Article by Wendy Thuoy, Herald Sun Thursday 8 March, 2018. Republished with permission.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy says the government has committed $1.76 million over four years to set up 1800 My Options, which will be operated by the independent not-for-profit, Women’s Health Victoria.
The helpline will operate five days a week, and be staffed by workers trained in sexual and reproductive health issues.
Women’s Health Victoria Executive Director Rita Butera said the service fills a significant need across Victoria for evidence-based, trusted information for women.
“It is a much needed service, a lot of women’s health services right across the state can provide information and stories about women needing information, and the right information, and there’s an absence of it,” Ms Butera said.
“It is a sensitive area for a lot of people, you can’t just talk to anybody about it. Sometimes you need confidential, professional information.”
Family Planning Victoria CEO Claire Vissenga said women in regional towns who may only know the family GP would benefit from the “without fear or favour” helpline.
“It means that for a young woman living in a town like, say Warrnambool, where the family doctor probably delivered them and would be the only place they’d know to go, phoning this service they’d be able to learn about services they could go to in Geelong, or Hamilton or Melbourne,” Ms Vissenga said.
Talking to an operator would remove “the stigma, fear and loss of confidentiality, and ear of the unknown when someone finds themselves with an unintended pregnancy or another reproductive and sexual health matter”.
“Having an advocate, someone to say, ‘Here are the options, and here are the people you can call for help’ is just invaluable,” she said
- 1800 My Options will be live from 19 March.