Providing More Choice in Maternity Care – Access to Medicare and PBS for Midwives

Families will have greater choice in the type of care they wish to receive when having a baby, under a $120.5 million package of reforms to maternity services.

Page last updated: 12 May 2009

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12 May 2009

The 2009-10 Budget includes a $120.5 million package of measures to improve choice and access to maternity services for pregnant women and new mothers in Australia.

As a result of this package, families will have greater choice in the type of care they wish to receive when having a baby. The package also recognises the important role played by qualified midwives in the birthing experience of many Australian women.

Responding to the recently completed national Maternity Services Review, the package includes:

  • Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) benefits for services provided by eligible midwives, to provide greater access to maternity care provided by midwives working in collaboration with doctors – expanding choice for women.
  • A Government-supported professional indemnity insurance scheme for eligible midwives.
  • More services for rural and remote communities, where the state of maternity services is poor, through an expansion of the successful Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program (MSOAP).
  • Extra scholarships for GPs and midwives to expand the maternity workforce, particularly in rural and remote Australia.
  • A new 24 hour, seven days a week telephone helpline and information service to provide women, their partners and families with greater access to maternity information and support before and after birth.
These arrangements will be subject to agreement with states and territories on a National Maternity Services Plan – who will be asked to make complementary commitments and investments, particularly around the provision of birthing centres and rural maternity units.

The Government’s commitment to a National Maternity Services Plan recognises the importance attached to maternity services by the over 270,000 Australian women who give birth each year, and their families.

All Australian women deserve access to safe, high quality maternity services. This package of maternity services reforms responds to the growing pressure on our maternity services as the number of births continues to rise and workforce shortages worsen – by making better use of the midwifery workforce while maintaining current high standards of safety and quality.

The package will be implemented progressively with new Medicare arrangements for midwives beginning from 1 November 2010.

For all inquiries please contact the Minister's office – 02 6277 7220

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