What a stoma is
When someone has surgery to remove part or all of their bladder, bowel or colon, a surgeon will make a temporary or permanent opening in their abdomen to allow for the removal of 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 to manage their stoma.
Stoma Appliance Scheme Schedule
The Stoma Appliance Scheme Schedule lists all appliances and products subsidised by the Australian Government under the scheme.
Ostomates, stomal therapy nurses and other health professionals can search and filter the scheme schedule through an online tool to view all products.
Suppliers can apply to list their product on the scheme schedule if it meets a clinical need.
Why the scheme is important
In Australia around 50,000 people have a stoma. People with a stoma are referred to as ‘ostomates’.
The Stoma Appliance Scheme provides free stoma appliances and products to ostomates through stoma associations.
Ostomates pay an annual membership fee to one of the associations, which order stoma products from suppliers, and distribute them to their members, as needed.
This saves each ostomate an average of over $2,000 per year, enabling them to maintain their health and wellbeing, and to live their lives normally. The scheme provided ostomates with over $100 million worth of stoma appliances and products in 2021-22.
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 a stoma and have a current:
- Medicare or Department of Veterans’ Affairs number if living in Australia
- Australian Reciprocal Medicare number if you usually live in a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement country, or
- passport number if you usually live 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's schedule and approval process.
Working with us to deliver the scheme are:
- the Stoma Product Assessment Panel which assesses applications for new listings and recommends any changes to the stoma products and appliances listed on the scheme schedule
- the Australian Council of Stoma Associations (ACSA) which is the peak body representing stoma associations, and monitors their compliance with scheme guidelines
- stoma associations which – distribute products to their members
- Services Australia which – processes claims for payments from the stoma associations.
The resources page provides copies of guidelines, the Stoma Appliance Schedule, forms for ostomates and suppliers, Stoma Product Assessment Panel public summary documents and utilisation and expenditure data.