Australia’s first Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinics are now open. Across the country, twenty clinics will provide expert, multidisciplinary services from specialised staff including nurse practitioners and allied health professionals to care for women with endometriosis and pelvic pain.
Each clinic will receive more than $700,000 over the next four years — a package that is part of the Albanese Government’s $58.3 million fund for endometriosis and pelvic pain, which was announced in the 2022-23 Budget.
The money will go towards each clinic’s specialised equipment, fit-outs such as pelvic physiotherapy units, resources, training and development.
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney MP said that too many women are suffering for years with the debilitating conditions, and that they deserve to have their concerns “taken seriously with better access to specialised care.”
“These Clinics are about providing women with an accessible front door to the care that they need,” Kearney said in a press release this morning.
“Gathering expertise under one roof, fostering that knowledge to improve diagnosis and services, having referral pathways in place – these are all crucial elements to getting the support that women need right.”
The clinics will operate within existing general practices to reduce diagnostic delays and promote early access to the multi-disciplinary intervention, care and treatment of endometriosis and pelvic pain. They will also provide access to information, care options, professional knowledge and skills to raise awareness of the conditions.
“The recognition of endometriosis and pelvic pain as serious conditions has been a long and hard-fought battle from fierce advocates in the sector and in our communities,” Kearney said. “I want to say to those people – thank you and we’re listening.”
“We are a government that is committed to improving women’s health and this is a crucial step forward for part of the population that has too long been dismissed.”
In Australia, endometriosis affects at least 1 in 9 women. The severe inflammatory condition causes frequent intense pelvic pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety and infertility – leading to extensive, devastating impacts on the daily lives of sufferers.
According to several studies, women who suffer from the condition wait an average of seven years before they are officially diagnosed.
Pelvic pain is another complex and debilitating condition affecting up to one in five women. Symptoms include bloating, bowel and bladder troubles, muscle spasms, painful sex, fatigue, anxiety and low mood. According to the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia, the condition costs Australia more than $6 billion annually.
Brisbane-based pelvic health physiotherapist Sue Croft treats many women living with conditions like urinary and bowel leakage, constipation, pelvic organ prolapses, and pelvic pain. In an article she wrote for this masthead last month, Croft explained the silence that blankets the condition she sees too often.
“The consistent feature surrounding pelvic floor dysfunction over time is the silence – mostly due to the private areas that are affected, the fact that women are affected in higher numbers and the negative narratives consistent with shame, disgust and uncleanliness surrounding pelvic health,” she wrote.
Here are the locations of the 20 clinics across Australia:
New South Wales
Orange Family Medical Centre, Orange
Hunters Hill Medical Practice, Hunters Hill
Leichhardt General Practice, Leichhardt, NSW
The Women’s Health Centre Southern Highlands, Mittagong
Milton Medical Centre, Milton
Coffs Harbour Women’s Health Centre, Coffs Harbour
EACH Practice, Ringwood East
Bendigo Community Health Services, Bendigo
Kardinia Health, Belmont
Lyndoch Medical Hub, Warrnambool
MATSICHS (Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Ltd), Morayfield
Benowa Super Clinic, Benowa
Family Planning Queensland, Cairns
Neighbourhood Medical, Bardon
Pioneer Health Albany, Albany
The Garden Family Medical Clinic, Murdoch
Kadina Medical Associates, Kadina
Family Planning Tasmania, Glenorchy
Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT), Canberra
Northside Health Darwin, Coconut Grove