Online Project Showcase

Promoting women's reproductive health rights in Australia

  • Organisation:

    Human Rights Law Centre

  • ABN or Auspicing Organisation:


  • Scope of Activity:


  • Geographic Location:

    National, but with focus on New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria over the next 12 months

  • Target Groups:



Funding Information

  • Total Funding Required (AUD):


  • Current Funding (AUD):


  • Funding Needed (AUD):


  • Tax Deductability Status (DGR):


  • Tax Concession Status (TCC):


  • DGR Additional Information:


  • Other Funding Partners:

    We multiply the impact of funding through pro bono partnerships with leading law firms and barristers. For every dollar of funding we receive, we leverage around four times that value in pro bono support.

Project Information

  • Project Commencement Date:
  • 28 May 2018
  • Project Completion Date:
  • 27 May 2019
  • What issues are addressed?:
  • All women should have the freedom to make decisions about their bodies and lives, and the right to safely and privately access reproductive health services. Yet many abortion laws around Australia restrict the right of women to make these important decisions. Many women are also confronted with harassment by anti-abortionists when trying to access vital reproductive health services.

    In QLD, NSW, SA and WA, abortion is still criminalised and women and doctors still risk criminal prosecution. Elsewhere, reproductive health protections that do exist are under threat - in VIC and TAS, safe access zones are being challenged in the High Court by anti-abortionists.

    The majority of people in Australia support women's safe access to abortion. It's time for our laws to reflect our social values, human rights standards and modern medical practice. It's time for our laws to protect a woman's right to make decisions about her body.
  • Project Description:
  • It is a crucial time for women's reproductive rights in Australia. QLD is reviewing its 100 year old abortion laws and pressure is mounting in NSW for laws creating safe access zones around clinics.
    The HRLC seeks funding to ensure reproductive freedom and safe access to reproductive health care for women. Over the next 12 months, we will work to ensure:
    1. abortion is regulated as a health matter rather than a criminal justice matter in QLD;
    2. we build momentum for decriminalisation of abortion in NSW and other Australian jurisdictions;
    3. safe access zone laws are upheld as constitutionally valid by the High Court, and are introduced in QLD and NSW.

    Our deep subject matter, legal and advocacy expertise, combined with strong partnerships across legal and health sectors, means we are well-placed to achieve these goals.
  • Alleviating suffering / disadvantage?:
  • There is overwhelming evidence that restricting women's access to abortion is bad for women's health. Laws that force women into continuing with unwanted pregnancies push them towards harmful and medically dangerous options. Anti-abortion abuse and harassment outside clinics can cause women long-term distress. Doctors want to care for their patient's mental and physical health the best way they can, current laws undermine this.

    Removing abortion from the criminal statute books of each state and territory and introducing laws that respect women's right to choose what happens to their bodies will improve women's access to vital reproductive health care.

    The creation of safe access zones around abortion clinics will prevent women suffering harm as they attempt to get to the front door of private clinics and hospitals providing abortion services.
  • Changing Policy, Practices & Systems?:
  • This project aims to eliminate laws and policies that discriminate against women by creating barriers to reproductive health care. This means removing abortion from criminal laws and ensuring that new laws give women the right to choose what happens to their bodies in consultation with their doctor.

    In addition, this project involves defending existing laws that guarantee that women can enter reproductive health clinics safely and privately and without fear of abuse or harassment.

    We will build on momentum in QLD and NSW and advocate directly to parliamentarians in those states. We will equip civil society to push for laws that comply with women's basic rights. We will use court action and advocacy to defend safe access zones laws in Victoria and Tasmania.

  • Investing in or empowering women?:
  • It is estimated that around one in four women will have an abortion in their lifetime in Australia. We will work closely with women's rights organisations and ensure that women's voices are heard in advocacy. Within the HRLC, the work will be led by women. Many women advocating for abortion law reform have had an abortion, however understandably will not disclose this fact in advocacy. We will work with health professionals to identify women who want to speak out about their personal experiences, however as abortion is a private and often sensitive matter, this will not always be possible.
  • Media / Promotion?:
  • Consistent polling shows that most Australian's support women having a right to choose whether to have an abortion in consultation with their doctor. Peak medical bodies also support removing arbitrary restrictions to abortion services. Communicating to the public and politicians that reforms are consistent with community values and modern medical practice through strategic media and social media engagement will be vital to positive reforms being passed.

    Strategic public advocacy is key to the work that HRLC does. We will harness our media expertise and work collaboratively with health and women's organisations to push for reforms.
  • How is success evaluated / measured?:
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of litigation and advocacy to change laws and policies, or resist negative changes, must consider the complexity of public policy making, the role of external forces, the difficulty of determining causation and the long time frames often involved. In our work, we identify actions that contribute to positive changes or resist negative changes. We evaluate the effectiveness of intermediate actions aimed at longer term change, using qualitative and quantitative measures drawing on our theory of change.

    In this project we will qualitatively analyse the outcome of legal action and advocacy. We will trace our contribution to changes to law or policy, political commitments and the advocacy environment.

    We will also analyse our media and social media for coverage, reach, women's representation, and impact on the advocacy environment.

Contact Information

  • Contact Person:

    Hugh de Kretser & Adrianne Walters

  • Email:

  • Website:

    Click Here

  • Phone:

    0432 049 383