Over the course of the last 12 months, the team at WHISE has produced a range of resources and tools to support our community, partners and stakeholders to improve the health and wellbeing of women, and to apply gender equality practice.
Advocating for change
In early 2022, the Women’s Health Services (WHS) network advocated for investment from the Victorian Government to provide services to the 3,306,680 women across Victoria, at the May Federal Election.
At the time of the campaign, current funding per woman across Victoria, to provide support for their wellbeing and health, was $2.07 per woman.
The WHSs called for funding in five key areas of public health:
- Primary prevention of poor mental outcomes for women – increase mental wellbeing to prevent mental illness.
- Address the health consequences of gender inequity on women’s obesity and weight gain.
- Renewing a Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy with increased focus on pelvic pain.
- Stop gendered violence and the health consequences of this violence.
- Build resilience for women in a changing society caused by increased risk of pandemic and natural disaster, and the impacts of climate change.
Victorian WHSs advised the State Government that failing to address increasing illness of Victorian women through health promotion and primary prevention will cost the State $41.2 billion – which is the cost of avoidable acute health care to an already overstretched health system. The WHSs also advised that this can be addressed by increasing funding per woman through the Victorian WHSs program to $4.35 per women in metropolitan regions and $5.60 per women in rural and remote Victoria. This represented a fraction of the cost to the Victorian taxpayer if women’s health is not supported.
Gender Equity Victoria’s Victorian Government Budget Submission for 2022-2023 Recovery and Resilience which included the Women’s Health Services call for action can be found on the Gender Equity Victoria website
On 9 May 2022, the benefits from the Victorian Budget 2022-2023 were announced with health promotion and primary prevention of women’s health being strengthened through additional funding.
2021-22 Victorian State Budget
The Victorian State Budget was handed down by Treasurer Tim Pallas on 20 May 2021.
An overview on the Victorian State Budget 2021-22 with a specific eye to how it will impact women in the Southern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne was completed and the analysis – written by Research Officer Dr. Rachel Bush – sought to highlight what the team at WHISE see as the key benefits of the budget for women in our region and future opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing for women.
As our community and economy emerges from the pandemic, and with the awareness both in Victoria and nationally about the importance of gender equality, WHISE was pleased to see the government responding to the sector’s call for:
- Increased funding for Women’s Health Services;
- Establishment of additional hubs for sexual and reproductive health;
- A gender responsive budgeting unit within Treasury;
- Creation of 47,000 gender equal jobs in the care economy (mental health, early childhood, COVID-19 healthcare and teaching); and
- Prioritised funding for women’s economic participation.
The establishment of localised units in public health, mental health, sexual and reproductive health and in other areas of economic justice (i.e., skills) will be a great opportunity to make sure that the specific needs of women at the local level are heard and responded to.
We put forward some concerns on the budget based on our work and perspective of ensuring that all women in our region are safe, healthy and thriving.
Annual Stakeholder Survey
Understanding the needs of our community
The third annual Stakeholder Engagement and Impact Survey was completed by respondents who represented a diversity in organisations and professional roles. Ninety-one people completed the Annual Stakeholder Survey in September 2021 - a staggering 69% increase from last year. There was a diverse range of organisations and professional roles held by the respondents and this diversity reflects the ever-increasing reach of WHISE into the SMR’s communities.
WHISE is proud to report that our stakeholders have a high level of satisfaction with our services.
The words they most frequently associated with WHISE (collaborative, professional, supportive, empowering, inclusive, feminist and positive relationships) suggest that WHISE is perceived to be a feminist service that works positively with its partners while also empowering and building the capability of others and promoting intersectional gender equality. This is a positive finding as it strongly aligns with WHISE’s mission and values.
Communicating to the press
To support our advocacy, WHISE released statements to the public through the media on the following areas:
- Abortion in Australia is legal, and must remain accessible
- Women’s Health Services Unite on Roe V Wade
- Women’s Health and Wellbeing Benefits From Victorian Budget 2022-23
- Victorian Women Are Sick of Small Change: Underinvestment In Women’s Health Increases Illness And Depression
- A Call for Investment In Women’s Health Amid Concerns About The Return To School
- National Plan to End Violence Against Women Released
- The Makings of the New Mandala
- Leading Women’s Health Agency Rejects Claims that Health Campaign is About “Sex Tips”
Launch of the new website
A time for change
WHISE launched a new website in October 2021, with the creative influences of the design studio, WildEye, who have worked with WHISE for over ten years. Part of the new look and feel of the website is also a new mandala.
Mandalas are often used to reflect health and wellbeing and to foster a sense of connectedness and Creative Director, Wilani van Wyk-Smit revisited the original mandala created by Doseda Hetherington in 2016.
An artistic approach to business adds humanity, emotion and connection and encourages interaction and the mandala reminds us we are all individual forms working together making change, -consistent change-, that grows and is passed through generations, getting stronger and stronger.
Wilani likened it to being like a full circle that isn’t finished yet, that is still growing - and that “THAT is the story of WHISE”.
The new mandala is a key component of the new branding of WHISE and is widely used across promotional material.
Social Media Campaigns Guide
Building confidence across Women's Health Services
The public response to the SRH Week 2021 social media campaign highlighted the need for a Social Media Campaigns Guide, to support the Victorian Women's Health Services, to implement social media campaigns and respond to backlash and resistance as needed.
The WHS Communications Community of Practice worked together, under the lead of Doseda Hetherington to establish a resource detailing the many aspects of designing, building and promoting a social media campaign.
The resource is hosted on the Gender Equity Victoria website for all Victorian Women's Health Services to access and has proven to build confidence and strengthen relationships across all services as we seek to strengthen our social media presence.
Submission to the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children
On the 14 February 2022, WHISE facilitated an online forum for the Promoting Respect and Equality Together Partnership, and the Integrated Family Violence Partnerships of Southern Melbourne and Bayside Peninsula to develop a submission for the draft National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children. With 47 participants, it was a great opportunity for the stakeholders from the FV sector to work together, with hopes that this will occur more in the future.
- Response to the proposed new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2021
- Review of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- Local Adult and Older Adult Mental Health and Wellbeing Services
- Submission to Consultation Paper - Addressing Sexual Harassment in Victorian Workplaces
Advice to Local Government Free from Violence Local Government Program 2022-2025
In response to queries from our Local Government Partners regarding opportunities for LGAs to apply for, and be granted funding under this program, WHISE developed a briefing paper on the opportunities for this three-year funding grant.