Counselling and support
Our counselling team offers decision making counselling, evidence-based information on pregnancy options, referrals to health and support services, and post-abortion counselling and support, to clients across Queensland. Our all options pregnancy counselling and information is available statewide over the phone (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday), or we offer face to face counselling by donation for the pregnant person only at our office in Windsor, Brisbane.
All our counsellors are tertiary qualified and are part of our small paid staff team. As a confidential, genuine all-options service, we do not ‘advise’ clients on which option they should pursue, nor do we try to push one option over another.
It is an integral part of our framework that each individual we support is the expert in their own life. Nobody else can know better than a pregnant person what the best decision for them is.
Women talk to us about:
- trying to decide what to do when they are not sure whether to continue a pregnancy or not;
- concerns they might have about abortion, adoption or parenting;
- health problems or issues with a pregnancy, like a fetal anomaly diagnosis, drug or alcohol use, or maternal health concerns;
- past issues in their life or their family which have surfaced when they face an unplanned pregnancy;
- sexual assault and violence;
- how they're feeling after an abortion.
We can also offer you referrals to other support or medical services, including referrals for abortion, and give you information about abortion procedures, adoption processes, or parenting resources.
We make sure our information is up to date and based in the best possible evidence, which is why our resources, website, and fact sheets are heavily referenced and sourced, so readers know exactly what we’re basing our information on.
We work closely with organisations across the state to ensure that our clients who need support to pursue their chosen pregnancy option – whether that is to continue their pregnancy or to end it – are able to access the services they need to do so. This includes close links with domestic violence and sexual assault support services, women’s health centres, GPs and sexual health services, Adoption Services Queensland, and a plethora of non-profits, community organisations, health services and education providers statewide.
We support between 1500 and 2000 clients from across Queensland each year through our counselling and support service.
In the 2016-17 financial year:
- Around one quarter of our calls were for decision making counselling.
- Almost half (49.5%) of calls were about abortion procedures and availability.
- Over a third (34%) of our work was with women living with or escaping violence. 13% was in relation to reproductive coercion.
- Over one quarter (26.7%) of calls were from outside southeast Queensland.
- Almost 20% of calls were in relation to loans for contraceptive and/or abortion access.
- 65% of our work was with women in the first trimester of pregnancy. Only 5% was with women over 20 weeks gestation.
- We have 2-3 conversations each week on average about adoption.
- All our counselling service clients are given the opportunity to evaluate our service. Over 86% rated us 10/10, with a further 6% rating us 9/10. Only three clients in two years have rated us anything lower than 7/10.
You can download our Client Service Charter (pdf) for more on what to expect from our service.
Financial assistance for abortion and contraception
We run a financial assistance program to help women experiencing disadvantage to access contraception and abortion. If you are in Queensland and having trouble coming up with the funds you need to pay for a termination or long acting contraception, please contact us. We cannot provide you with the entirety of the procedure or travel costs, but we may be able to offer you a small donation or a no interest loan, and help you source assistance from other places as well.
We have been offering financial assistance for abortion access to disadvantaged Queenslanders since 2000. In the first year of operation, the program provided $2900 in small grants. It has been growing ever since.
Our financial assistance program also supports women to access long acting reversible contraceptives, to help prevent unplanned pregnancy in future. It is administered by our counselling team, so women are able to access any further support or information they need during the same process.
Funds provided by our service for abortion and contraceptive access are sourced through donations from members and supporters – including through social media in some cases – and through small specific grants for this purpose.
In 2017-18 we provided $228,052 for abortion and contraceptive access for 412 women across Queensland, comprising of grants, no interest loans, and negotiated discounts with abortion providers.
- Almost half these funds went to women living with domestic and/or sexual violence, because they were not able to access a termination through their public hospital at the time.
- Almost half our financial assistance clients (179 women) received a free or low cost long acting reversible contraceptive through our program.
- 21% of our financial assistance clients identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
- Negotiated discounts with abortion providers accounted for just over $84,000 of the total assistance we were able to offer in 2017-18.
- In the two years to June 2018, less than 9% of financial assistance clients received any support from the man involved in their pregnancy.
Education and training
As part of our work to empower individuals and communities, we offer comprehensive training and professional development opportunities in pregnancy options and reproductive health. This training is available for health and community professionals and can be tailored to your organisation or sector where possible.
Topics include best practice counselling strategies for supporting women with an unplanned pregnancy; legal aspects of pregnancy termination, including medical abortion and provision of services to minors; and evidence-based information on all pregnancy options, including referral pathways.
Our training program includes a biennial national conference on unplanned pregnancy and abortion for health and community sector professionals. Our most recent conference was in August 2017 - more information about it, including presentations from many of our 40+ speakers, is available over here.
We can also deliver guest lectures to university or other tertiary students.
As well as our training programs, we offer sexuality and relationships education for young people through schools and youth services, and online - this includes our youth-specific site know4sure, with comprehensive information on sex, relationships, contraception and pregnancy in straightforward language.
Sexuality education involves learning about growth and development, relationships, staying safe and making healthy choices. Sexuality education aims to:
- provide a sound foundation for the development of healthy sexual identity;
- provide age-appropriate information;
- provide information in a way that encourages acceptance of self and others;
- encourage young people to choose to be sexually healthy; and
- enhance relationships.
We provide a range of options to address the needs of young people including:
- Individual one-off sessions;
- Combination session or sessions on specific topics, for example unplanned pregnancy and contraception;
- Tailor made session or sessions combining a number of topics; and
- Comprehensive program of sessions (recommended).
Our project work
In the past five years we have undertaken three large pieces of project work, both thanks to grants managed by Perpetual.
Regional Rural And Remote Abortion Access Project
The Regional Rural and Remote Abortion Access Project (RRRAAP) is a three year project funded by The Lionel & Yvonne Spencer Trust which commenced in August 2018 aiming to address abortion access inequity in Queensland.
Women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy in regional rural and remote Queensland, when compared with those in the South East corner, require more contact with our counsellors, need greater financial support, are more likely to report domestic violence (38% vs 32%) and sexual assault (17% vs 13%), and travel more than five times the distance (205km vs 41km each way) to access abortion services.
The RRRAAP aims to address some of these inequities and assist in improving service provision for women and pregnant people in regional, rural and remote Queensland. The project aims to improve referral pathways through capacity building among professionals, organisations and communities; to improve access for the most vulnerable women; and to establish an abortion doula initiative to improve support for people experiencing an unplanned pregnancy in Queensland.
Screening To Safety
Screening To Safety commenced in August 2016. The project centres on the intersection of domestic violence, unplanned pregnancy and abortion and is due for completion by April 2018. This project was initiated after increases in rates of violence reported by clients of our counselling service (from 10% of calls in 2010-11 to 34% in 2015-16), and a scoping paper completed by a Children by Choice volunteer on domestic violence, unplanned pregnancy, and abortion. The paper investigated the data around these issues and the ways in which they intersect, and found that while violence screening is becoming a more standardised part of antenatal care, no specific program was in place in abortion provider practices. This became the focus of our Screening To Safety project: increasing the capacity of private abortion providers to identify and respond to the needs of women experiencing domestic violence who attend for abortion care, with a special focus on the issue of reproductive coercion.
The project has developed screening tools for providers, delivered training to every standalone abortion clinic in Queensland, developed a tailored resource on contraceptive options for women living with violence and coercion, released a series of awareness raising posters and other client resources, developed online training videos for GPs providing medication abortion, and much more. More information on the project is available over here.
Our know4sure project was aimed at encouraging young women to confirm a suspected pregnancy early and then to follow up by making a decision and presenting for care. The two year project was initiated after an analysis of our data which showed that on average, our teenaged clients were likely to present later in pregnancy than women aged 20 or over - which has implications no matter which pregnancy option they choose. The project commenced in early 2014 with a consultation phase, followed by the development of our youth-specific website at www.know4sure.org.au and accompanying workshop materials to assist workers to deliver this content to young women.