Family Planning Queensland
|Motto||Sexual and Reproductive Health for All|
|Purpose||To promote and achieve sexual and reproductive health|
|Affiliations||Family Planning Alliance Australia|
Family Planning Queensland (FPQ) t/a True Relationships & Reproductive Health (True) is an expert provider of clinic services and education relating to reproductive and sexual health. Founded in 1972, True is a non-profit organisation that serves nine regional centres across Queensland. During 2015, the organisation changed its trading name from FPQ to True.
True is a secondary health provider, which plays an important role in the referral pathways between general practice and hospitals. The organisation is well known for its strong subject-matter focus and non-judgemental approach and its clinic service portfolio includes services that GPs do not necessarily provide such as colposcopy and procedural contraception.
In addition to its clinics, True is a leading provider of education and training for clinicians. It is a member of Family Planning Alliance Australia (FPAA) and conducts the FPAA National Certificate in Sexual & Reproductive Health for Doctors, in addition to a wide variety of other courses.
In the community, True supports schools, parents and community groups with education tailored to their specific needs. The historical focus on reproductive and sexual health is increasingly supplemented by respectful relationships education, responding to community concerns about domestic violence and sexual abuse.
The oral contraceptive pill became available in Australia in 1961 against a backdrop of great social and political change. Until 1969 however, New South Wales was the only state to offer family planning services through the Family Planning Association of Australia. In the subsequent few years, independent family planning associations were formed in all the other states.
Queensland remained relatively conservative, especially about sexuality. Sexuality education in schools was minimal, teenage pregnancy in Queensland was the highest in Australia, abortion was illegal and access to contraception was limited. Marriage was usually a pre-requisite for contraceptive counselling. In 1970, the Queensland branch of the Abortion Law Reform Association (later Children by Choice) was formed, and along with the Queensland branch of Women’s Electoral Lobby started campaigning for family planning facilities, sex education in schools and legal and safe abortion.
Within this context, FPQ was formed following a two-day conference with the joint sponsorship of the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Its aims were to provide clinic and training facilities, and to make information freely available.
The first FPQ clinic opened in Fortitude Valley in March 1972 with the aid of volunteer members. Voluntary committees established services in Cairns, Townsville, and Rockhampton later in 1972, and at the Gold Coast the following year. In 1974, with funding provided by the Commonwealth government, clinics opened in Ipswich and Mount Gravatt. The Toowoomba and Sunshine Coast centres were established in 1986 and 1989 respectively.
Today FPQ works in nine regional centres located in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast. From these sites FPQ provides a range of clinical, education, training and information services in the area of sexual and reproductive health.
True receives income from a wide variety of sources. Queensland Health provides funding mainly to support the delivery of clinic services for women, especially services that require a greater deal of expertise or specialised equipment. True is also funded by other departments of the Queensland Government to coordinate specific projects and services. These include counselling services provided to children and families by the Cairns Sexual Assault Service and a multicultural health program that aims to stop female genital mutilation. True has also been successful in obtaining grant income to carry out projects and create resources, some of which have gone on to contribute income to the organisation over the years. The organisation rents out its meeting rooms to supplement income and licenses intellectual property such as its well-known Traffic Lights suit of products. Additionally, True receives income each year from donors and members.
True has four service lines:
- Clinic services, which provides expert reproductive and sexual health services to women across the lifespan
- Clinical education and training, which trains doctors and nurses
- Community education, which provides education to schools, families and community groups
- Cairns Sexual Assault Service
True serves women and men of all ages, although 97% of its clinic clients are female. The clinic is positioned as a second-tier service, where general practice is primary health and hospitals are tertiary level. In practice, that means the clinic helps to reduce hospital waiting lists by providing services in a community setting that would otherwise be referred to hospitals. The services provided cover the full breadth of reproductive and sexual health and clients can make appointments independently or on referral from GPs or a hospital. Each year, True provides services to approximately 20,000 clients in its clinics.
The training of doctors and nurses is an important part of True's social mission. When FPQ was first formed, it was because of the dearth of trained clinicians with an interest in women's health. Today, having trained thousands of clinicians, True has facilitated a much larger number of trained clinicians to serve the population. As a result, True now offers more complex services, focusing less on services that GPs can provide.
True offers comprehensive education to schools, families and community groups. Educators provide sexual information for primary and high school students, tertiary students, parents and families, youth groups, people with disabilities and their carers, older people, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other community groups. Each year, True provides services to approximately 30,000 people through its education programs.
True has historically acted as a publisher of trusted resources for schools and other groups. True's work in the area of child safety has yielded one of the best selling books in Australia, 'Everyone's got a bottom.' It also led to the publication of the Traffic Lights framework, which is widely used in Australia and internationally as a way to quickly identify, understand and respond to child sexual behaviours. The Traffic Lights framework has since been incorporate into a book called 'Is This Normal?' and a Traffic Lights app
In the 1970s, Queensland lagged other Australian states in the adoption of in-school education. In March 1981, the Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, stated that:
- NSW has become an object lesson in so many ways for other States on what you must not do if you wish to maintain decent standards. Morally, the subject [of sexual education] is fraught with danger for any government.
This argument boils down to the idea that ignorance is the same thing as innocence. However, experience and research from other jurisdictions has shown that education delays the onset of sexual activity, reduces the incidence of risky sexual behaviour that lead to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
The inclusion of relationships and sexuality education in Australia's national curriculum reflects mainstream recognition of the importance of this information, although the exact nature of content and delivery are occasionally contested.
True has maintained a neutral position in its engagement with different political parties, working effectively with conservatives and progressive groups alike. This has been important to the success of the organisation, ensuring high levels of trust with successive administrations over its 40+ year history. The organisation has won numerous awards throughout its history for its innovation and service and has seen its approach gain acceptance as many other organisations copy its approach and philosophy.
- Hancock, David. “Sex Lessons Please Parents and Teachers, but not Joh.” The Australian 19 Mar. 1981. Print.