2 Minute Statement - Universal Access to Reproductive Health Care Inquiry

13 June 2023


In my first speech to this place, I spoke about my aunty, who, after she gave birth to her daughter some years ago, was separated from her for 17 long weeks. She was separated because my aunty is from regional South Australia, the beautiful town of Port Lincoln, and her daughter had special needs, special issues which needed to be addressed and given a certain level of care—care she could not access close to home, care she could not access in regional South Australia. Although this was some time ago, the heartbreaking reality remains that far too many women across our country aren't able to give birth close to home, safely, with the care and support they need.

Last month, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee handed down the report on our inquiry into universal access to reproductive health care. We heard from 350 submitters and made over 30 recommendations, and a number of these recommendations went to the heart of this issue—to what we need to do as a nation to make sure women are able to access that care so they can have their babies close to home. Anyone who has had a baby or held the hand of someone who has brought a little life into the world knows that having a baby is joyous, it's a bloody miracle, but it's also really tough, and we know that in our country there are structural issues that are compounding those challenges, particularly for women in regional and remote Australia, including in my state of South Australia.

These aren't easy things to fix. Workforce is more often than not at the heart of it. But in public policy, when we make a decision that there is a standard which we must uphold, a standard for women and their babies that we must uphold, I know that the states and territories and this government can work to meet it. I'm really proud of these recommendations. I recommend that everyone read them so we can do more for women and their babies in the regions.