Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE), together with local government and community health organisations, are set to launch the first ever sexual and reproductive health strategy and action plan for the Southern Metropolitan Region (SMR).

“We believe it’s essential that every woman has access to services and supports they need to ensure optimal health, regardless of their personal circumstances,” says Ms Kit McMahon, WHISE CEO.

Following the State Government’s release of Victoria’s first  Women’s sexual and reproductive health strategy and priority action plan last year, WHISE was allocated funding to deliver a collaborative strategy to address the sexual and reproductive health needs of women in the SMR.

“We have partnered with community health organisations in our region to develop and implement the strategy and are committed to addressing and supporting the Victorian Government’s key priority areas,” says Ms McMahon.

After researching the sexual and reproductive health gaps and needs in the region through service mapping and consultation, Good Health Down South will focus on:

  • Reproductive Rights and Access
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Advocacy
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health Literacy

About 800 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Australia each year, and about 80 per cent of these cases occur in women who have never screened or were not up-to-date with their screening. In the SMR, low participation of pap screening is found in Cardinia, Casey, Frankston and Greater Dandenong; they are below the state average of 60 per cent.

“Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, but screening is vital. We are fortunate to live in a country with a national cervical cancer immunisation program. With the combination of improved cervical screening and HPV immunisation programs, there is an enormous opportunity to reduce cervical cancer rates and save lives in the SMR,” says Ms Jessica Elsworth, health promotion officer at WHISE.

Ms Gabrielle Williams MP, State Member for Dandenong, will open the launch on Tuesday 28 August at Punt Hill Apartment Hotel in Dandenong.

“Congratulations to all the stakeholders who have been instrumental in the development of this Strategy. Supporting the State Government’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Plan, this is an important step towards a future where women who live in the Southern Metropolitan Region are given access to services and support they need,” says Ms Williams.

The regional strategy brings together community leaders with a common vision, which will strengthen collective action to ultimately work towards meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of women across the whole region.

Hashtags: #GoodHealthDownSouth #SexualAndReproductiveHealth

Media contact: Doseda Hetherington · (03) 9794 8677 · ·