Women's Health In the North

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Victoria’s leading network of women’s health organisations has welcomed the Allan Government’s investment in the health, wellbeing and safety of Victorian women and the focus on cost of living relief for families.

The Victorian Women’s Health Services Network (WHSN) welcomes this year’s focus on cost of living relief for families and the additional $269 million towards the safety of women and children, in addressing gender-based violence.

WHSN Chair and Women’s Health Loddon Mallee Chief Executive Officer Tricia Currie, said the network is pleased to see that in spite of the expected budget tightening measures, the Victorian Government has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to gender and health equality, and to addressing gender-based violence.

“Our network acknowledges the challenging nature of the State’s finances. Through this budget, the Allan Government has succeeded in recognising the value of investing in the equitable health and wellbeing of Victorians, which the WHSN has demonstrated will produce a return on equity.”

“This year’s focus on cost of living and investment in health, wellbeing and prevention will continue momentum towards a safer, more equitable Victoria,” Ms Currie said.

“The reduction of cost of living pressures, which we know disproportionately impacts women, is a welcome focus of the 2024/25 state budget.

“Because economic security is a social determinant of health, we are cautiously optimistic that measures within the budget to offer economic relief to families and strengthen women’s economic inclusion will contribute to increased access to health and wellbeing.”

Ms Currie said the network was supportive of the Gender Equality Budget Statement, particularly the move to embed gender responsive budgeting into legislation.

“As international best-practice, gender responsive budgeting acknowledges the importance of considering the suite of initiatives and investment within the budget through a gender lens,” Ms Currie said.

“This can be seen within the Gender Equality Budget Statement which acknowledges the crucial interaction between gender inequity and areas like housing, mental health, employment and opportunities to participate in public life.”

The Gender Equality Budget Statement also includes a particular focus on women’s pain and specific health needs, including sexual and reproductive health.

“The Allan Government’s focus on addressing the gender pain gap through an ongoing Inquiry supports the improvement of sexual and reproductive health, an area we would ideally like to see attracting greater investment in future budgets,” Ms Currie said.

“While we still have a long road to travel towards a gender equal Victoria, as has been keenly demonstrated by the devastating toll of gender-based violence this year, the State Government continues to show leadership in this space.”

“We know that effective prevention, early intervention and response to gender-based violence requires sustained, long-term investment and adequate resourcing.”

Ms Currie said the Victorian Government’s acknowledgement of the intersecting experiences of Victorian women within the budget was crucial to meeting women’s health needs.

“The focus on tailored support for women of intersecting identities, including transgender women, women with disabilities and women from migrant and refugee backgrounds within our healthcare system shows that the Government is striving to improve health equity,” Ms Currie said.

“While the Victorian Women’s Health Services Network is pleased with this budget’s focus and commitment to health and gender equity, it is crucial to acknowledge that we still have a long way to go in achieving optimal health, wellbeing and safety for all Victorians.”

Gender Analysis:

The Women’s Health Services Network and GenVic will produce a joint gender analysis of the 2024/25 Victorian State Budget over the next two weeks.

Further contact:

Helen Riseborough, Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Health In the North

Phone: 03 9484 1666

About Women’s Health Services Network

The Women’s Health Services Network has been a driving force progressing and shaping Victoria’s women’s health and equality space for four decades. While our services were established and funded independently of one another, collaboration has been a strong part of our history. Today, the 12 women’s health services funded through the state government’s Victorian Women’s Health Program collaborate under the title the ‘Victorian Women’s Health Services Network’. This enables us to work as a coordinated, mutually-reinforcing statewide network comprising both place-based and specialist services.

In 2024, Women’s Health In the North will be proudly promoting the International Women’s Day (IWD) theme ‘Count Her In: Accelerating Gender Equality through Economic Empowerment’.

#CountHerIn highlights that women’s economic empowerment is central to realising women’s rights and gender equality. For more information about the 2024 theme see UN Women’s web page here.

The theme also aligns with WHIN’s Economic Equality work. Our financial capability program, ‘Let’s Talk Money’ has been positively impacting the lives of more than 1,600 multicultural women and their families in our region since 2017. We are expanding the program this year to drive economic gender equity and create pathways to greater economic inclusion for women and gender-diverse people across the whole of Victoria. Look out for our monthly e-News and social media pages for progress on this exciting work.

WHIN is again adopting and aligning our IWD theme with two credible, international organisations: UN Women Australia and International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA). Each organisation has a long history of advocating for women’s rights and gender equality internationally with the message ‘women’s rights are human rights’.

IWD was first borne out of labour movements for women’s rights at the turn of the 20th century in North America and across Europe. The social justice movement was grassroots until 1975, International Women’s Year, when the United Nations adopted IWD on March 8 when it is still held. The IWD movement has since grown in reach and visibility globally to make IWD a central point for action to build support for women’s rights and their full participation in the economy, politics, community and in everyday life.

A campaign by More Voices, More Representation highlights that 7 out of 10 women and gender-diverse people in Australia do not feel represented on IWD. This reinforces the need to align with the above international organisations.

We know that other IWD themes are promoted each year, including one by a corporate entity that has gained huge influence using search engine optimisation. There is no transparency about this organisation/site i.e. information about its origins, funding or whether it has a Board. In this context, WHIN chooses to support the work of the international women’s organisations who work to promote the rights of women across the world on IWD – and throughout the year.

The Women’s Health Services Network have released their assessment of the 2023-2024 Victorian State Budget. The assessment scorecard evaluates the Victorian State Budget against the priority areas of the Women’s Health Services:

· Promote primary prevention and health promotion for all Victorians.  

· Deliver to all women and girls in Victoria, access to safe and high quality sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion healthcare, across the life course.  

· Deliver investment in culturally safe, gender equitable mental healthcare and investment in the primary prevention of mental illness for women and girls. 

· Invest in health services and programs based on data and evidence to address a broad range of women’s health issues

The scorecard welcomes the continued investment and work to advance gender responsive budgeting, welcomes the significant investment in women’s health clinics and support programs, the additional services for women’s sexual and reproductive health and mental health hubs.

Looking into the future, the Women’s Health Services Network look forward to working with the government to ensure that gender and intersectional disaggregated data is utilised across all areas of Victoria’s health system , that the implementation of mental health reforms address systemic intersectional gender inequity in our mental health system and sustained support and investment in primary prevention and health promotion that addresses the diverse needs of the community. You can read the scorecard here.

Women’s Health In the North (WHIN) cautiously welcomes this week’s budget announcements, recognising that they followed through on the Government’s election commitments. 

WHIN CEO Helen Riseborough looks forward to working with the government to ensure the funding commitments in this budget are available for all women across Victoria.  

“We’re pleased to see the Victorian Government commitment to women’s health in this year’s budget,” Helen said.  

“The investment in the women’s health clinics is most welcome and we look forward to future investment in primary prevention and health promotion because we know that this work stops illness.” 

Helen said the network was supportive of the Gender Equality Budget Statement, including the implementation of gender responsive budgeting, and were keen to understand how future budgets and government investment would support ongoing reform. 

“It is vital the lived experience of women’s health and wellbeing is centred in our work going forward.  

“This long-term work requires ongoing investment, and we are not there yet.” Helen concluded. 

As a member of the Women’s Health Services Network, WHIN supports the Victorian State Government’s leadership and commitment to women’s health and gender equality as part of its policy and reform agenda. WHIN welcomes the Victorian Government’s election commitment to ‘give women’s health the focus and funding it deserves’ (15 Nov 2022, Media Release The Hon. Daniel Andrews).

As the only state infrastructure that delivers specialist expertise on intersectional gender equity for our health system – both regionally and state-wide – the Women’s Health Services are in a unique position to understand what investment and services are required to ensure that all Victorians are well.

We know that successful, thriving, and well-resourced public health systems invest in health promotion, as well as clinical services to address illness. By sustaining this investment over time, governments can strategically and practically reduce the pressure on our vastly overstretched public health system.

In the State Budget 2023, WHIN and the Women’s Health Services Network look forward to seeing progress on gender responsive budgeting, and, will be expecting investment from the Victorian Government that:

Prevention investment lowers healthcare costs and, reduces the costs to the economy associated with premature death and years spent in ill health.  As evidence submitted by the Women’s Health Services to the State (1) Government in 2022 shows, (2) increased investment in preventive health would pay for itself many times over. 

The 2023 budget presents the opportunity for Government to make strides towards addressing generations of inequitable health outcomes for women. This sustained investment will deliver ongoing social and economic benefits.

1. The Business Case submitted to Victorian Treasury for the 2022 Budget by the Women’s Health Services demonstrates that for every $1 of primary prevention investment in the women’s health sector, the return on investment is prevention health measures is $468

2. Women’s Health Services 2022 Business Case to Victorian Treasury based on Australian Social Values Bank shows that for every $1 of primary prevention investment in the women’s health sector, the return on investment if $468.00 to the community in value.

Women’s Health In the North has joined with all Women’s Health Services (WHS) across Victoria to support the ’Her Mental Health’ Campaign from the HER Centre, for a specific approach to women’s mental health, and the funding of more services, research, treatments and education of women’s specific mental health needs.

The mental health of women and girls is influenced by the intersection of sex, gender and other social factors.

‘The Women’s Health Services advocate for a well-funded, dynamic and thriving public health system; a system that supports the health of all our community. Our health system is not doing this if the specific needs of women are not being recognised,’ says WHIN’s CEO Helen Riseborough.

Professor Jayashri Kulkarni AM, Director of HER Centre Australia and Head of Psychiatry at Monash University says, ‘Current treatment options for women living with mental illness and mental ill health are not good enough. Too many times women receive the wrong diagnosis or the wrong treatment, or there just isn’t a good enough treatment option available yet.’

The Women’s Health Services are joining the HER Mental Health Campaign and will be promoting their support to partners, members and the broader community. In addition, the services will collectively call for increased investment in health promotion of women’s mental wellbeing.

‘We are supporting HER Centre’s call for specialist women’s mental health clinics, for clinical trials of new treatments for women, and education for general public and health professionals on the gendered nature of mental health,’ says Ms Riseborough.

“The Victorian Women’s Health Services have over 30 years of expertise and impact in improving the health and wellbeing of all women across Victoria. We know how important it is to apply a gender lens to health and wellbeing. It delivers outcomes for women, and value for our state.”

“If our government invests in a wellbeing economy, as has happened in Wales and New Zealand*, we will no longer have a vastly overstretched public mental health system” says Ms Riseborough.

The Women’s Health Services have developed a Theory of Change for women’s mental health and wellbeing, which sets out how to effectively address women’s mental health issues over the short-, medium- and longer-term using gender-transformative practice. Based on the latest evidence and research, the Theory of Change takes a population-level approach to address the decline in women’s mental health. A copy of the Theory of Change can be found here.

*“Integrating wellbeing into the business of government: The feasibility of innovative legal and policy measures to achieve sustainable development in Australia” The George Institute for Global Health, VIC Health (2021)

Women’s Health in the North Inc (the Applicant) has been granted an exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (the Act) to allow WHIN to undertake the following conduct:

“Women and gender-diverse people” include people who identify as women and people whose gender identity does not align with the gender assigned at birth.

“Gender-diverse” is inclusive of trans, non-binary, agender, intersex and other gender diverse individuals.

“Women and gender-diverse people” does not include individuals for whom both their biological and gender identity is male.

As an Incorporated Association, WHIN is a membership-based organisation. Membership is free and available to individuals and organisations. To find out more about becoming a member and to access our online application form, visit our membership page.

Join WHIN today and support your local women’s health service.


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