August 11, 2021

Family Planning Clinic team receives University of Melbourne Grant

The Northern Health Family Planning Clinic team at Broadmeadows Hospital has received the University of Melbourne Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Innovation Grant to co-design women’s reproductive health services.

The grant supports novel research ideas for early and mid-career researchers, and will allow the team to partner with women to improve reproductive health services in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The research team consists of Associate Professor Lisa Hui, Women’s and Children’s Research Lead and MFM Specialist; Dr Jeanie Henderson, Gynaecologist and Family Planning Clinic Medical Lead; Kate Chaouki, Family Planning Clinic Coordinator and Midwife; and Eleanor Johnson, Research Midwife. They are delighted to have been awarded $25,000 for their research proposal, ‘Partnering with the community to co-design a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care service in Melbourne’s north (Phase 1)’.

“There is very little research on women’s experiences of accessing abortion and contraception care in Australia, so we developed the idea to co-design a reproductive health service tailored to the needs of our consumers,” said Kate Chaouki.

The Family Planning Clinic provides medical and surgical termination of pregnancy, contraception and sexual health services to more than 200 women per year. It is the only fully publicly-funded service of its kind in the northern metropolitan region, with some women travelling over two hours to access the clinic. These women come from a diverse range of social and cultural backgrounds, underscoring the need for an inclusive and accessible service that caters for all.

Eleanor Johnson said Northern Health played an important role in meeting the reproductive health needs of the community.

“Equitable access to contraception and abortion are fundamental components of sexual and reproductive health,” Eleanor said.

“Until now, abortion care has been designed around the operational demands of the hospital, not the needs and preferences of the women themselves. This grant acknowledges the importance of addressing stigma, understanding women’s experiences and working towards offering sensitive, comprehensive and equitable abortion and sexual health care.”

The team is currently in the process of auditing the Family Planning Clinic service, developing research surveys and materials, and planning the first phases of the research. A public call for consumer partners in the project will be forthcoming.

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