22 April 2021
Today we have published a report sharing our impact during 2020. We started 2020 with a vision about how we would continue advancing our mission in Australia with a keen focus on delivering Your Choice, No Matter What. When the pandemic was called and we initiated a crisis management team structure, our goal for the year became maintaining access, while keeping our clients and teams safe at all costs.
Against many odds, including battling to maintain the classification of abortion as an essential service, remaining open despite restrictions, fighting for our right to access personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles, we did it. We were able to keep our sexual and reproductive health services open, increase telehealth capacity, reduce client contact points through evolving models of care, and successfully complete national accreditation.
Regional and remote access and telehealth uptake increased during the peak COVID-19 months, April to September 2020, increased by 69% nationally compared to the same period in 2019. Telehealth and access to temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item numbers helped us maintain access for clients and provided a convenient and reliable service with reduced need for travel and face-to-face contact.
Nationally there was a 30% increase in teleabortion services, an 8% increase in the number of regional clients and a 20% increase in the number of remote clients. Without this service, the impact of the pandemic restrictions and collapse of reliable travel options would have made access impossible for some of these communities.
None of this would have been possible without our exceptionally dedicated staff and community of supporters, who showed up and gave of themselves beyond what any organisation could hope or expect.
Quotes from Jamal Hakim, Managing Director, Marie Stopes Australia
“The pandemic has shown us how models of care can respond to improve access to abortion as an essential service today and into the future. It also shows how the health sector can work together to address the altered environment and increase efficiencies, especially in regional, remote and rural areas.”
“Marie Stopes is committed to supporting the delivery of these models of care and adjust its service offering to reflect the changing external landscape – so that no one is left behind.”
“The pandemic could have led to diminished access and opportunities for people seeking reproductive and sexual health services, but instead, through the dedication of staff, the support of partners and others, the organisation has continued its capacity to deliver services.”
“We look forward to continuing to modify our models of care to remain sustainable into the future and continue to deliver and advocate for bodily autonomy and access for all.”
For media inquiries please contact Ruth Heenan on 0416 565 332.