WHISE welcomes ongoing focus on women’s health in latest budget, aims to collaborate further with Government in advancing women’s health & wellbeing

Women’s Health in the South East (WHISE) together with the Victorian Women’s Health Service’s Network (WHSN) – the leading voice for gender equality and women’s wellbeing across Victoria – cautiously welcome this week’s budget announcements.

Primary prevention matters

WHISE CEO, Kit McMahon recognises the investment that this budget delivers to women’s health but is concerned for the lack of funding in prevention, which addresses the root causes of ill health.

“We support the investment in women’s health clinics but recognising that primary prevention and health promotion effectively prevent illnesses, we look forward to future government investment in this vital area,” says McMahon.

“It is crucial to continue funding the work of prevention and health promotion, as it represents a long-term commitment to influence meaningful change.”

Mental health and wellbeing for women

With the introduction of Gender and Mental Wellbeing to its portfolio this year, WHISE welcomes the continued investment for mental health and wellbeing hubs and locals.

“We’re particularly excited about the funding for the new Wellbeing Local in southeast suburb of Narre Warren. It presents a huge opportunity for us to strengthen the work in mental health and wellbeing by applying an intersectional gender lens,” says McMahon.

Safe access to sexual and reproductive health

While there were also wins in sexual and reproductive health (SRH) with funding allocated for SRH hubs, public fertility health, provision of free pads and tampons, and a pilot to improve access to oral contraceptives, McMahon says success will depend on whether investment is accompanied by health promotion activities that address intersectional barriers to accessing these resources.

“We need to engage with the community to understand the needs of women, draw on existing research and evidence to design performance measures, and develop a health promotion strategy to address the intersectional barriers that women face in accessing SRH services,” says McMahon.

Gender Equality

McMahon has applauded the Government’s Gender Equality Budget Statement, including the implementation of gender responsive budgeting but keen to understand how future budgets and investment from the Government would support ongoing reform.

“We can see that this government is invested in achieving gender equality from the release of the Gender Equality Budget Statement.

“Gender equality work must address the barriers to women’s participation in our economy that are present in our education and training system, our labour markets, and our organisations.

“As a sector and as a government, we now need to move beyond activities that are just seeking to attract women or recruit women. We need to be strategic in our work. Women will not and should not work in industries that are not safe, that do not respect their skills, or recognise the burden of care that they carry.”

Looking ahead

WHISE looks forward to collaborating with the government to support ongoing reform and achieve meaningful gender equality outcomes across Victoria.

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