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  • Victorians still can't access sexual health services

    Author: AAP

Victoria's health department does not know whether its sexual and reproductive health hubs are actually helping more people access support services.

There are 11 hubs across regional and metropolitan areas, providing services like contraception, abortion and testing for sexually transmitted infections.

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But a report from the Victorian Auditor-General, released on Wednesday, found the health department does not know whether the hubs are improving Victorians' access to sexual health services.

The department does not have an understanding of service gaps and demands across the state, the report said, nor does it have measures to monitor the hubs' performance.

Between 2016 and 2020, the Victorian government invested $6.89 million to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Nearly 60 per cent of funding went towards establishing the first eight hubs and the 1800 My Options hotline, which answers callers questions around reproductive and sexual health.

The department commissioned a review of service gaps before it established the hubs, but the auditor-general found it failed to determine the number and location of service providers.

There are still five local government areas in rural Victoria without a registered service provider, while 10 areas have only one.

The auditor-general also found there is considerable demand for services in the growing metropolitan regions of Wyndham, Hume, Melton and Whittlesea.

There are no hubs in those government areas.

"Our analysis of available information suggests that current hub locations are not consistent with women's sexual and reproductive health needs across the state," the report said.

"The department could make better use of available service demand data to understand where to put its hubs to best improve SRH service access."

The auditor-general recommended the department undertake a comprehensive service demand and gap analysis for the whole of Victoria.

It should also develop relevant performance measures for the hubs and hotline, as well as work with department-funded service providers to confirm and implement performance reporting requirements.

In a letter to the auditor-general, health department secretary Euan Wallace accepted the recommendations and outlined the department's planned changes.

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