About the Stoma Appliance Scheme

The Stoma Appliance Scheme provides free stoma appliances and products to people who have a stoma (ostomates), through their stoma association. Find out what a stoma is, what the scheme does and who can access it.

What a stoma is

When someone has surgery to remove part or all of their bladder, bowel or colon, the surgeon will make a temporary or permanent opening in their abdomen to evacuate bodily waste. This opening is called a stoma.

People with a stoma wear a disposable bag (or 'stoma appliance') to cover the stoma and collect the waste.

They might also need other products, such as deodorants, creams, cleansers and belts.

The Stoma Appliance Scheme Schedule

Our Stoma Appliance Scheme Schedule lists all the appliances and products we subsidise under the scheme.

Ostomates, stomal therapy nurses and other health professionals can search and filter the scheme schedule through an online tool.

Suppliers can apply to list their product on the scheme schedule if it meets a clinical need.

Why the scheme is important

In Australia, more than 47,000 people have a stoma – referred to as ‘ostomates’.

The Stoma Appliance Scheme provides free stoma appliances and products to these ostomates through 21 stoma associations.

Ostomates pay an annual membership fee to one of the associations, who order stoma products from suppliers, and distribute them to their members, as needed.

This saves each ostomate an average of $2,000 per year, enabling them to maintain their health and wellbeing, and to live their lives normally. The scheme provided almost $100 million worth of stoma appliances and products in 2019–20.

Read more about stomas and living with an ostomy from the Australian Association of Stomal Therapy Nurses.

Who can access the scheme

To be eligible for free stoma appliances and products under the scheme, you must have at least one stoma and either:

  • have a Medicare or Department of Veterans’ Affairs number if living in Australia
  • have an Australian Reciprocal Medicare number if living in reciprocal country
  • have a passport number if living in New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland.

Read more about accessing the scheme.

Who we work with

We set the policy for the scheme, and manage the scheme schedule and approval process.

Working with us to deliver the scheme are:

Status of the scheme

Consultation

In 2019, to make sure the Stoma Appliance Scheme is meeting current needs, we asked ostomates and other stakeholders about their views of the scheme.

We received more than 2,000 responses to this consultation. While most responses to the consultation were positive, people said we could improve the scheme by:

  • having consistent ordering and distribution arrangements, including access to an online ordering capability for ostomates
  • reducing costs – although ostomates receive products free, the annual association membership fee and monthly postage costs can add financial pressure
  • giving ostomates better education about managing a stoma and the scheme.

Read our summary of consultation responses.

Although the formal consultation period has ended, you can tell us what you think at any time.

You can also see how much we spend each year on which appliances and products under the scheme.

Addressing the consultation feedback

We then asked our stakeholders for their views on how we could best address this feedback.

We sought proposals on how we can:

  • improve how products and appliances are distributed to ostomates
  • better support ostomates through education and peer-to-peer support
  • make sure ostomates have access to health professionals to help them identify the best products for them.

We are now reviewing submissions.

This process aims to gather information. We are not changing the scheme. Should we plan to do so in the future, we would let ostomates and other stakeholders know in advance to give them time to prepare.

Contact

Stoma Appliance Scheme and the Stoma Product Assessment Panel contact

Contact us for more information about the Stoma Appliance Scheme or the Stoma Product Assessment Panel, or to apply for the panel to assess one of your products for the Stoma Appliance Scheme Schedule.

stoma [at] health.gov.au

View contact

Last updated: 
3 February 2021

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