Improving maternity services in Australia: the report of the Maternity Services Review

3. Inequality of Outcomes and Access

Page last updated: February 2009

While our system delivers to most Australian women, access to quality maternity services and positive outcomes from pregnancy, this is not uniform, as some parts of Australia and some population groups experience poorer access and outcomes. As with health care services more broadly, the difficulties faced by many Australians in accessing necessary services in rural areas has been highlighted to the Review Team. Similarly, the poorer access and outcomes for Indigenous mothers and babies were identified by many as the most pressing national issue.

In considering the inequalities within our current maternity system, the Review has focused on the issues of access to maternity services for Indigenous mothers and their babies and for mothers and babies living in rural and remote Australia. At the same time, the Review Team acknowledges that inequalities in both access to services and outcomes can be the result for some individuals and population subgroups of other factors such as socioeconomic status, risk factors, and existing service delivery arrangements. The range of targeted initiatives and services, both within and outside the health sector, that currently exist or that could be considered by governments to address these inequalities is recognised by the Review but has not been part of its detailed considerations.