The Morrison government announced it would support hopeful and expecting mums and dads with a $53 million (US$37 million) package for reproductive services, pregnancy planning, and postnatal care.
Patients with cancer or people at risk of passing on genetic diseases who have undergone government-funded genetic testing will also have their egg, sperm, or embryo storage subsidised.
“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,” he said.
The government previously expanded its Medicare rebate scheme to cover genetic testing services for those undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
From Nov. 1, the Morrison government will put $14.4 million into funding IVF storage services, saving approximately 6,200 people $600 (US$420) a year.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor would match the Coalition’s IVF commitment, calling the financial support a “commonsense” position going forward.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said another $13.7 million would help streamline access to information and services from the pregnancy stage until the baby is 12 months old.
“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,” he said.
Some of the funding will go towards updating clinical pregnancy care and postnatal guidelines and strengthening advice to the government on improving maternity services for families in rural areas.
It will also build on the previously announced commitment to women’s health to improve the health outcomes for Australians in the long term.
The early postnatal period is a time of significant emotional change for most mothers, and around one-in-three of them can identify a traumatic birthing event.
The assistant minister to the prime minister for mental health and suicide prevention, David Coleman, said $25 million over four years would be invested into perinatal mental health and well-being.
“We know around 100,000 Australian parents are touched by perinatal depression and anxiety each year,” he 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.”