The Morrison Government will slash the costs thousands of Australians face on their IVF journey as part of a $53 million package to help mums and dads-to-be with reproductive services, pregnancy planning and postnatal care.
Around 50,000 patients received Medicare-funded Assisted Reproductive Technology services in 2020-21 including through IVF, and now patients with cancer or people at risk of passing on genetic diseases will have their egg, sperm or embryo storage subsidised for the first time.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he understood the hurdles and difficulties many Australians faced in trying to have children after his own family’s IVF journey.
“I want to help thousands more Australians achieve their dream of becoming parents,” the Prime Minister said.
“For people battling cancer or staring down the risk of genetic diseases it’s already a difficult battle, and this new subsidy will help give them more options about their aspirations to become parents.
“Right when these aspiring mums and dads need help the most, we’ll be there.
“Our plan for a strong economy isn’t just about the dollars and cents of a Budget, it’s about being able to make investments like this that help Australians who need it most.”
One in six Australian couples face difficulty trying to start a family and it can be even more difficult for those suffering from cancer or at high risk of passing on genetic diseases or conditions to their children.
Commencing 1 November 2022, the Morrison Government will commit $14.4 million to help support Australians with fertility issues. The Government will subsidise the costs of storage of eggs, sperm or embryos for patients with cancer and people at risk of passing on genetic diseases or conditions who have already undergone Medicare-funded genetic testing:
- $9.9 million will be committed to support patients with cancer to preserve their future fertility by paying the costs of storage. This will assist an average of 4,200 patients per year, saving them approximately $600 per year.
- $4.5 million will be committed to support people who have undertaken Medicare-funded pre-implantation genetic diagnosis testing and have been identified as being at high risk of passing on genetic diseases or conditions to their children. This will assist an average of 2,000 patients per year, saving them approximately $600 per year.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the Government would also deliver more support to parents planning pregnancy and in those first 12 crucial months.
Minister Hunt said $13.7 million would help streamline access to information and services to support new parents from during the pregnancy planning stage until the baby is 12 months old by expanding the Birth of a Child Life Event Service pilot program, updating clinical pregnancy care and postnatal guidelines, and strengthening advice to government on improving maternity services for families in rural areas.
“Whether it’s supporting more Australians with IVF services or in their planning and those precious first few months of caring for a child, our Government is investing to improve the lives of new and hopeful parents,” Minister Hunt said.
“Thinking about having a child, let alone those first few months of a newborn’s life, can be overwhelming and we want to do what we can to make it that bit easier.
“These investments build on the $330.6 million we committed to women’s health in the Budget and will build on the five priority areas of the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030 to improve long term health outcomes for all Australians.”
The early postnatal period is a time of great emotional change for most women, with one in three women identifying a traumatic birthing event.
Minister for Government Services Linda Reynolds said the expansion of the Birth of a Child Life Event Service would now make it significantly easier for parents to enrol their newborn child with Medicare and Centrelink.
“Parents who opt in will simply provide their details once to the hospital, which shares this information with Services Australia to enrol their newborn with Medicare and Centrelink for family assistance,” Minister Reynolds said.
“A process that used to take weeks will now only take a few days, so rather than have to fill out endless government paperwork, parents can spend more time with their new baby.”
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention David Coleman said a re-elected Morrison Government would deliver 20 new Gidget Foundation Australia perinatal mental health and wellbeing services across the country through a $25 million investment over four years.
“We know around 100,000 Australian parents are touched by perinatal depression and anxiety each year and the Gidget Foundation Australia have the experience and skills for interventions that work,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.
“We want to make sure that all new parents know they don’t have to go it alone, that there is specialist support available and that it can be accessed by all new and expecting parents, no matter their situation or where they live.
“Gidget has a long track record of supporting thousands of women and families each year and these additional locations will mean trusted support is available to more Australians, right across the country.
“Our Government is committed to the task of ensuring every Australian gets the help they need to overcome mental ill health and that means ensuring high-quality support is available to those who need it.”
Through the 2021-22 and 2022-23 Budgets, the Government is investing a record $3 billion into the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to drive this reform.
Unlike the Labor Party, which cut mental health funding when last in Government and has not given Australians any detail on their plans for mental health, the Morrison Government will continue to ensure that all Australians can access information, advice, counselling, or treatment, when and where they need it.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1300 224 63), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au).
The PANDA Helpline, which is for women, men, and their families affected by or at risk of perinatal mental illness can be accessed at 1300 726 306 from 9:00am to 7:30pm (AEST/AEDT) from Monday to Friday.