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How the federal budget affects your sexual health


This week, our sexologist Jamie Bucirde breaks down the federal budget and how it will support sexual health, wellbeing and safety.

As a Sexologist, I’ve always said that access to information is the key driver to support positive sexual wellbeing.

Knowledge is power. The more educated we are on sexual health and sexual wellbeing, the better our lives are.

Research shows that with higher rates of sexual health knowledge, we have better sex lives, have more fulfilled connections and satisfaction within our lives and even live longer. Knowledge IS power (repeat that again).

Two days ago, the Albanese government released the federal budget for 2024/25. It spoke to varying social, economic and health issues – basically, it means how much money is going to each issue, and from where.

It’s important to pay attention to where budgets are going and let that dictate who you vote for in future elections. Who you vote for matters because when it comes down to budgets, it will either work more in your favour or less.

The 2024-2025 budget included things like addressing the cost of living crisis, an electricity bill rebate for Australian households, lowering interest rates for Australian university student HECS debt, expanding universities to achieve a target of 80 per cent of the population with a tertiary education, women’s safety and domestic and sexual violence prevention, better access to women’s health and further funding for mental health initiatives.

Here’s what you need to know about the new budget, and how it’s going to support your sexual health, wellbeing and safety.

SEXUAL HEALTH

The new budget includes significant investments in sexual health services aimed at improving access and outcomes.

This includes $49.1 million for longer consultations on complex gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, which affects approximately 10 per cent of Australian women of reproductive age, equating to around 800,000 women.

Additionally, $53.6 million over four years is dedicated to research on menopause, pregnancy loss and fertility, addressing the fact that up to one in four confirmed pregnancies in Australia end in miscarriage.

Moreover, the budget supports the training of healthcare practitioners in providing long-acting reversible contraception, enhancing the accessibility and effectiveness of contraceptive options.

ACCESS TO EDUCATION

The budget allocates substantial resources to ensure safer and more inclusive educational environments. An $18.7 million investment over four years will fund initiatives to prevent and respond to gender-based violence in universities, fostering safer campuses for the 1.5 million university students in Australia, of whom approximately 57 per cent are women.

Additionally, $19.4 million is dedicated to establishing a National Student Ombudsman, an independent body that will handle complaints related to gender-based violence, ensuring that students have access to justice and support. This initiative addresses the concerning statistic that one in five Australian women have experienced sexual assault since the age of 15 and that over 30 women have been murdered at the hands of a man this year alone.

WOMEN’S SAFETY

Women’s safety is a priority in the new budget, with $925 million allocated to support women leaving abusive relationships, providing crucial financial aid. This is vital given that one in four Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner.

Legal assistance services will receive $44.1 million to remain operational, offering essential support to women in need. Additionally, $6 million is earmarked for trauma-informed healthcare for women in crisis accommodation, ensuring they receive the necessary medical and psychological support during difficult times, acknowledging the severe impact of domestic violence on mental health.

MENTAL HEALTH

To enhance mental health services, the budget includes plans for a national digital mental health service to be operational by January 2026. This initiative aims to provide accessible and comprehensive mental health support online, catering to the 20 per cent of Australians who experience mental illness each year, with women more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

Furthermore, the existing network of Medicare mental health centres will be upgraded, ensuring more robust and widespread mental health services. These measures reflect a commitment to improving mental well-being, particularly for those affected by gender-based violence and other trauma.

If you’re wondering how mental health affects your sexual wellbeing, you’ll be surprised to know they are closely related. 

Sexual wellbeing and mental wellbeing are closely linked, with each significantly impacting the other. Positive sexual health, including fulfilling relationships and a healthy sex life, can enhance self-esteem and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Conversely, poor sexual health, such as experiencing sexual dysfunction or sexually transmitted infections, can lead to psychological distress and poorer mental health. Studies show that addressing sexual health issues can improve overall mental well-being, highlighting the importance of integrated approaches in healthcare to address both aspects concurrently.

While this budget does touch on some important social issues that deserve more funding, I’m personally disappointed to not see more funding allocated to frontline services working with men to change their behaviours on domestic and sexual violence culture.

This budget is a good start, but we’ve got a long way to go (it may be time to start taxing fossil fuels higher, hey Albo?).

Keep paying attention to where our taxes are going, and remember that your sexual health and wellbeing matters.

Don’t forget to stay safe, and stay sexy.

Jamie Bucirde has a postgraduate degree in sexology from Curtin University. Her advice is of a general nature and should be taken in the spirit of the column.



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