Major parties seek to attract women voters with health promises ahead of Victorian election
With women making up more than 50 per cent of the population, there is a very good chance they will play a significant part in determining the outcome of Saturday’s Victorian election.
- The Victorian Labor government is promising to expand women’s healthcare hubs, and make pads and tampons free
- The Liberal-National Coalition is committing to removing out-of-pocket expenses for fertility services
- The Greens promise to make contraception completely free to reduce cost-of-living expenses for young people
It is a fact that has not escaped the election’s major players, with many of their biggest policy announcements in the past few weeks targeting women.
They have come thick and fast, including promises about families, contraception and health care.
With just three days to go, the major parties are gearing up for what looks like a tight contest.
Here are some of the promises from major parties specifically targeting female voters and health.
Labor’s big promise to Victorian women if it is re-elected is to expand and build clinics that will deal with women’s health issues.
From period pain to contraception, endometriosis to menopause, the clinics are part of a $71-million package to deal with health issues specific to women.
The package also includes dedicated Indigenous women’s health services, and mobile services to reach women where permanent services cannot be set up.
Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said the plan was to ensure fair access to expert practitioners.
“They will treat our girls and women with dignity and respect and treat their conditions, conditions which for too long have been brushed under the carpet and remained poorly understood,” she said.
The Labor Party also promised to make pads and tampons free for all women across 700 public sites at a cost of $23 million.
“This is not only a cost-of-living measure, this is about de-stigmatising women’s healthcare,” Ms Thomas said.
The Coalition’s list
Victoria’s Liberal-National Coalition is promising a targeted initiative for women who have serious long-term health conditions.
It has promised to remove out-of-pocket costs for the collection and initial storage of eggs for women with cancer or conditions such as severe endometriosis.
Women would receive up to $7,000 in rebates for the procedure in what Opposition Leader Mathew Guy said would help “future-proof” the choice to start a family.
Opposition health spokesperson Georgie Crozier said the promise would deliver results.
“While this is only a modest and very targeted investment, it will have an enormous impact on those women who need it,” he said.
“Every year around 750 Victorian women freeze their eggs for medical reasons, and this number is growing.”
The Coalition also announced $6 million would be allocated over four years to the McGrath Foundation’s work towards breast cancer research and prevention.
The Greens’ list
The Victorian Greens party, while unlikely to form government, has made some bold promises.
Most notable is their plan to make contraceptives completely free for all Victorians.
The pill, intra-uterine devices (IUDs) and condoms would all be included under the plan, which the Greens said was designed to ease rising cost-of-living pressures for young Victorians.
The party would pay for up to $200 in subsidies for the insertion of IUDs for women who chose to get one.
The Greens health spokesperson Dr Tim Read said young people and the cost of living were at the heart of the plan.
“The last thing we want them doing is cutting corners on contraception,” he said.
“An unwanted pregnancy helps nobody.”
The Greens also want to provide free condoms in high schools, and to make sexual healthcare, contraception, and antenatal care available to migrant women.