The ANU Women’s Department announced that from 21 March that it is subsidising 50 percent of the cost of birth control for any undergraduate students making a purchase at the University Pharmacy in Kambri. Woroni delves into what prompted the Women’s Department to fund this subsidy and its longevity.

The subsidy covers the contraceptive pill, contraceptive implants, contraceptive injections and intrauterine devices (IUDs). Students can only access the subsidy for one filled prescription at a time, through showing an undergraduate student ID card. Thus, students cannot use it for all their repeats at once, which ANUSA explains is to ensure the association can spread the funding support amongst as many students as possible. 

The initiative is funded through the Women’s Department’s $20,000 share of the Department Funding Pool funded by ANUSA and allocated by the ANUSA Department Officers. The Women’s Department will be seeking more funding in other forms in the future to sustain an ongoing subsidy.

ANUSA Women’s Officer Avan Daruwalla told Woroni that this measure was implemented because of the “high price” that Department members pay to “access this oppressive form of necessary healthcare” used as “contraceptives or otherwise.” 

Daruwalla emphasised that birth control is “often the best and safest option for many students seeking to prevent pregnancy, regulate periods, alleviate painful periods, relieve endometriosis and PCOS, treat acne or regulate hormones.” In fact, two thirds of Australian women aged 18 to 49 either use some form of temporary contraception or engage in permanent contraceptive protection. 

However, the Women’s Officer also acknowledged the “adverse effects” of the “often problematic form of medication” of birth control on users “including on their mental health.” Indeed, recent studies have shown that women using the combined oral contraceptive pill were significantly more depressed than their peers. 

Ultimately, Daruwalla foregrounded that “it is unconscionable that birth control is not further subsidised or made free by the government and the Women’s Department would love to play a part in supporting students to access this necessary healthcare.” 

Students are advised that there are limited funds available for this subsidy and that it may run out quickly.