AWHN applauds NSW Government sign on to Our Watch

The Australian Women’s Health Network (AWHN) applauds the NSW Government decision to join all other Australian state and territory governments as members of Our Watch.

“We are delighted the NSW Government has finally committed to supporting Our Watch’s critical work as a nationally consistent approach to the prevention of violence against women and their children is crucial if we are to stop it from happening,” AWHN National Board Chairperson Marilyn Beaumont said.

Alongside other advocates and sector workers, AWHN has consistently called on the NSW Government to join Our Watch as a matter of urgency and draw on their extensive knowledge and experience in the development of that state’s prevention plans.

“We welcome comments from Mark Speakman, NSW Attorney General and Minister for the newly created portfolio for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, that he has ‘met with and listened to organisations fighting this epidemic’, and values membership with Our Watch as a valuable investment,” Ms Beaumont said.

“Minister Speakman’s commitment to prevention and his Government contributing to a national, all-of-government approach to stopping the epidemic of violence against women is refreshing and adds significant weight to efforts in driving the change necessary for women to be safe and valued in our society.”

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Contact: Marilyn Beaumont OAM, 0419 597 516, marilyn1379@gmail.com

National Board Chairperson, Australian Women’s Health Networkwww.awhn.org.au

Women’s Sexual & Reproductive Health requires PM leadership

The Australian Women’s Health Network urged Prime Minister Morrison today to support women’s public health access to important sexual and reproductive health services following the launch of its Women and Sexual and Reproductive Health: Second Edition 2019 Position Paper.

The letter emailed Tuesday 16 April has been reproduced below.

Dear Prime Minister Morrison

The demonstration of your leadership to achieve an important women’s health public policy will be critical to achieve optimum health outcomes for women in across Australia.

Since the release of the Australian Women’s Health Network (AWHN) Women and Sexual and Reproductive Health Position Paper 2012, and in the newly released Second Edition (2019), we have been actively advocating for a national sexual and reproductive health (SRH) strategy for Australia to be developed and funded as a priority. This strategy should have a particular focus on women and address the social determinants of sexual and reproductive ill-health, and incorporate a rights-based approach to ensuring all women can access comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care appropriate to their needs, regardless of their location, age, sexuality, financial status and religious and cultural
background.

A rights-based approach to health recognises women as experts in determining their health needs and is strongly aligned to patient and consumer centred care. It recognises they have the right to self determination, to privacy, to consent to sex, and to receive comprehensive and understandable information to enable them to make the best decisions about their health in the context of their own lives. Women’s reproductive and sexual rights are enshrined in international treaties (Appendix 1) and law which must be upheld Australia-wide.

We are not alone in this advocacy. AWHN has endorsed the call for action by the Public Health Association, Sexual Health & Family Planning Australia and Marie Stopes International, in Advancing sexual and reproductive well-being in Australia: the Melbourne proclamation (2012), for sexual and reproductive rights to be integrated into policy and program planning frameworks. A call to action was released in 2015 to further support the development of a national strategy. Additionally, the Australian Women’s Health Network endorsed the Australia Medical Association’s (2014) call for a national strategy and policy on SRH.

AWHN has raised this issue with every Federal Health Minister since 2012, including Minister Dutton in 2014, Minister Hunt in 2018 and 2019 and to all major political parties. Our advocacy has always included access to safe and legal abortion be provided to all Australian women through the public health system.

We were very concerned at your response to the 6th March ALP commitment to deliver Australia’s first ever National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy to make sure all Australian women can access legal, safe and affordable reproductive health services.

At the time you accused Labor of politicising the issue and said:

  • “This is a very controversial and sensitive issue and on these matters I have never sought to divide Australians on this,”
  • “I’m a bit disappointed that it is being raised in the eve of election in a very politically charged context. These are matters that are dealt with by the states and territories. I have no desire to overstep what the constitutional authorities are of the commonwealth in these matters.”
  • “I don’t find that debate one that tends to unite Australians and I certainly am not going to engage in the political elements of that discussion, because frankly I don’t think it is good for our country.”

Your response to this important issue for women, however, does not align with the majority of public opinion and expectations, or with Australia’s international obligations. The 2003 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA) found that 81% of those surveyed believed a woman should have the right to choose whether or not she has an abortion. The 2003 AuSSA also found that religious belief and support for legal abortion are not mutually exclusive, with 77% of those who identify as religious also supporting a woman’s right to choose. In late 2011, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Health Anand Grover released a report examining the interaction between the right to health and criminal laws relating to sexual and reproductive health. In it, he stated that the right to sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental part of the right to health. He also stated that criminal and other legal restrictions on abortion violate the right to health and that the application of such restrictions as a means to achieving public health outcomes is ‘often ineffective and disproportionate’. The report urged all UN member states to decriminalise abortion. Whilst decriminalisation has been occurring progressively across Australia, there are also federal powers that can be implemented to improve access and equity in service delivery.

Many Australian voices that have been raising this matter for years and we are raising this with you again in the lead up to the 2019 Federal election. Almost 48% (2.5 million) of all Australian women use some form of contraception. One in four pregnancies are unplanned and studies of Australian women considering abortion have shown that over half of women were using contraception prior to becoming pregnant. Almost one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime.

We strongly urge you to take leadership and not shy away from making critical changes that are within the power of a federal government. Such leadership will make a significant and lasting, real life difference to all women across Australia.

We again urge you to take action and support women’s public health access to important sexual and reproductive health services across the nation, including access to contraception, safe and affordable abortion and broader sexual health, which are supported by the vast majority of Australians.

Yours sincerely

Marilyn Beaumont OAM, National Chairperson

Women’s Health and the May Federal Election

In early February the Australian Women’s Health Network called on political commitment to five key proposals, that if implemented by a national government would mark a new beginning for women’s health at the national level and contribute to the creation of a fair and healthy society.

We have had a very positive and supportive response from the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens. Very disappointingly we have had NO response from the Liberal Party of Australia or the National Party of Australia to our call to commit to the AWHN Women’s Health Charter. (Note: on the 9th April the Liberal National Government launched the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030).

Response details in the table and the full correspondence can be found here
Australian Women”s Health Charter Responses

The Australian Women’s Health Network is making these responses known across our national networks.

We are asking Australia to vote for the candidates that make a commitment to:

  • a new national women’s health policy;
  • the first national women’s sexual and reproductive health policy which puts women’s autonomy of decisions about their bodies front and centre;
  • infrastructure in government necessary to making explicit gender impacts in all federal policy and budgets;
  • funded national conversation with women and making sustainable ongoing funding made available for their priorities across the social determinants of health.

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Contact: Marilyn Beaumont, 0419 597 516, marilyn1379@gmail.com

National Board Chairperson, Australian Women’s Health Networkwww.awhn.org.au

AWHN drives better health outcomes for all Australians through sharing analyses, research, policy developments and initiatives. The organisation links the research, work and investment that is already being done and amplifies the benefit for all Australians and the economy.

AWHN welcomes Coalition Government focus on women’s health

The Australian Women’s Health Network welcomes the Federal Coalition Government’s announcement of increased funding to a number of specific issues in its National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030, released 9 April 2019, but it does not go far enough.

This investment is predominantly in areas of reproductive health, such as ovarian cancer research, endometriosis research and information resource development, support to families following stillbirth and in reproductive and family planning organisations.

“These are important women’s health issues so the Government’s announcement of additional funding is very welcome,” AWHN National Board Chair Marilyn Beaumont said.

“In addition, the terrible lack of access to drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs specifically designed for women has been recognised with the commitment to building one. This is also a step in the right direction,” Ms Beaumont said.

The Australian Women’s Health Network has consistently called for a new national women’s health strategy since the last 2010 strategy lapsed. AWHN asserts that this must take a whole of government approach to improving health and wellbeing outcomes for women and girls in Australia.

“We are pleased to see the gender equity and equity between women as principles are included in the Strategy, as is a life course approach and a focus on prevention and strong evidence base. These principles however are not consistently followed through in the detail of the Strategy,” Ms Beaumont said.

“The new strategy also falls short of AWHN’s call to make, as a first priority in a new national women’s health strategy, women’s sexual and reproductive health based on the right to bodily autonomy. While there are some good initiatives focused on the health of women’s reproductive organs the Strategy lacks a cohesive, comprehensive approach to improving the overall sexual and reproductive health of women and girls as valued members of Australian society,” she said.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES
Contact: Marilyn Beaumont, 0419 597 516, marilyn1379@gmail.com
National Board Chairperson, Australian Women’s Health Network www.awhn.org.au

AWHN Applauds Labor National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy

The Australian Women’s Health Network applauds the Labor Party announcement today that it will deliver a National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy if elected.

Labor’s strong leadership in this commitment will make a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of Australian women and their families.

Women’s sexual and reproductive health is recognised worldwide as a priority health issue.

The Australian Women’s Health Network (AWHN) has been advocating for many years for a cohesive national plan so that women have reliable access to comprehensive, safe and affordable sexual and reproductive health services when they need them.

“It is so refreshing to hear these critical women’s issues spoken about clearly and publicly,” AWHN National Board Chair Marilyn Beaumont said.

“It is time the Commonwealth Government stepped up to bring change through federally funded systems, such as Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, GPs and public hospitals, in this important area of women’s health,” she said.

“AWHN is delighted the Labor Party has incorporated a number of recommendations from its Women and Sexual and Reproductive Health Position Paper into their Strategy, such as improved access to long-acting removable contraceptives, the contraceptive pill, medical terminations and termination services in public hospitals, and its commitment to restore funding to the AWHN so we can continue to build on our work.”

“We commend Labor leader Bill Shorten for his commitment to protecting the reproductive choice and health rights of all women across Australia that has been denied to them for too long,” Ms Beaumont said.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES
Contact: Marilyn Beaumont OAM, 0419 597 516, marilyn1379@gmail.com
National Board Chairperson, Australian Women’s Health Network

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AWHN calls for political commitment to Women’s Health Charter 2019

As the year draws to a close we are preparing for a big year in 2019.

The action to remove abortion from every state Criminal Code will continue.With a NSW state election in March there is action underway to make sure thisis achieved in NSW. AWHN is supporting this campaign through an open letter.The letter was launched and is covered Sydney MorningHerald. Youcan join the open letter here.

In addition we have joined with many other organisations in a campaign toachieve modernisation of the South Australian abortion laws. Since beingenacted in 1969 these are no longer fit for purpose and act as a barrier toinequitable access to this vital health service for South Australian women. Youcan join this effort through the  South AustralianAbortion Action Coalition’s (saaac) campaign.

With a Federal election due in 2019, the AWHN Board are taking action toadvocate for women’s health as a priority issue. A face to face Board meetingin February will prepare this campaign.

Have a restful end of year as we look forward to 2019.

Please scroll down for more items of interest,

With regards,

Marilyn Beaumont OAM
Chairperson National Board

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Action for Abortion to be removed from every state Criminal Code

As the year draws to a close we are preparing for a big year in 2019.

The action to remove abortion from every state Criminal Code will continue.With a NSW state election in March there is action underway to make sure thisis achieved in NSW. AWHN is supporting this campaign through an open letter.The letter was launched and is covered Sydney MorningHerald. Youcan join the open letter here.

In addition we have joined with many other organisations in a campaign toachieve modernisation of the South Australian abortion laws. Since beingenacted in 1969 these are no longer fit for purpose and act as a barrier toinequitable access to this vital health service for South Australian women. Youcan join this effort through the  South AustralianAbortion Action Coalition’s (saaac) campaign.

With a Federal election due in 2019, the AWHN Board are taking action toadvocate for women’s health as a priority issue. A face to face Board meetingin February will prepare this campaign.

Have a restful end of year as we look forward to 2019.

Please scroll down for more items of interest,

With regards,

Marilyn Beaumont OAM
Chairperson National Board

Unprecedented alliance calls for zero pollution in Australia

In an open letter to all Australian Parliamentarians, an unprecedented alliance of 51 health, environment, legal, aid, union, farming, and religious groups state have called for all parliamentarians to commit to strong emissions reduction targets, stating: “Australia and Australian people stand to lose so much from the impacts of climate change; it is in our national interest to be amongst the leading nations to ensure the world limits warming to well below 2 degrees. A zero carbon pollution future is possible, and it is all of our responsibility to make that future a reality for our children, and their children.”

AWHN was proud to sign this open letter along with 51 other organisations.

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The future of the Australian Women’s Health Network

AWHN members may be aware that since 2012, AWHN has had 3.5 years of Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing funding.

This funding has enabled us to move from a purely volunteer ad hoc effort behind a national voice for women’s health to one of significant outcomes against each of our 4 priority areas. These are reported on in detail in the recently distributed AWHN Annual Report 2014-2015.

This service delivery has only been possible with government funding and this funding comes to an end on 31 December 2015.

Over the past 6 months the Department has been finalising and seeking applications for funding under the new Health Peak and Advisory Body Programme funding guidelines. AWHN submitted an application by the closing date 26 August.

In the face of uncertain funding going forward AWHN Board had resolved in August and confirmed in its most recent November meeting to use AWHN’s small reserve fund to extend staff contracts to the end of the 2016.

On Friday 27 November, AWHN received correspondence informing us that our application had been ‘unsuccessful on this occasion’. You would understand that this is a big blow to us.

It means that AWHN does not have national coordination funding to continue to employ the CEO and small secretariat staff that have helped us get to the strong position which we have achieved.

When the AWHN Board meets in early February 2016, it will make decisions on AWHN’s future operations beyond 31 December, which is when staff contracts end. We are faced with the knowledge that without additional ongoing secretariat funding our operational capacity will be severely restricted.

Any AWHN work will have to be undertaken on an ad hoc basis beyond 31 December 2016 as it will necessarily rely on the voluntary efforts of Board and other members and be subject to their availability.

It’s a hard decision to think about leading into the festive season.

The AWHN Board thank the AWHN staff, particularly Kelly Banister, for all the wonderful work in 2015, and we wish all members a safe and restful festive season spending time with those you love.

Ready for a challenging 2016.

Marilyn Beaumont
AWHN Board Chair

 

 

As the AWHN CEO, I’d like to thank Marilyn for her summary of our situation and agree it is difficult at the moment to adjust to the decision that has been made. It would be easy to feel that perhaps our hard work has not been recognised and valued, however I believe our achievements over the last three years are eminently demonstrable of our worth and relevance to the Australian women’s health landscape and policy makers.

As Marilyn pointed out, we have achieved an enormous amount, and our Annual Report documents this in detail.

The value of what we do is reflected in the level of stakeholder demand for our resources and expertise, and I thought to share a couple of examples of this:

The Women’s Health Hub: Australian Women’s Health Clearinghouse was established and launched by Minister for Health Sussan Ley in June this year. Since being launched the number of visits and resource suggestions have steadily increased, with the number of Hub pages viewed between September and October nearly doubling, from 3,536 in September to 6,645 in October.

Other resources developed by AWHN in the last three years continue to be in demand. We have published a range of resources on priority women’s health issues and most are in the top ten list of downloads.

In October alone, the Women and Mental Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health; the Impact on Women’s Health of Climatic and Economic Disaster; Doing Better Gender: Transformative Public Health Messages and Women’s Health Meaningful Measures  resources were downloaded for use from our website more than 260 separate times.

These are only a couple of select highlights from the many which spring to mind when I think of what we have achieved together.

I look forward to AWHN achieving even more for women’s health, now and into the future, and to engaging our stakeholders in consultation on how we can best keep progressing this important work, which I feel so very proud to be a part of.

With regards,

Kelly Banister
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Women’s Health Network
ceo@awhn.org.au

 

 

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AWHN Contributes to Change the Story: Framework to prevent Violence Against Women and their Children

The Framework developed in partnership by Our Watch, VicHealth and Australian National Research Organisation
for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) was launched on 10 November at Parliament House Canberra.

AWHN staff and Board members provided input into the development of this document during through various consultation avenues over the past year and references have been included to the AWHN Health and The Primary Prevention of Violence Against Women.

For more information on the Framework go here.

 

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