State Budget must be equitable for Southern Melbourne to recover from the Pandemic


Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE) has joined other women’s health services and gender equity leaders across Victoria today to call for a total investment of $271.2 million to drive recovery after the COVID-19 she-cession.

In the last 12 months, Victorian women have incurred a greater rate of job loss than men, carried the burden of essential care and domestic work, and seen their superannuation balances plummet as they have dipped into them to make ends meet.

WHISE CEO, Kit McMahon, said women’s health services across the State were coming together to advocate for a State Budget that centred on gender equity principles, with priority investment in economic, public health and social support systems that were designed to benefit all.

“We are asking our State Government to really apply a gender lens to the State’s economic and social recovery in this budget” says Kit McMahon, CEO of WHISE. 

“In Southern Melbourne, we also know that the pandemic has had a significant impact on women’s jobs, mental health, and their access to health services. The inequality is more significant for women with migrant and refugee backgrounds, women with disabilities and our First Nation’s people.”

In partnership with 42 agencies from across Victoria, WHISE is putting forward to government a set of integrated priorities for economic and community action. 

“Our submission to the State Government focuses on six key areas: gender-equal job creation; boosting women’s health services; gender responsive budgeting architecture; imagining a care economy; creating a gender and disaster workforce; and strengthening gender equal communities,” says Ms. McMahon.

WHISE is requesting a boost to its funding of $732,000 over four years to enable it to better respond to the shifting needs of a changing demographic in its focus communities.

In addition, WHISE are advocating for:

  • $749,000 over four years for WHISE to establish and provide leadership and capacity building for sexual and reproductive health programs throughout the Southern Metropolitan Region;
  • $200,000 core funding over two years for WHISE’s Prevention of Violence Against Women partnerships across the region, to strengthen collective, intersectional gendered violence prevention;
  • $40,000 over four years to enable WHISE to lead local health promotion campaigns aligned with the State’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign;
  • $422,000 over four years, for WHISE mental health for women programming, including activities that apply a local, intersectional gender lens on existing service provision in the local area; and
  • $364,000 over five years to scale up the award-winning Gender and Disaster Pod for state-wide application, in anticipation of future disaster preparedness, early intervention and response.

“We have seen already from this government leadership of family violence and gender equity at the state, national and international level. We also share with them the knowledge that creating inclusive and accessible systems that are available for all takes more than one budget cycle," says Ms. McMahon.

“Prosperity for all means that we need to apply a gender lens to this budget and by doing that, we can ensure that those that are impacted the most by the pandemic are well supported.”

Further Information

Read more about the budget submission Towards a Gender Equal Recovery [PDF:4.2MB]

Read the submission from women’s health services (including WHISE) on Priorities for Women’s Health in the 21/22 Victorian State Budget [PDF:3.2MB]

Read the Executive Summary of the Women’s Health Service Priorities [PDF:1.8MB]