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Family Planning

Page history last edited by mwilson@... 9 years, 11 months ago

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BSL’s Family Planning Clinic opened for a 3-month trial period. 



BSL’s Family Planning Clinic established in Fitzroy in July 1967 as a pilot project for low income families, prompted by concern expressed by the Victorian Council of Social Service.  What had once been a ham & beef shop at 75A Brunswick Street became in the 1960s the first comprehensive Family Planning Clinic in Victoria; upstairs offices were provided for the expanding Community Aid Abroad and downstairs later became a new Material Aid Centre.  [1]



In its second year (1968-1969) the Family Planning Clinic saw 381 new patients.  As well as advising on all methods of contraception, the clinic took routine cancer smears and referred for further investigation problems of infertility, and gynaecological conditions.  At the same time, the Brotherhood questioned whether it was appropriate for a welfare agency to provide a medical service, or whether this should be included in existing government health schemes.     In 1969 the Commonwealth introduced free health insurance, but the greatest number of family incomes fell within the $40-$49 range, missing out on that cover “by a hair’s breadth”.   [2]


The Sidney Myer Charity Trust gave the Family Planning Clinic $1,200 to provide an extra clinic session and to pay the salary of a social worker to do a survey of the attitudes of people attending the clinic (some attended from as far away as Loch in the east, Seymour in the north and Bacchus Marsh in the west.) 


The Brotherhood published a booklet Action for Family Planning, on sale at booksellers and newsagents (60 cents), recommending that the State Government accept the responsibility to provide, within the framework of existing medical services, family planning services for low income families



Demand on the BSL's Family Planning Clinic in Fitzroy required an additional session from February, bringing the total to four weekly sessions, two in the morning and two in the evening.  Over the previous three years, 1062 patients attended the clinic.  Five doctors, six trained nurses and one BSL staff member were on the clinic staff during 1970.  After assessment based on income, rent and the number of dependants, one-third of the total number of patients made no payment for services received and only a small proportion paid the maximum fee.  The Brotherhood  requested a subsidy for the clinic from the State Government [3]



In its fourth year of operation the Family Planning Clinic was attended by 709 patients, 346 of whom were new. The clinic reduced the number of weekly sessions from three to two from October, given the establishment of clinics by the Family Planning Association, hospitals and a number of municipal councils.  The decision was taken to close the clinic at the end of 1972. [4]  [5]



The BSL's Family Planning Clinic was phased out over 6 months, reducing to one weekly session and closing on 19 December.  Over that time patients were referred to the most appropriate clinic and the closure coincided with the opening of a clinic by the Fitzroy Council in November.  This was staffed by Dr Helen Church who had been the medical officer for the BSL's evening clinic for the previous five years.



BSL protest letter re closure of family planning clinics by Victorian State Government [6]

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  1. The address was between 73-79 Brunswick Street. BSL Annual Report 1967-1968 p.8. See Janet Paterson in Catherine Magree (ed.) Looking forward, looking back: The Brotherhood’s role in changing views of poverty 1993 pp.6-7 (BSL Library 362.506094 BRO). See also draft letter over name of Alison McClelland, Director - Social Policy & Research (18 March 1993)
  2. BSL Annual Report 1968-1969 p.6 A grant from the Sidney Myer Charitable Trust made possible a survey of patient’s attitudes and opinions (begun in June 1969) and interviews gave “valuable information about the best location for family planning services and strongly pointing up the need for better sex education before marriage. The demand for the clinic is now sufficient to justify a strong voice calling for government assistance, the more so since the recent decision not to hold an enquiry into abortion.” The National Council of Women decided to sponsor the establishment of a branch of the Family Planning Association of Australia in Victoria. The Brotherhood commented that “this, after all, is another voluntary body and family planning should not have to proceed without government support”.
  3. BSL Annual Report 1970 p.10
  4. BSL Annual Report 1971-1972
  5. "Another notable achievement is the establishment of Family Planning Clinics in infant welfare centres. This suggestion first came from the UAW in 1967, and was later taken up by the Brotherhood of St Laurence. The Premier, Hamer, has now promised a Family Planning Clinic in every welfare centre." Years of Carrying the Banner, Joan Curlewis, 1975 State Library of Victoria cited in WOMEN WORKING TOGETHER - suffrage and onwards, Appendix 1 - Papers from the Women's Movement at http://home.vicnet.net.au/~women/Appendix%201%20Papers.htm
  6. Draft letter over name of Alison McClelland, Director - Social Policy & Research (18 March 1993)

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