & cervical screening: A guide for practitioners

CANCER COUNCIL VICTORIA & WOMEN’S HEALTH WEST FARREP
PROGRAM, First published 2017

The World Health Organization defines female genital cutting (FGC) as ‘all procedures that include partial or total removal of female genital organs or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons’.

‘Female genital mutilation’ is the term used in Australian and Victorian legislation, but the preferred way to refer to the practice using culturally sensitive language is ‘female circumcision’ or ‘traditional cutting’. The age at which this occurs varies from infancy to 15 years.

The practice is referred to as FGC throughout this document.

This 2-page guideline document includes facts about prevalance, type, appropriate questioning, examination technique, and more.

 

APS Refutes ‘Social Contagion’ Arguments

APS (The Australian Psychological Society), September 2019

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) today released the following statement in support of transgender people in Australia, and challenging the unfounded claim that social media influences the gender of young people specifically:

“Empirical evidence consistently refutes claims that a child’s or adolescent’s gender can be ‘directed’ by peer group pressure or media influence, as a form of ‘social contagion’,” APS Fellow Professor Damien Riggs said.