Victorian Medical Women’s Society Congratulates Women’s Health Victoria on their continued contribution to women’s health.
Women’s Health Victoria works with the entire sexual and reproductive health system in Victoria to maximise service provision and access to vital SRH services. 1800 My Options, Victoria’s phoneline for contraception, abortion and sexual health delivered by WHV, actively monitors service provision, gaps and issues across Victoria in order to inform system reform and advocacy and has observed increased demand for SRH services throughout 2022. The extension of telehealth provision for SRH services by GPs who do not have an established clinical relationship with the patient has been a welcome development in the space, allowing more women to access these services – especially in rural areas. 1800 My Options has also developed an introductory training module for health and community workers designed to build awareness of the support needs of women seeking contraception, abortion and sexual health services.
The Women’s Mental Health Alliance was established by WHV in 2019 in response to the lack of a gender lens in the interim report of the Royal Commission into the Victorian Mental Health System. Now in its third year of existence, the Alliance has around 50 members comprising both individuals (lived and living experience experts, researchers, clinicians) and organisational representatives (peak bodies, consumer and policy advocacy organisations, women’s health services, mental health services, and violence prevention and response services) with expertise in women’s mental health.
After a priority-setting exercise, the Alliance will focus its advocacy and policy work in 2022 on the following areas:
Gender safety in mental health facilities
WHV and several other Alliance members are members of the Project Working Group overseeing the co-design process of the new 35-bed women’s mental health service (located at the Alfred Road Clinic and Goulburn Valley Area Mental Health Service, Shepparton campus).
Improving support for people with lived experience of trauma
The focus of this priority area will be advocacy by the Alliance for a statewide women’s trauma recovery service, based on the Illawara Trauma Recovery Centre in NSW recently funded in the Federal budget.
Improving accessibility for diverse communities
Working in partnership with relevant members (e.g., Rainbow Health, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Women with Disabilities Victoria and Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, as well as non-members like Victorian Transcultural Mental Health and Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation), the Alliance will be pushing for a stronger intersectional approach in the Victorian Government’s forthcoming Diverse Communities’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework.
Promoting good mental health and preventing mental illness
The Statewide Plan for the Promotion of Good Mental Health is to be developed by the end of 2022 and will guide the roll-out of mental health promotion and mental ill-health prevention initiatives in Victoria. Given the gendered social and economic determinants of mental ill-health, the Alliance will advocate for a gender-sensitive approach and highlight any relevant gender-sensitive initiatives for expansion / scaling (e.g., at regional women’s health services). WHV and the Alliance also recently provided a briefing paper to Prevention United as input into their map of existing mental health promotion and mental ill-health prevention activities in Victoria.
Enabling the mental health and wellbeing workforce to deliver a reformed system
Having already provided input into workforce-related consultations the Alliance will continue to monitor this area of mental health reforms and advocate for workforce capacity building around working with lived experience workers, and gender-sensitive and trauma informed practice.
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Summary provided by Dr. Shiva Sridhar, VMWS WOMEN’S HEALTH REP