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Counselling, information and referral

Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion in Australia conference


Our second national Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion in Australia conference was held in Brisbane on 3 and 4 August 2017.

The conference included presentations by over 40 speakers from legal, clinical, academic, and community sectors around the country, including representatives from:

  • five Australian universities;
  • six public hospitals and health services;
  • the Family Planning services from five states and territories;
  • eleven abortion providers;
  • three international reproductive health charities working in developing countries;
  • White Ribbon Australia;
  • the Human Rights Law Centre;
  • the Castan Centre for Human Rights; and
  • the National Alliance of Abortion and Pregnancy Options Counsellors.

The conference was opened by writer and broadcaster Jane Caro and included speakers from the Queensland and federal parliaments.

Over 200 delegates from across Australia and New Zealand attended, including members of the Queensland Law Reform Commission, the Royal Australian College of General Practice, the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and health and community professionals working with women experiencing unplanned pregnancy in schools, hospitals, sexual health clinics, and other fields of practice.

Evaluations from delegates after the conference concluded were overwhelmingly positive, with 85% reporting an extreme or significant increase in knowledge and connectedness, and 89% that the conference had an impact on how they would do things in their own role in future. Over 70% of delegates rated their satisfaction level as excellent.

Conference profits are being used to support our Queensland Abortion Fund, providing financial assistance to women facing extreme disadvantage for abortion and contraceptive access.


Conference calls to action

The following calls to action were endorsed by all delegates at the close of the conference:

We call on state, territory and federal governments to develop and implement a comprehensive, well-resourced, outcome-driven National Strategy on Reproductive and Sexual Health. This strategy should:

  • provide a coordinating role across states and territories to ensure equitable access to information and services, particularly for those groups most vulnerable to poorer health outcomes;
  • aim to improve maternal health outcomes, reduce rates of unplanned pregnancy, and reduce inequalities in access to pregnancy care, contraceptive choice and abortion services;
  • complement and build upon related existing national strategies including those on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, women’s health, men’s health, sexually transmissible infections, LGBTI health, health and disability, migrant and refugee health, and violence prevention; and
  • be underpinned by a human rights approach and a commitment to reducing stigma and enhancing reproductive and sexual health across the lifespan.

The immediate decriminalisation of abortion in all Australian jurisdictions, alongside appropriate, evidence-based health regulations to ensure safe, timely and accessible abortion services.

The introduction of safe access zones in all Australian jurisdictions, to protect patients and professionals from harassment and intimidation while entering or leaving abortion provider premises.

The implementation of a national long acting reversible contraception guideline to improve uptake and remove barriers to effective contraceptive choices faced by vulnerable groups.

The introduction of a national de-identified data collection scheme to report on abortion rates and patient outcomes to enable better service planning and enhance policy responsiveness.

For public health systems, health departments and policy makers to take responsibility for ensuring everyone in their region has equitable access to abortion services (including second and third trimester procedures) and contraceptive services, in particular for rural, regional and remote areas and those experiencing disadvantage and financial difficulties, by utilising a range of care models including GP and nurse led service models.

For transparency in pregnancy counselling advertising to be legislated at a national level to prevent deceptive practices by services ideologically opposed to abortion and to enable health consumers to be informed about the services they access. We also call on government funding to be allocated only to pregnancy counselling services that provide unbiased and evidence-based support on all pregnancy options, including abortion.

A national commitment to a long-term funding increase in Australia’s aid program which has dedicated gender equity targets and includes guaranteed designated funding for reproductive health programs in developing countries to improve the health outcomes for women and girls – including the provision of unbiased and evidence base information and services relating to contraceptive choices, pregnancy and maternity care, birthing, and abortion, according to the laws of the country in which programs are being delivered.


Speaker presentations and conference report

The powerpoints from most speakers can be found below. 

The conference report, including the calls to action and the evaluations from delegates, is available to download as a pdf. 


Presentations: Thursday 3 August, 2017

Morning plenary session: Abortion law reform

Dr Suzanne Belton: WhatRU4NT? campaign, Northern Territory. 

Professor Heather Douglas: TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland.

Julie Hamblin: HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, New South Wales. 


Workshops [no powerpoints used]

Abortion in the context of migration - Branka Bogdan

LGBTIQ affirming practice in reproductive autonomy and sexuality education - Nikki Whitmore


Abortion law reform stream

Abortion law reform on the frontier - Dr Barbara Baird and Dr Suzanne Belton

Improving access to abortion in South Australia - Dr Barbara Baird and Brigid Coombe

Zoe's Law redux: Where to for foetal personhood and decriminalisation? - Claire Pullen

Abortion law reform: Are we focusing to much on the issue and not enough on the politics? - Jenny Ejlak

So you want to be an abortion rights activist? - Anna McCormack [no powerpoint used]


Unplanned pregnancy and contraception stream

Contraception biographies and reproductive justice: the value of life course research in understanding limited uptake of long acting reversible contraception - Dr Jessica Gunson [currently unavailable]

Understanding of long acting reversible contraception amongst women presenting for abortion - Dr Gaithri Mylvaganam [currently unavailable]

Tips and tricks on providing contraception post abortion - Dr Colinette Margerison

Current and future emergency contraception choices in Australia - Dr Helen Calabretto [unavailable]

Let's talk about sex: Results from an anonymous online survey to better understand women's experiences with unprotected sex an their knowledge and use of emergency contraception - Dr Philip Goldstone

To soon to have another baby? Short inter-pregnancy interval in women attending an abortion service - Dr Catriona Melville


The intersection between unplanned pregnancy, abortion and domestic violence stream

White Ribbon Australlia: Developing a position statement of women's reproductive rights - Libby Davies

Identifying and responding to domestic violence in an abortion provision context - Liz Price

Terminating the violence - Samantha Campbell

Implementing a domestic violence and Aboriginal family violence screening tool in an abortion setting - Brooke Calo


Abortion training and maintaining a workforce stream

Touchy subjects: Engaging medical students with abortion, contraception and unplanned pregnancy - Dr Ea Mulligan 

A lost curriculum? Abortion care in general practice training - Dr Simon Wilson

Ensuring a workforce for equitable provision of abortion - Brigid Coombe

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist's Sexual and Reproductive Health Advanced Training Module - Dr Paddy Moore [currently unavailable]


Afternoon plenary session: International perspectives on reproductive health

Senator Claire Moore: Shadow Minister for International Development & the Pacific [no powerpoint used]

Johanna Wicks: International Planned Parenthood Federation, Australia

Chris Turner: Marie Stopes International Australia

Dr Caroline de Costa: Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, James Cook University [currently unavailable]


Presentations: Friday 4 August, 2017

Morning plenary session: Advancements in medical abortion provision

Dr Paul Hyland: Tabbot Foundation

Dr Phillip Goldstone: Marie Stopes International Australia

Elizabeth Powers & Dr Heather McNamee: Cairns Sexual Health Clinic


Facilitating and improving access to abortion stream

Unplanned pregnancy and abortion access: supporting vulnerable groups - Kate Marsh

Hidden women: The impact of poverty on abortion access - Selina Utting, Susan Stark and Nicola Sheeran

Improving safety in abortion care with in situ simulation of emergencies - Dr Simon Wilson

Migration, health literacy and health access - Branka Bogdan


Evolving models of medical abortion stream

Implementation of a medical termination of pregnancy service within a Queensland sexual health clinic - Donna Pini

Transferability of a family planning MTOP clinic model to other primary care settings in Victoria - Phuong Nguyen

Introduction of an abortion service at a family planning clinic in Victoria: A process evaluation - Aaron Osborne

Telemedicine prevents patient abuse - or does it? - Dr Lynette Shumack [currently unavailable]

The nurse role in medication abortion provision: a South Australian experience - Nola Savage

Different ways of providing medical terminations in the community - Dr Colinette Margerison


Counselling and reflection stream

Women's stories of abortion - Michelle Reynolds [currently unavailable]

Use of self: tools for self-awareness in pregnancy options care - Susan Stark and Siân Tooker

Review of worker vicarious trauma after introduction of reflective group supervision at Pregnancy Advisory Service - Louise Logan [currently unavailable]


Supporting all choices stream

Accessing abortion post 20 weeks - Dr Carol Portmann

Counselling and supporting women seeking abortion at 18 to 24 weeks gestation - Trish Hayes, Suzanne Hurley and Chanel Keane [no powerpoint used]

Evaluation/review of the Pregnancy Advisory Service care planning/case management model - Deb Newton [powerpoint unavailable]

Counting on one hand: Reflections on gender selection in prgnancy options counselling - Liz Price [no powerpoint used]

Women's experiences of more than one abortion: Finding from a multi-centre mixed methods study - Dr Catriona Melville


Overcoming challenges in providing abortion stream

Improving medication abortion pathways and practitioner capacity in Melbourne's west: findings of a service audit and needs assessment - Alyce Vella

Implementing termination services in a conservative Queensland town - Dr Colinette Margerison [currently unavailable]

Barriers to access in remote rural Queensland - Kym Boyes [no powerpoint used]

Safe access zones - Dr Ronli Sifris, Emily Howie and Amy Webster


More information

Contact our Education and Training Coordinator Pamela Doherty:  07 3357 9933 (ext 3) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Last modified on: 21 November 2018
Unplanned Pregnancy and Abortion in Australia conference
21 November 2018

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