Pregnancy Advisory Centre marks significant milestone

Central Adelaide Local Health Network’s Pregnancy Advisory Centre (PAC), Australia’s only dedicated, publicly funded service for women with an unplanned pregnancy, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this week.

Established in 1992, the service offers non-judgmental, client-centred multidisciplinary health services for women, including:

  • information and support for women and those with an unplanned pregnancy
  • medication and surgical options for termination of pregnancy
  • professional counselling.

PAC Medical Coordinator, Dr Jane Baird, said the centre’s 30 years of operation was a significant milestone.

“At its inception it was the only service in Australia that was a purpose-specific, publicly funded abortion centre not located in a hospital,” Dr Baird said.

“PAC was established because South Australian women were really dissatisfied that after legalisation, abortion services were only being provided in maternity hospitals or part of an obstetrics program,” she said.

“It was important that it sat outside a maternity hospital as it was challenging for clients to be sitting in family clinic alongside other patients with prams and small children, or in a bed next to women in labor.

“So, we’re really proud to be celebrating the inception 30 years ago of this progressive, forward-thinking service,” she said.

It was vital women were able to access range of services when facing an unplanned pregnancy, Dr Baird said.

“This is often a significant time in that person’s life and can result in that person having to make major decisions.

“That decision can be made easier if you have access to person-centred, non-judgmental support.

“Our team is skilled at providing women with information to allow them make to their own decision that best suits their personal circumstances,” she said.

The multi-disciplinary 40-strong team comprised nurses, midwives, social workers, medical staff and an administration team.

“Our frontline administration team has a vital role as they are usually the first contact with clients who can often be quite distressed.”

The centre offers surgical and medical abortion options.

“One option is not better than the other, clients are able to choose the option that best suits their social, family or economic circumstances.”

Dr Baird said the pandemic had resulted in an increased demand for the service.

“The pandemic has placed many people under added social pressure and has disproportionately affected women,” she said.

“Many women and pregnant people visiting our centre say they feel they cannot manage another child at the moment, perhaps their economic situation has altered as their work is now more unpredictable, or they are in casual work with no access to maternity leave.

“Also, many young people have got a lot of financial stress and don’t feel optimistic for the future.

“All these factors contribute to the decision to become a parent.”

Dr Baird said she was proud of the team and gained a lot of satisfaction from being able to support people “making some really life-altering decisions”.

“For a lot of people, it is a real cross-roads moment in their life where they need to make a conscious decision about their future,” she said.

“They may choose to continue or end a relationship that is detrimental to their health and wellbeing; to pursue or continue training or education; or focus on the family they have.

“I really like being part of supporting them to make positive decisions in their lives and to be able to make a difference to their future.

“We have a really great team at PAC and I feel proud to work with a team like this,” Dr Baird said.