Improving access to abortion in regional Victoria

The Royal Women's Hospital

Supported beneficiary groups within Women & Girls
Age Demographic
Varied Ages
Project Focus
Project Area

Project Description

Access to timely abortion care remains a challenge, especially for women from vulnerable groups and those living in rural and regional areas.

Abortion is a time sensitive procedure. Early medical abortion (using medication) is only available up to 9 weeks pregnancy. Surgical abortion can be provided up to 24 weeks in some locations in Victoria.

A barrier to quick access is the availability of an ultrasound service. An ultrasound is a preferred prerequisite for safe and quality abortion care.

Unfortunately, access to ultrasound is limited in regional reproductive health clinics in Victoria. Rural and regional women are consequently often required to travel large distances across multiple appointments, far from home and their support networks to receive abortion care.

Where ultrasound equipment exists, it is often underutilised due to lack of appropriate training for health professionals who are otherwise able to offer other components of abortion care.

Delay in access to an ultrasound may result in delayed abortion care, and increase the financial, emotional and health burden to women seeking an abortion service.

This project aims to reduce barriers by equipping regional clinics with portable ultrasound machines ($52,690) and training local staff ($6,500) in using the equipment.

Ultimately, the sooner a woman can access an ultrasound, the more privacy, control and options she may have.

Expected Outcomes

Your impact:
The Women’s supports regional health clinics that are part of our state-wide Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinical Champion Project, which improves access to safe and effective abortion.

Our goal is to equip each regional clinic with a portable on-site ultrasound machine and to upskill members of the clinic health care workforce (doctor, nurse, midwife or nurse practitioner) to provide “point of care” ultrasound scans.

For the women accessing this new service, it would mean receiving all the necessary abortion services (assessment, tests and medication prescription) in a single appointment at a clinic near home, as a “one-stop shop” model.

Victoria currently has 14 state-funded sexual and reproductive health clinics, ten of these in regional and rural Victoria. Approximately four clinics have an existing on-site ultrasound service available.

Though the number of weekly early medical abortion appointments varies at each clinic, generally a minimum of ten appointments are offered at each clinic per week. Using this conservative estimate, the Women’s anticipate each ultrasound could benefit 500 rural and regional women per year.

Why is this important?
Access to abortion is fundamental to women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare. It is a human right and an important public health issue.

The Women’s believes that every individual – regardless of where they live – should have timely access to quality reproductive healthcare.

Project Data & Lessons

Data on the number of ultrasound appointments provided will be collected by each reproductive health service. As per the estimate described above, the Women’s estimate approximately 5,000 appointments per annum.

Quantitative data is currently being collected to describe the number appointments provided, and this may be efficiently extended when access to on-site ultrasound is improved.

Sharing lessons
Opportunities exist through the Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinical Champion Project to profile and promote efficient and effective models of abortion service delivery.

A one-stop model of abortion care is recognised as an efficient model of care that is able to be replicated across state settings, but only with appropriate resourcing and additional ultrasound equipment.

Project Dates

We are seeking to resource ten regional sexual and reproductive health clinics, however long that takes.

Funding Details

Funding Needed
Current Funding
Total Project Costs
Approved Tax Deductability Status
Other Funding Sources
Other Support Opportunities
Not Interested

Organisation Details

The Royal Women's Hospital
ABN: 62 787 822 077


Jason Smith
Phone: 0467730607

About The Royal Women's Hospital

As Australia’s first specialist public hospital for women and newborns, the Women’s holds a distinctive role in the healthcare system. We are proud of our history of leadership and advocacy on a range of sensitive, complex and challenging women’s health issues.

What do we do?

The Women’s delivers specialist maternity, gynaecology and wrap-around health services to women and babies in Melbourne, as well as those with complex needs from across Australia.

We are also a significant provider of education and help train the next generation of midwives, social workers, nurses, obstetricians, neonatologists and other specialists.

We are passionate advocates in areas of women’s health that have long been overlooked or stigmatized, including abortion, endometriosis, disability, family violence, menopause, incontinence, mental health disorders, sexual assault and substance use in pregnancy.

Our advocacy activities aim to address health disadvantage through funding, policy, and system reform.

Our priority areas

Our vision is to create healthier futures for women and babies. Philanthropy is integral to the achievement of our vision by amplifying our impact across six priority action areas:

  • Increasing access to family planning and contraceptive care;
  • Discovering novel interventions to ensure babies survive and thrive;
  • Transforming how health systems address family violence;
  • Shining a light on areas of women’s health that are critically under-represented such as pelvic pain, problematic menopausal symptoms, incontinence and gynaecological cancers;
  • Developing the next generation of researchers in women’s and newborn health;
  • Ending infertility for young cancer survivors.

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