South-west women will have greater access to sexual and reproductive services, including abortions, with a new health clinic announced for Warrnambool.
The hub will provide information and services on contraception, pregnancy options and sexual health.
It will also provide medical abortions up to nine weeks or referrals to the appropriate service beyond nine weeks.
Warrnambool is one of three regional centres to get a hub, which was announced by the state government this week.
South West Healthcare will operate the clinic and services will be progressively introduced over the next four years. It is one of 11 in regional Victoria.
The hub locations were identified based on current demand and the availability of local women's sexual and reproductive health services in the area.
Women's Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West chief executive officer Emma Mahony welcomed the hub but said it also pointed to a "significant problem in our region".
She said the region needed "greatly improved" sexual and reproductive health service in various places, rather than "one unique hub".
"There's not a great focus on sexual reproductive health in conventional medicine so it's a bit of the luck of the draw (who you get and their understanding and knowledge in that area)".
Ms Mahony said currently south-west residents travelled for a termination.
"Right across Victoria the vast majority are being referred to the Royal Women's Hospital in Melbourne because many are experiencing barriers to accessing the services locally," she said.
"In something like abortion, practitioners can exercise their conscientious objection so they can refrain from providing services.
"It's been legal in Victoria since 2008 and accessing it in a health service often isn't published or clear."
Ms Mahony said currently people went to their GP for information but the "level of services provided around sex and reproduction in our region is really poor".
"Legally and ethically practitioners must provide a referral for an abortion but what I find anecdotally is many women won't get good information."
She said many women also didn't receive evidence-based information or accurate and timely referrals which were critical.
"It takes time for a woman to discover she's pregnant and access appropriate care," Ms Mahony said.
"It has to be swift. You need to get the right people at the right time."
Ms Mahony said constructive conversations around sex, relationships and reproduction needed to be normalised to help break down stigmas.
The social norms that limited people accessing education and support also needed addressing, she said.
"There's a breadth of health and ill health right across sex and reproduction that's not being well considered and thus not well thought through in service delivery and even more so in our small regional and rural communities," Ms Mahony said.
The hubs can provide services including facilitating diagnosis and management of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), menopause and endometriosis, and promote local access to cervical screening and Breast Screen services.
Staff will have training and support via Sexual Health Victoria (formerly Family Planning Victoria), Royal Women's Hospital and the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health.
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