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.
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.
Chief Executive Officer
Australian Women’s Health Network