Nearly three years ago, WHISE undertook a process to discover our core values – we arrived at Learning, Innovation, Collaboration, Integrity and Leadership. Together with our practice and ethos of intersectional feminism this work continues to underpin all that we do.
Through the pages of our 2021-2022 Annual Report, you will see, and develop an understanding of, how we live these values in our work and deliver our services in keeping with our commitment and practice of intersectional feminism. We showcase our work to help implement the Gender Equality Act, to review and develop our region’s second prevention of violence against women and sexual and reproductive health strategies and to continue to build the capacity and capability around women’s health and wellbeing in our region.
Of course, the theme of the pandemic continues in this report. WHISE was again able to engage in outreach work with women in our community due to expanded funding from the Victorian Government. Our Multicultural Community Engagement and Education Team expanded their deep connections with women and their lived experience in our region, to ensure that support and services were delivered in a timely way and that women from migrant and refugee communities were able to access evidence-based health information. We have grown in our knowledge, our practice and in our impact through the close work with women in our community and we encourage you to review and understand this work undertaken by our marvellous team.
But this one annual report is not the full story.
As we celebrate our 30 years of work, of legacy and of herstory, we must acknowledge that WHISE is here today, doing what it does in our community, only because of the leaders, partners and members of WHISE who came before us. Our grounding in intersectional feminism drives us to acknowledge the voices, stories and impact of the women who, through WHISE, have sought to create equity across our health and wellbeing systems and structure and in our community. This year, as across all years, we pay tribute to them, their work and enduring impact.
Advocating for change
Another key outcome of enduring work is the boost to Women’s Health Services that came through the Victorian Government in the 2022 State Budget. This could only occur because of the advocacy and efforts of many leaders, advocates and community members supporting the work that we do, and the mission and role of Women’s Health Services across Victoria. Our #SickofSmallChange campaign is showcased in this report but, it was not a campaign that occurred only in 2022. The recognition on the importance of investment in health promotion and primary prevention and the intersectional gender lens on health and wellbeing has been occurring for as long as there have been women’s health services in Victoria.
While this Annual Report shows the work and projects that WHISE has delivered over the last 12 months, in reality the work has been done in collaboration with others – other leaders, workers, and organisations. In working with others, WHISE understands that all women in our region can benefit as we bring together different capacity and skills to energise primary prevention and health promotion activities and work.
We thank the Victorian Government, not only for this increase to our funding for the next two years, but also for the recognition of the role of Women’s Health Services in our public health system and structures. While the funding is for a short term, WHISE will be doing all that it can to sustain this funding over the medium to longer term.
We would like to extend once again our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Board of WHISE – an incredible group of women overseeing our organisation at a time of immense change in our community and health system. We also thank our incredible team for their tireless work and patient advocacy for intersectional gender equity and for women’s health and wellbeing. Their centring of the lived experience of all women is testament to how fundamental feminism is to our work. Finally, to our members, supporters and partners, without your commitment to our shared mission we could not do what we do. Achieving gender equality is not the work of one person, nor one organisation – it is the collaborative efforts of everyone.
In closing, we recognise our shared leadership, and our learning journey, the innovative work we do together and of course our integrity.
Kerry Bradley, Chair
Kit McMahon, CEO