TEENAGE pregnancies in Ballarat are increasing, despite a statewide decrease in young mothers.
Women’s Health Grampians (WHG) figures show the 2011 teenage fertility rate in Ballarat was 12 births per 1000 females aged 15 to 19, compared to just nine across Victoria.
The Grampians region also had the highest regional rate of chlamydia in Victoria, recording 361.2 cases per 100,000 of population, with Ballarat registering a rate of 430.8.
Horsham and Ararat fared poorly, with both towns recording a teenage fertility rate up to 3.5 times higher than the state average, plus chlamydia rates of 558.5 and 415.8 respectively.
WHG acting chief executive officer Jaclyn Reriti said there were still barriers for rural women to access family planning services.
“Statewide research developed by the regional women’s health services highlights concerns about privacy, availability of services, travel and a lack of information,” Ms Reriti said.
She said WHG was working with its partners to reduce distances women need to travel for sexual health services, to improve sexual health information access and to raise awareness of making sexual health a priority.
Ms Reriti said there were concerns about limited access to specific sexual health services and testing for diseases, such as chlamydia.
“Privacy may also play a role in smaller communities with concerns about a lack of anonymity when requesting services, testing or even buying condoms.”
She said it was important to raise awareness of regular testing.
Ms Reriti said a major barrier for women accessing family planning services was availability, including limited access to local services, female GPs, waiting times and opening hours of clinics or pharmacies, and travel.