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whw news

Edition 3 • 2008

sexual & reproductive health edition


Victorian women win right to vote


Marsha Thomson MP ‘I think we are demeaning women if we believe we cannot leave it to them to make that decision.’

Don Nardella MP

Victorian women win reproductive freedom

Colleen Hartland MP ‘It is my view that the woman having the abortion should be the one to make the choice, because it is quite obvious she is capable of making such a decision.’

Victorian women have just won the right to control, without criminal sanction, our bodies and our lives!

‘I believe it should be the woman’s right to choose. Women should have control over their own bodies. That is one of the most critical things that the bill enshrines in legislation. Rather than relying on rulings by judges or on the views of non‑legislators in society, it is the role of this Parliament to make that decision.’

Khalil Eideh MP

Judy Maddigan MP ‘I would find it ironic if, 100 years later, this still male-dominated house made the decision that this house has the right to tell women in this state what they should do.’

Experts head development of innovative new violence prevention factsheets


Tim Pallas MP

Photo by Sarah Jefford

Wade Noonan MP

Letter to WHW CEO, 25 September 2008

Promoting violence prevention p.10

‘A law which gives women a choice about their own bodies when faced with one of the hardest decisions they most probably will ever make is a good law in my view… I support women’s freedom, their choice and their decisions.’


‘Before voting on the Bill, I considered the issue in detail, consulted my conscience, and determined that this Bill supported a woman’s right to choose within current clinical practice and without fear of prosecution.’


L-R: Jo Wainer, Chris Scott (Emily’s List), Robyn Gregory (CEO WHW), Anne O’Rourke (Liberty Victoria), Sally Cockburn (Dr. Feelgood), Marilyn Beaumont (CEO, WHV), Jenny Ejlak (WHV), Cath Mayes (WHW)

‘I believe we need to offer women in Victoria the ability to make real choices about their own bodies, to safeguard lives and the quality of those lives. It is not the right of the legislature to impose its views on women when facing one of life’s hardest decisions or to intervene but rather to provide options and support for women in this situation.’

*All quotes taken from Hansard (September/ October 2008) except where noted

Abortion Law Reform Update p.8 Abortion bill passed in historic moment for Victorian women

WHW speaks out on homelessness Responding to the Commonwealth Government’s Homelessness Green Paper

p.20 Getting Away From It All Family fun in challenging times

women’s health west ­– active, effective and leading the region in advancing women’s health, safety and wellbeing

A word from the ceo


elcome to the third edition of WHW News for 2008. This is our sexual and reproductive health edition, which is very timely given that Victorian women have just won the right to control, without criminal sanction, our bodies and our lives. In the same week, a bill to give single women and samesex couples increased access to fertility treatment also passed through its first stage. The right to legal abortion has been a long struggle – and this outcome is a crucial reminder of the importance of working together to achieve change for women. Sexual and reproductive health is one of WHW’s three priority areas for promoting women’s health and our Coordinator, Cath Mayes, has provided a strong case for the importance of control over sexual and reproductive health to all aspects of women’s lives, on page 3. Along with Cath, I had the privilege of being in parliament when the bill to decriminalise abortion was passed, unamended, through both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council. Despite having been warned by the Speaker of the House that we were not permitted to make any noise, members of the Speaker’s Gallery could not help but burst into spontaneous applause

ISSN # 1834-7096 Corrections: Cath Mayes’ entry in the Behind the Scenes section of edition 2 of WHW News omitted information about Cath’s background. Cath’s first job was as a social worker in the Southern Region working as a case manager with homeless young people who were classified as at risk or high risk. She also lived in India for two years and in addition to her current role, works as a university tutor. Editor: Nicola Harte

Dr Robyn Gregory

when the bill was passed in the Lower House at nearly 1 am, after three days and nights of debate. It was a mixture of joy that the majority of our elected members had the courage to stand up for women’s reproductive freedom, and relief that amendments designed to reduce women’s access to abortion in Victoria were not supported. We can be proud of many of our local MPs, who spoke strongly and with courage, on behalf of all women. You can read more about the bill in Cath’s article on page 8. WHW are continuing to strengthen our responses to family violence across the continuum required for real change to occur. Jacky Tucker, our Manager of Family Violence Services, has written two articles – one about our partnership with agencies in the region to respond to women who are at high risk of severe violence and a second about our submission to the Federal Government’s green paper on homelessness. Kirsten Campbell, one of our health promotion workers, introduces the fact sheets produced as part of an action research project to build the capacity of workers to plan violence prevention projects in our region. The illustrations in the fact sheets are extraordinarily detailed and quite beautiful, drawing your eye to the inspiring ideas that they illustrate. In all of our work, WHW advocates for the importance of both redressing the underlying causes of violence, as well as strengthening our response to the problems arising from family violence,

There are a number of other terrific articles by staff and others associated with WHW. For instance, our IWD exhibition, Tapestries, continues to tour the western region and we were very excited to hear that it was listed as a Fringe Festival event while on display at the Hunt Club in Deer Park! You can read the story of two of the women celebrated in the exhibition on page 16 – Gail and Lillian. I continue to be inspired by the courage, determination and sheer hard work of my colleagues at WHW – both staff and board members. Our Chair, Lisa Field, has written about this from her own perspective. At a staff-board gettogether one of our staff members spoke of the importance of women finding their voice – of never being silenced. It is my hope that our work at WHW will continue to be true to that goal.

Design and layout: Susan Miller,

Newsletter Group: Katherine Koesasi, Cath Mayes, Jacky Tucker, Veronica Garcia, Nicola Harte.

Editorial Policy: Contributions from readers are welcome. Opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect those of Women’s Health West (WHW). All contributions are the responsibility of the individual authors. The final decision on inclusion lies with WHW and the editor. Content must be in keeping with WHW’s mission statement. Short items are preferred. Contributor’s name, address and phone number should be attached so that we can contact you.

Contributors to this edition: Angela Cole, Cath Mayes, Jacky Tucker, Joy Free, Kirsten Campbell, Elisha Riggs, Lisa Field, Nicola Harte, Pat Chalmers, Poppy Mihalakos, Reem Omarit, Robyn Gregory, Rumia Abbas, Sally Camilleri, Stephanie Raymond, Scout Kozakiewicz, Veronica Garcia, Wan Chi. Photographers: Scout Kozakiewicz, Veronica Garcia, Wan Chi.

whw news edition 3 • 2008

including homelessness. And, as Wan Chi points out when writing about excursions undertaken by mums and their kids during the school holidays, we have to remember to encourage families to have fun too, especially when they are going through challenging times. In all regards, we were buoyed by the Prime Minister’s ‘White Ribbon’ speech on 17 September, which sent a powerful message to men and boys that violence against women is unacceptable and that all men should take on the responsibility of challenging other men’s violence. media/Speech/2008/speech_0478.cfm


Lack of publication of material bears no reflection on the merit of submissions. WHW reserves the right to copy edit any contribution. Contributors will be contacted in the event of a structural edit being required. Read this edition and archives of WHW News online at www.whwest. Edition 3 published: November 2008 Deadline for Edition 1: 23 February 2009 Email contributions to

sexual & reproductive health edition W

omen’s Health West (WHW) locates the goals of improving women’s sexual and reproductive health within a feminist human rights framework. The place of women in society impacts on their sexual and reproductive health in relation to access to services, control over the type and quality of services available and control over reproductive decision making. It also limits women’s control over their bodies and therefore their lives.

Control over sexual and reproductive decision making is associated with greater choice in other aspects of women’s lives. Through empowerment, women take control of their lives. However, many factors, including women’s low status continue to limit their ability to control their own lives. For example, violence against women has a direct impact on women’s sexual and reproductive health. Most violence against women is carried out by husbands or partners and coerced sex leads to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and gynaecological problems. According to research undertaken by VicHealth, intimate partner violence is responsible for more ill-health and premature death in Victorian women under the age of 45 than any other well known risk factors, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking1. Put simply, violence against women constitutes the greatest risk to the health and wellbeing of women of reproductive age. The social empowerment of women clearly contributes to, and depends on, good reproductive health. WHW works to achieve this by increasing women’s control over sexual and reproductive

1  VicHealth 2004. The Health Costs of violence. Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence. Accessed September 2008 http://www.vichealth.

decision making, increasing women’s access to resources that support their sexual and reproductive health and responding to the sexual and reproductive health problems created by discrimination and violence against women. Examples of this include our work within the FARREP project and our involvement in advocacy for the removal of abortion from the Crimes Act. Women’s control over sexual and reproductive decision making has played a prominent role within the social and political arena this year. This year, we have seen first-hand how women’s bodies and health are legislated in many different ways. First, with the successful passing of the Abortion Law Reform Bill, and second, with the Assisted Reproduction Treatment Bill which passed through the Legislative Assembly on October 8 with a majority vote of 48 to 36. This Bill, if successful will provide single women, lesbians and infertile couples with greater access to fertility treatments. It is important that women are both recognised and respected as autonomous individuals capable of making good and responsible moral decisions. Failure to recognise this serves to reinforce women’s lack of equality and highlights why WHW views control over sexual and reproductive decision making as one component of the fight against all forms of inequality and oppression. This timely edition of WHW News provides information arising from some of our sexual and reproductive health focussed projects and demonstrates why control over sexual and reproductive decision making and autonomy are an essential part of women’s health. Sexual and reproductive health articles are identified with this stamp:

Cartoon: Sarah Marlowe

Defining Sexual and Reproductive Decision-Making “The human rights of women include their right to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.” (Para 97) Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, Fourth World Conference on Women, 15 September 1995. humanrts/instree/e5dplw.htm

sexual & reproductive health edition 3

whw news edition 3 • 2008

Behind the scenes WHW Staff

Photographer: Veronica Garcia

Poppy Mihalakos Reception Worker

Before I started at WHW I was a dental assistant for 18 years. I also have experience in administration support work. My employment at WHW is a whole new direction for me as I have not worked within this part of the health industry before. I have only been here for a few weeks and am finding it a fantastic environment to work in. Everyone is very supportive of my being at WHW. It is a refreshing experience to work in an environment that is nurturing and supportive and flexible to allow personal growth and development.

WHW Board Update Words by Lisa Field


ver the past year, the Women’s Health West (WHW) board have been involved in a number of working groups and governance issues. The working groups continue to assist in the areas of finance and risk management, board planning, board policy, CEO performance management and more recently assessing board information requirements and the Employee Collective Agreement (ECA) process. Board members have also been active in the campaign to decriminalise abortion. The board has participated in various external and internal training and development opportunities in preparation for strategic planning and to enhance our strategic thinking capacity. This is something all board members are aware of as the current strategic plan concludes in 2009. The board look forward to working collaboratively with the CEO and staff to develop a new plan. Having a simple, potentially one page, plan, will assist board members in their governance role by monitoring this plan to ensure the organisation is meeting the strategic targets. Over the past year, the board have been impressed by staff presentations on WHW programs and frameworks for health promotion interventions. The strength of the organisation clearly lies with the staff and the board is supportive of a workplace that enhances the health and wellbeing of its workforce. The informal get-together of

Staff achievements In October 2008, Cath Mayes (WHW Sexual and Reproductive Health Coordinator) received an award from VicHealth and the Public Health Association of Australia as the joint top student for the subject Principles and Practice of Public Health in the Victorian Consortium Master of Public Health. Congratulations Cath!

board members and staff in May was a very valuable way to learn about how we each contribute to the overall success of the organisation and to strengthen ties between board members and staff. As WHW approaches its 21st year, it is indeed a very exciting milestone for the organisation. Whilst growth and the development of new services, partnerships and strategies to achieve the organisation’s mission have been the focus over the past decade, the next phase of the organisation is about consolidation and quality improvements. WHW is well placed to respond to the changes and challenges in the community services sector now and into the future as it continues to deliver innovative and responsive services that contribute to the evidence base for best practice. The board thanks all WHW staff, and in particular the CEO, Robyn Gregory, for their valuable time and input into ensuring women’s health, well-being and safety is a community priority.

L-R Naomi Raab, Karen Passey (Treasurer)

L-R WHW Board of Management

whw news edition 3 • 2008

Lisa Field, Chair WHW Board of Management


Photographer: Erin Slattery

Your feedbackinforms WHW Angela Cole, Quality Project Officer

The greater the feedback into the service, the greater the opportunities that we have to meet the ongoing needs of our service users. During 2003-2004, the homelessness sector developed the Homelessness Assistance Service Standards. In 2007, the Women’s Health West (WHW) management team decided not only to meet these standards, but also to apply the accreditation process to all programs within WHW. This accreditation consists of achieving certain standards in five general practice sections: consumer rights, access to services, service delivery, case management and working within the community.

accreditation process

Obtaining Commitment and Enthusiasm The major hurdle to overcome in order to complete this project within the limited time and limited resources is the ability of staff to juggle conflicting priorities. While WHW takes pride in meeting the needs of service users, from my perspective as project coordinator, I need to ensure that all staff have the opportunity to be involved while being mindful of their existing commitments. I set up meetings with very firm timeframes, no work is to be completed outside of these meetings, and discussions in each meeting are outcome-focussed and guided by strict agendas. Goals and objectives are discussed at the

Working with WHW at the forefront of this process has been a fantastic opportunity. The first phase involved identifying the strengths of the organisation by obtaining commitment and enthusiastic input from the management team and staff and applying the question, “How will this accreditation process improve the service?”

start of each meeting and meetings always start and finish on time.

Future Directions We are at the halfway mark of this project. Half of the workgroups are complete and we have had excellent suggestions from all staff guiding this process over the past few months. One suggestion considers the way that feedback from both staff and service users guides our practice and determines our commitment to improving our organisation and the delivery of services. So remember, the greater the feedback into the service, the greater the opportunities that we have to meet the ongoing needs of our service users! Please feel free to email me at angela@ and feed back on any level of service you have received from WHW, I would love to hear from you.

Strengths of the Organisation A feminist organisation, WHW is committed to the empowerment of women and their right to have their voices heard, so involving staff is a key element of this project. Staff are invited to participate in a series of workgroups where standards are reviewed. We discuss whether these standards are understood and practiced by all staff; and engage in open discussion about ways to improve existing standards. These workgroups make recommendations to the quality committee which consists of managers and coordinators who review suggestions from workgroups and determine organisational priorities. The humorous part of me cannot help reflecting on the lively discussions that always take place between staff!

This poem was written by a carer who participated in Power On for Carers that was delivered in April/May 2008. She wrote this on behalf of the entire group of women who care for a loved one experiencing mental illness.


whw news edition 3 • 2008

WHW Submission on the Commonwealth Government’s Homelessness Green Paper Jacky Tucker, Manager Family Violence Services


oon after his election as Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd advised his colleagues to visit a homeless shelter. To many of us in the sector this was the first sign that homelessness was being taken seriously by the Commonwealth Government after many years of neglect. It was within this climate of optimism that the Commonwealth Government’s Green Paper ‘Which Way Home’ was received by the family violence and homelessness sector. We welcome the government’s commitment to, and focus on, social inclusion, prevention, early intervention and improved outcomes for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Women’s Health West (WHW) agree that a whole-of-government and wholeof-community approach is necessary to improve outcomes, recognising that many of the drivers of change lie outside the housing sector. The green paper presents ten principles to guide the ‘new national approach’ to homelessness. These principles are comprehensive and aspirational in nature. WHW agree that prevention is a crucial aim of all programs, recognising that the main causes of homelessness are the result

The main causes of homelessness include a lack of affordable housing, discrimination, deinstitutionalisation, poverty, and family violence

of structural socio-economic factors including a lack of affordable housing, discrimination, deinstitutionalisation, poverty, and family violence. While some of these factors are preventable, the admirable longerterm goal of redressing the underlying risks and causes of homelessness must be balanced with strengthening the

Artist: Julie Knoblock

crisis nature of the program to deal with current levels of homelessness. In order to achieve the government’s aim of reducing homelessness, all tiers of government must address the continued deterioration of public and community housing. The Commonwealth Government must increase its funding contribution to

Key Features of Option Four Presented By WHW 1 Introduce a ‘whole of government approach that inspires and requires different portfolios and tiers of government to work together as part of a broad holistic response based in a human rights framework’ (Parity, 21 (5):12) 2 Provide realistic and measurable plans of action 3 Build on the current Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) services and other state funded homelessness service systems. Recognising that SAAP is ‘fundamentally sound’ and successful within the current resources.

private rental, public and community housing shortage, ensuring that people who are homeless, or are at risk of homelessness, are a priority. 5 ‘Develop flexible service delivery models, that provide the right kind, intensity and duration of support to every individual taking into consideration the needs of different cohorts’ (Parity, 21 (5):12) for example the intensive case management model. This acknowledges the diversity and complexity of people’s needs, recognising that there is no one solution that fits all, e.g. that it is safe for all women to remain in the family home.

4 Develop an affordable housing strategy that addresses the current

whw news edition 3 • 2008


6 Require government and mainstream services to be accountable for developing systems that prevent homelessness. Enshrine the ‘parental responsibility’ of state governments to children in their care and introduce or expand services that link young people leaving the state care systems. 42% of people in SAAP services in 2006 had previously been in state care and protection (Chamberlain, et al, 2006). State governments must support young people to achieve independence, provide programs that better link young people to education and employment. 7 Increase the number of crisis accommodation services to meet the needs of those who do become

Western Integrated Family Violence high risk client strategy Jacky Tucker, Manager Family Violence Services the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement to pre-1996 levels. The green paper presented three options for discussion. WHW, along with the Victorian Homelessness Council, Domestic Violence Victoria and North West Metropolitan Homelessness Network and several other organisations, have proferred submissions calling on the Commonwealth Government to develop a national strategy that provides Australia with a framework to assist agencies and governments to prevent homelessness and to support people who experience or who are at risk of homelessness. To do this a fourth option must be developed that incorporates the ideas presented in option two and three of the green paper. Namely, increase the resources of the current system and build the capacity of mainstream services to meet the needs of homeless people and thus reduce demand. We look forward to the Commonwealth Government’s White Paper due for release late October 2008. A copy of the WHW submission is available on our website.

homeless and provide exit options into secure affordable housing. 8 Increase funding levels to support an already stretched and exhausted workforce not only to increase real wages but also to invest in training and maintaining a professional workforce through adequately funded professional development and supervision. KPMG on behalf of the Victorian Office of Housing conducted a workforce survey in 2007. The results of this survey should provide sufficient evidence to encourage the Commonwealth Government to invest in a workforce strategy.


he Australian Institute of Criminology figures indicate that nationwide there were seventy-four intimate partner homicides over 2005/06. Eighty per cent of these involved a man killing a woman and, in fifty-three per cent of intimate partner homicides, there was a known history of domestic violence. A High Risk Client Forum was convened by Victoria Police in February this year and involved specialist family violence services for women and children and specialist family violence services for men who used violence against women meeting to discuss how we could better work together in response to clients who are identified as being at risk to fatality or severe violence. The Victorian Police and the specialist family violence services jointly developed a Western Region High Risk Client Strategy which will be piloted for twelve months across Wyndham, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Brimbank and Melton local government areas. Agencies involved include Women’s Health West, Djerriwarrh Health Service, Relationships Australia (Sunshine) and Life Works (Werribee). A similar model is currently operating in Britain called the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC). ‘Risk assessment’ in family violence cases means trying to identify those victims who are most at risk of experiencing violence in the future. Accurate risk assessment serves several very important objectives. First, risk assessment tools (such as the Police Family Violence Incident Report) can provide a structured way for responding officers to gather detailed and relevant information from victims. This information can help provide a better service to victims, especially when shared with other agencies, because specific needs are identified. A second reason is that risk assessment can save scarce resources by helping


identify those victims in particularly dire situations that will require more intensive assistance from police and other agencies. It is hoped that expending more resources or effort ‘up front’ for these victims will pay off in terms of preventing future incidents, as it is well known that incidents of family violence escalate in severity over time. It is for this reason that some view risk assessment in cases of family violence as ‘homicide prevention’. Victorian Police now formally refer victims of family violence via e-back1 to Women’s Health West Crisis Intake Service where police have taken out a complaint and warrant against the perpetrator or where they have concerns for the safety of the woman. Police also formally refer the perpetrator of the violence via e-back to a local men’s behavioural change program. It is through this formal referral mechanism that police will notify support agencies that a woman victim has been identified as high risk. WHW will then undertake a comprehensive risk assessment with the client and where the client is identified as at very high risk call a High Risk Client Strategy (HRCS) meeting. For those incidents where a specialist family violence service identifies a client at high risk, the service will contact the duty sergeant at the nearest police station to discuss the high risk client and put an interim risk management strategy into place. The service will then provide written notification and a follow up HRCS meeting will be called. Clients will be encouraged to attend this meeting. It is expected that these meetings will provide a forum for sharing information and taking action that

1  E-back is the updated version of the ‘fax-back’ referral system where police email a referral to WHW on behalf of the woman involved.

whw news edition 3 • 2008

sexual & reproductive health edition

Victorian Parliament Supports

Women’s Right to Control Their Lives and Bodies

Cath Mayes, Sexual and Reproductive Health Coordinator


n 11 September, Dr Robyn Gregory, CEO and Cath Mayes, Sexual and Reproductive Health Coordinator witnessed a majority of members of the Legislative Assembly (Lower House) stand before parliament to support a woman’s right to control over her body and her life and again on October 10 as the Legislative Council (Upper House) voted to support the Abortion Bill without amendments. The passion, commitment and dedication of MPs, individuals and organisations who had supported the decriminalisation of abortion was tangible as we witnessed this history making moment. The Bill, based on option B of the Victorian Law Reform Commission final report, provides women with final decision making authority, up to 24 weeks gestation. After 24 weeks, final authority will reside with two medical practitioners who must consider all relevant medical circumstances and the woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances. This outcome is a fantastic step forward for Victorian women. The only way to reduce the number of abortions is to increase women’s sense of control over their bodies and their lives – and passing this Bill is a very real way of doing that. The timing of this Bill coincides with the centenary of Victorian women gaining the right to vote and Judy Maddigan,

MLA for Essendon, remarked that, in the past, “the view put forward very frequently was it was the man’s role to make decisions affecting women, who

“No woman at that stage in a pregnancy makes that decision lightly. None. I think we are demeaning women if we believe we cannot leave it to them to make that decision.” Marsha Thomson, Member for Footscray

were very much better off at home looking after the children and the house. Some very strong attacks were made on working women, suggesting that they did not have the capacity to make these decisions themselves. I would find it ironic if, 100 years later, this still maledominated house made the decision that

this house has the right to tell women in this state what they should do”. Greens MLC Colleen Hartland, echoed this sentiment, saying “it is my view that the woman having the abortion should be the one to make the choice, because it is quite obvious she is capable of making such a decision. Women are capable of making incredibly difficult decisions”. Today, women account for 26 of the 88 seats within the Legislative Assembly. The importance of having more women in parliament, particularly around issues most affecting women, was clear in the breakdown of votes between the sexes. Women in the lower house voted 19 – 6 in support of the Bill, while the men voted 28-29. This was reflected in the upper house where women, who comprise 12 of the 40 seats, voted 9 – 3 and men voted 14 – 14. MPs were afforded a conscience vote on this Bill, rather than voting along party lines. Judy Maddigan and Colleen Hartland highlighted the need for politicians to afford women the same right with regard to abortion. Melton MLA Don Nardella, strongly supported women’s right to choose, saying “women should have control over their own bodies. That is one of the most critical things that the Bill enshrines in legislation. Rather than relying on

All photos on these pages by Sarah Jefford except for photo below by Dave Greenwood

L-R Colleen Hartland (Greens MLC), David Davis (Liberal MLC), Sue Pennicuik (Greens MLC), Anne O’Rourke (Liberty Victoria), Lily D’Ambrosio (ALP MLA), Don Nardella (ALP MLA), Danielle Green (ALP MLA), Sally Cockburn (Dr Feelgood), Jo Wainer

whw news edition 3 • 2008

L-R Leslie Cannold (Pro Choice Vic), Colleen Hartland (Greens MLC), Sue Pennicuik (Greens MLC ) , Jo Wainer


L-R Danielle Green (ALP MLA), Robyn Gregory (CEO WHW), Colleen Hartland, (Greens MLC), Cath Mayes (Sexual & Reproductive Health Coordinator WHW)

rulings by judges or on the views of non-legislators in society, it is the role of this Parliament to make that decision.” This view was supported by western metropolitan MPs in the Legislative Council. Martin Pakula questioned the right of parliament and legislators to take the decision out of women’s hands, stating, “I have always believed that the termination of a pregnancy is a matter for a woman to decide”. Women’s freedom, choice and control over reproductive decisions were also supported by Khalil Eideh. Forty-one amendments were introduced in the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council debated a further 21 amendments. These amendments, designed to reduce women’s access to abortion, had already been rejected by the Victorian Law Reform Commission report to government. The Minister for Women’s Affairs, Maxine Morand, explained that, “many of the amendments are designed to restrict current practice and pose a significant risk in restricting access that currently occurs”. Concern about the nature of amendments was also addressed by the Minister for Public Transport and the Arts and MLA for Altona, Lynne Kosky, who said, “I do not believe that we should be watering down what is current clinical practice in Victoria”. Marsha Thomson, MLA for Footscray, highlighted the very personal and often traumatic experiences of women seeking to terminate a pregnancy post 20 weeks, “no woman at that stage in a pregnancy makes that decision lightly. None. I think we are demeaning

women if we believe we cannot leave it to them to make that decision”. This Bill will now become law in Victoria and provide a legal framework that reflects current clinical practice and widespread community attitudes about a woman’s right to choose. Contrary to debates within both houses, the Bill will not change the way abortion services are delivered or accessed by the majority of women. Instead, it provides clarity and legal certainty to women seeking to terminate a pregnancy and to medical practitioners who provide abortion services. The conscientious objection clause means that women who explore all of their options when faced with an unplanned / unwanted pregnancy can access services irrespective of the personal views and beliefs of practitioners opposed to abortion. WHW sincerely thank MPs for their thoughtfulness and sensitivity on this topic.

Summary of the new abortion bill Abortion will be regulated like any other medical procedure up to 24 weeks gestation.

Colleen delivering speech at pro-choice celebration after Bill was passed, ironically at a venue decorated with ‘half-naked women’ (see Hansard below).

“In fact if you sit in this chamber and look up you can see what the founders of Parliament thought of women. There are statues of half-naked women representing different virtues and no doubt having an incredibly important symbolic meaning. They are decorative, but are they really the way we want women to be viewed now? This is a setting in which we will discuss abortion law reform, but fortunately society has moved on since this place was fitted up and decorated. It is appropriate that our laws should reflect the place of women in modern society — our education, our intelligence, the responsibilities we shoulder each day and the fact that we are obviously equal with men.” Colleen Hartland MLC, Legislative Council Hansard, 7 October 2008, p27

After 24 weeks, women must gain the approval of two medical practitioners who will take into account all relevant medical circumstances and the woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances. Doctors are required to inform women if they have a conscientious objection to abortion and to provide contact details of a doctor or organisation unopposed to abortion.


whw news edition 3 • 2008

sexual & reproductive health edition

Experts create fact sheets to prevent violence Building the capacity of organisations in the western region to prevent violence against women A guide to health promotion action

Kirsten Campbell, Health Promotion Worker

“The project brought up how important it is to do learning in a group or a team…. It is in the group discussions when someone will come in with their perspective and say, ‘hey!’ … I feel skilled, but you can’t do it in isolation.” Action Research Group member


his year long action research project, a partnership between Women’s Health West (WHW) and the Primary Care Partnerships (PCPs) that engaged in capacity development work with six organisations in the western region, drew to a close in June 2008. The final meeting of the action research group and expert advisory group celebrated the significant effort made by all participants in the project. It created space for the workers involved in the action

whw news edition 3 • 2008

research group to communicate their organisational project plans to prevent violence against women. Emily Gassner (Melbourne University) also continued the evaluation process of the project with a focus group that elicited the experiences of participants in the whole project. “I’ve got a better sense of planning projects…implementation I’m yet to do. Yet the planning and understanding of what needs to go into planning a decent project is something that is clear and practical.” Action Research Group member

Facilitating participants to plan health promoting projects to prevent violence against women, along with exploring tricky aspects like ‘how do


we evaluate outcomes of violence prevention projects?’ in tandem with the expert advisory group, generated a rich compost of experience, learning, skills and knowledge. This process has been distilled into eight fact sheets designed to assist other workers in the field to plan their own projects to prevent violence against women, using health promotion as the basis from which to plan. The fact sheets explore the themes of:


evidence of need for violence prevention in the west of Melbourne


distinguishing between intervention and prevention of violence against women


identifying the determinants of violence against women


identifying population groups for violence prevention


identifying health promotion actions and settings for action for violence prevention

•• ••

planning and sustainability


monitoring and evaluation for violence prevention projects

developing goals and objectives for violence prevention projects

The fact sheets are available online vprevent.php and hard copies can be obtained from WHW – contact

Kirsten Campbell ph 8379 9013 or email “What we have learned from the project is that everyone has their own unique knowledge and skills to contribute.” Action Research Group member

The evaluation of the project is in progress, with a final report to be completed by November 2008. WHW will continue to further health promoting violence prevention work in the region by supporting organisations to implement their projects, working with local government in the west, and engaging in ongoing partnership development with the western region PCPs, amongst a range of other work.

Artist: Isis & Pluto


whw news edition 3 • 2008

Respecting Community Capacity Joy Free, Researcher

A Health Promotion Framework

The following framework is an excerpt from Joy Free’s presentation Let’s Hold Hands! Respecting Community Capacity: A Health Promotion Framework for Exploring Sustainable Social Action to the Population Health Congress in Brisbane in July this year. One of the challenges of health promotion is how to access and promote the voices and capacities of the most marginalised and disempowered population groups in our communities. It is through listening to population groups that we can identify relevant and sustainable health promotion initiatives. In the words of one refugee, “It’s about hearing our stories, and sharing our knowledge and wisdom.” The aim of this framework is help explore people’s experiences in a way that, most importantly, respects people’s voices and capacities; and that also recognises the impacts

“Sharing our knowledge and wisdom.”

Engendering leadership through research & practice Reem Omarit, FARREP Community Worker


n July, the University of Western Australia Business School hosted the Engendering Leadership through Research and Practice international conference in Perth. This included a stream entitled, ‘developing leadership’ which focussed primarily on women in leadership roles. Conference presentations explored the different leadership styles of men and women, drawing attention to the predominantly individual and largely result-driven style of

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men and the more collective and reflective approaches of women. As a result, women in leadership roles face an ongoing challenge when working in male-dominated environments where individual and hegemonic forms of leadership are often seen as ‘masculine’ and so, desirable in a leader. The role of inadequate family-friendly work policies, difficult interview boards and the absence of inspiring mentors in limiting women’s progress were also discussed.


Presentations also focussed on how to make leadership more attractive to women. This included acknowledging that competent leadership comes in diverse forms and should not be assessed using ‘masculine’ measures as well as the need to design and implement programs that harness leadership skills in women and provide them with networks and mentors. The conference also highlighted the need to address the issue of work-life balance, especially for women with families.

Impressions of A student perspective Elisha Riggs, Australian Health Promotion Association (Vic Branch) Scholarship Recipient


n the second day of the Population Health Congress in Brisbane this year, the theme was Social Cohesion, Social Capital and Health. Sally Camilleri and Kirsten Campbell from Women’s Health West (WHW) presented ‘Lead on Again: Promoting Leadership with Young Women from Diverse Backgrounds over Generations’ as part of the women’s health session. The speakers provided an informative and engaging presentation. The purpose of the presentation was to promote the ‘Lead on Again’ model as a program that has demonstrated positive outcomes with young women, newly arrived and settled, in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. The program was developed specifically for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women aged 16-24 years. It was implemented three times over a six year period. A peer education model was trialed, with the objectives to increase leadership skills, knowledge and to build capacity and confidence within the participants. The program was conducted over a twelve month period and involved five days of interactive workshops. A key outcome of this program was the development of a ‘facilitators training manual’ which included all the resources necessary to develop, implement and evaluate the program. This manual is available to purchase through the WHW website. The presentation drew attention to some of the enablers and the barriers to leadership that were identified by the participants. Enablers included: the young women’s own experiences of hardship and observing those of others, support from family and friends, and the desire to make the most of opportunities arising from coming to Australia. Barriers included: their own experiences of the refugee and resettlement process, the high personal and family expectations placed on them, language and communication issues, discouragement

from others that was often perceived as racism and discrimination, fear of failing, and the competing influences between responsibility of becoming an active leader within the community and the traditional gender expectations of women in their respective communities. Due to the fifteen minute time frame of the presentation it was difficult to cover all the important details of such a complex program. Although the presenters alluded to an evaluation of the program that indicated an increase in the young women’s confidence and knowledge, the evaluation methodology was not explained and the process, impact and outcome measures were not identified. The presenters referred to participants’ exploration of the skills that they felt were required for leadership. The presenters reported changes in participant knowledge, however did not expand on what they meant by knowledge, e.g. knowledge related to leadership, knowledge of how to facilitate workshops or knowledge around health and social issues. In order to reduce health inequalities experienced by members of these communities it is important that programs such as Lead On Again are evaluated effectively and appropriately to understand what does and doesn’t work for whom, why, where and at what cost. A highlight of the presentation was the use of audio visual equipment. The presenters provided a photo essay of the participants interacting and having fun in the workshops. We also heard the young women themselves speak about the program and how much they enjoyed and valued being involved. However, this meant that there was no time remaining for questions from the audience. A follow-up discussion with the presenters confirmed that a full report of the program development, implementation and evaluation is available, outlining this important work that is having positive outcomes within the community. Images from photo essay of the Lead On Again participants interacting and having fun in the workshops


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Powering On with confidence Stephanie Raymond, Power On for Carers Participant

Artist: Sarah Marlowe


just wanted to give you some feedback on how life changing this program has been for me. I approached the course hoping I might learn how to be assertive without being aggressive. Wow! I learned so much more, the effect on me and therefore my family has been huge. My husband has a mental illness and, while I have developed some understanding of his illness, I struggled when dealing with mental health professionals. I couldn’t create open discussion or gain respect for my opinions and input. Through Power On, I learned that I have a right to speak up and be heard, my opinion is just as important as any other person. I found the confidence I needed to follow my instincts, speak up and even to say no. I also learned that it’s okay to change my mind and I don’t need to make a decision straight away. A couple of days into the Power On program my husband needed to be hospitalised. I encouraged him to go and to take responsibility for his treatment, appointments and medication. A big step for us! Most importantly, I learned that when my husband is unwell, I need to step in and deal with the mental health professionals. I can talk their language – ‘I’ statements are a wonderful thing. I now command respect and have my questions answered. I have

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even managed to extract one or two apologies along the way.

“I no longer leave an appointment feeling like I have been given the run-around.” My husband is no longer discharged from hospital without a written health plan and ongoing treatment in place. The ward manager soon stopped his patronising approach when I announced, ‘I have good self-esteem, self-worth and complete confidence in myself, nor do I seek or require your approval’. I attribute my ability to recognise and say that directly to the Power On for Carers. I also learned to look at the positive side of life. I choose the approach that my glass is half full. “When I don’t feel so great, I say to myself “What can I do to make myself feel better?” The answer is often simple - I go for a walk or have something nice to eat. When a situation is not so simple, I ask myself what I can do to change or deal with it. Another excellent lesson learned through Power On for Carers. I am going to be happy and that is all there is to it! Life hasn’t gone to plan and at times is difficult,


but I can still enjoy it. This positive approach flows on to a happy home life for my husband and son too. Through Power On for Carers I have learned to look after myself; I will not feel guilty putting myself first. After all, how can I look after the rest of the family, if I don’t look after myself? I give myself permission to have fun. Fun can just be listening to cheery music and bopping around the house. (I must add my twelve year old son becomes quite embarrassed when I let loose and sing away in front of his friends.) Power On for Carers is by far the most effective and well-run program in every way. The facilitator is very knowledgeable with excellent communication skills; she really knows what she is doing. Then there is the peer educator, she has hands-on caring experience. Together they make a great team that provides a happy, fun, non-judging environment. We were supported to understand the importance of not talking over each other or rambling on about other subjects and woes. This was kindly acknowledged and then tactfully we returned to the days agenda. “Twelve months after the program, I Power On with confidence! I would thoroughly recommend Power On for Carers to all women in caring roles.”

sexual & reproductive health edition

Promoting Good

Sexual & Reproductive Health Amongst African Women

Cath Mayes, Sexual and Reproductive Health Coordinator. Rumia Abbas and Reem Omarit, FARREP Community Workers


n Thursday 28 August 2008, PapScreen Victoria launched three new multicultural resources:


Spreading the Word cervical cancer prevention flip chart


The Pap test – a way to prevent cervical cancer information sheet


Pap tests can prevent cervical cancer poster

Each resource provides basic information about the importance of pap tests in preventing cervical cancer. The flipchart is accompanied by clear and easy to understand illustrations for individual and group sessions. The information sheet is available in several culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) languages. New resources were developed in response to a low number of women having pap tests in CALD communities, which include African women. Multicultural resources are important for providing women from CALD backgrounds with simple and relevant information. In addition to these new resources, PapScreen Victoria ran an advertising campaign encouraging women in Melton, Wyndham and Hobsons Bay to have regular two-yearly pap tests. Pap test registry data shows that women living in these areas are well below the state two yearly screening average. FARREP workers at Women’s Health West (WHW), along with other organisations and communities were consulted during the development of these new resources. This ensured that the resources were culturally appropriate and responsive to the diverse needs of CALD women. FARREP workers are experienced in working with women from the African community around sexual and reproductive health, especially those affected by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In developing culturally relevant resources aimed at improving the sexual and reproductive health of women, it is important to understand the context within which women

experience and understand their sexual and reproductive health. African women come to Australia from developing countries where health care is rarely a government priority. In many African countries, preventative health measures such as pap tests are not available. Women, therefore, have very limited access to health services and in many areas people rely on traditional medicine in the absence of proper health care facilities. In general, African women’s understanding of health is limited to physical health and wellbeing. They do not access health services unless they are sick. African women also tend to put their health needs last, and give priority to their family. African women may not see sexual and reproductive health as part of their overall health and wellbeing. In many African communities, sex and sexual health are not discussed as they are considered very private matters. Women are therefore unlikely to recognise or prioritise their sexual and reproductive health. Migrating to, and settling within, a different culture may also have a significant impact on the health of African women and can lead to social isolation and poor access to health services. Other factors arising from the migration and resettlement experience include:


A lack of familiarity with Australia’s complex health care system and a lack of trust for health care service providers


A large number of women who do not speak English and do not always trust interpreters. Women may feel that the interpreters may not respect their privacy and confidentiality. There is also a lack of professional female interpreters. A lack of adequate transport and family support compared to their country of origin, can cause geographical isolation.


Competing priorities for women who can be overwhelmed by other responsibilities, such as taking care of their families and looking for work.

For a copy of these new multicultural resources contact Michelle Cook at PapScreen Victoria or go online for a copy of the resource order form. Phone 9634 5663 or email Amharic

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‫ﻣﺎ ﻫﻮ‬ ‫ﺑﺴﻴﻂ �ﺳﺮﻳﻊ ﻳُﺴﺘﻌﻤﻞ‬ ‫�ﻟﻤﺴﺤﺔ ﻫﻮ ﻓﺤﺺ‬ � ����� ����� ��� ��‫�ﻟﺘﻲ ﻳُﻤﻜﻨﻬﺎ �� ﺗﺆ‬ ‫�� ﻓﺤﺺ‬ ������ ���� ����� ��� ���� ‫ﻓﻲ ﺧﻼﻳﺎ ﻋﻨﻖ �ﻟﺮﺣﻢ‬ ����� ��� � ��‫ﻋﻠﻰ �ﻟﺘﻐﻴﻴﺮ‬ ‫ﻳﺴﺘﻐﺮ� ﻓﺤﺺ ﻣﺴﺤﺔ‬ ������ ���� ���� ���� .‫ﺑﺴﺮﻃﺎ� ﻋﻨﻖ �ﻟﺮﺣﻢ‬ ������ ��� ‫ﻣﺴﺤﺔ ﻋﻨﻖ �ﻟﺮﺣﻢ‬ ‫�ﻟﻰ �ﻹﺻﺎﺑﺔ‬ ����� �� ‫ �ﻳﺘ ّﻢ ﻓﺤﺺ‬.���‫ﻣﻌﺪ‬ �� ���� ��� �: ‫ﻋﻨﻖ �ﻟﺮﺣﻢ �ﻗﺎﺋﻖ‬ ��� ���� ���� ���� �� ��� ��� ��� ��� ���‫ ﺗﺤﺘﺎﺟﻴﻦ ﻟﻜﻲ‬.‫ﻣﺴﺤﺔ ﻋﻨﻖ �ﻟﺮﺣﻢ‬ ��� ��� ��� � :‫�ﻟﺘﺎﻟﻴﺔ‬ • ‫ﺑﺎﻟﻄﺮﻳﻘﺔ‬ ‫�ﺧﺼﺎﺋﻴﺔ ﺑﺈﺟﺮ�ء ﻓﺤﺺ‬ .‫�� ﻋﻠﻰ �ﺣﺪ ﺟﺎﻧﺒﻴﻚ‬ ��� ���� ّ ‫ﻣﻤﺮﺿﺔ‬ �‫ﺗﺴﺘﻠﻘﻲ ﻋﻠﻰ ﻇﻬﺮ‬ ّ ��� ��� ��� ��� ،‫• ﻳﻘﻮ� ﻃﺒﻴﺐ �� ﺧﺼﺮ� �ﻟﻰ �ﻷﺳﻔﻞ‬ speculum ‫�ﻟـ‬ ‫�ﻟﻤﻬﺒﻞ ﺗﺪﻋﻰ‬ ��������� ��� ‫ﺗﺨﻠﻌﻲ ﺛﻴﺎﺑﻚ ﻣﻦ‬ �� ‫ ﺗﺼﺒﺢ ��ﻳﺔ‬،‫�ﻷﺧﺼﺎﺋﻴﺔ ﺑﺈ�ﺧﺎ� ���� ﻓﻲ ﻮ�ﺳﻄﺘﻪ‬ ّ ‫�ﻟﻄﺒﻴﺐ �� �ﻟﻤﻤﺮﺿﺔ‬ • ��� ��� ‫ﻓﺘﺢ �ﻟﻤﻬﺒﻞ ��ﺳﻌﺎ �ﺑ‬ �‫• ﺳﻴﻘﻮ‬ lum ‫�ﻇﻴﻔﺔ ﻫﺬ� �ﻷ��� ﻫﻲ‬ ���-���/specu ،‫�ﻟﻤﻨﻈﺎ� �ﻟﻄﺒّﻲ‬ ���� ����� ���� .‫ﻋﻨﻖ �ﻟﺮﺣﻢ ��ﺿﺤﺔ‬ �� ‫ﻣﻮﺟﻌﺎ �ﻧﻤﺎ ﻗﺪ ﻳﺴﺒﺐ‬ ��� ������ lum ‫�ﻟﻔﺤﺺ ﻟﻴﺲ ﻣﺆﻟﻤﺎ �ﻻ‬ • �‫ ��� ﺷﻌﺮ‬،�‫ﻹ�ﺗﻴﺎ‬ ���-���/specu ��� � �‫ﻟﻚ ﺑﻌﺾ ﻋﺪ‬ � ���� ���� ����� ‫ﻣﻮﺟﻊ �ﺑﻠﻐﻲ �ﻟﻄﺒﻴﺐ‬ � ���� ��� ‫�� �ﻟﻔﺤﺺ‬ ���� ���� ����� �� ��� �� ��� .��‫�� �ﻟﻤﻤﺮﺿﺔ ﻓﻮ‬ � ���� ��� ���� ���� ��� ���� • ���� ‫�ﻟﻄﺒﻴﺐ �� �ﻟﻤﻤﺮﺿﺔ‬ ‫ ﻣﺴﺘﻌﻤﻼ‬،‫ﻋﻨﻖ �ﻟﺮﺣﻢ‬ ���� ���� �‫• ﺳﻴﻘﻮ‬ ����� ��� ‫ﻣﻦ �ﻟﺨﻼﻳﺎ ﻋﻦ ﺳﻄﺢ‬ ��� .�‫ﻋﻠﻰ �ﻗﻴﻘﺔ ﻣﻦ �ﻟﺰﺟﺎ‬ ��� ‫ﺧﺼﺎﺋﻴﺔ ﺑﺄﺧﺬ ﻋﻴّﻨﺔ‬ ��� ���� ��� ‫�ﻟﺨﻼﻳﺎ‬ ‫�ﻹ‬ ���� ��� �‫�� ﻓﺮﺷﺎ� �ﻳﻀﻊ ﻫﺬ‬ �� ������ �� ��� ��� ‫���� ﻣﺒﺴﻄﺔ ﻣﻠﺴﺎء‬ .‫�ﺳﺒﻮ� �� �ﺳﺒﻮﻋﻴﻦ‬ ��� ��� ‫ﻟﺬﻟﻚ‬ • ��� ��� �‫�ﻟﻨﺘﻴﺠﺔ ﻣﺒﺪﺋﻴﺎ ﺧﻼ‬ � �� ���� �‫ُﺸﻐﻞ ﺑﺎﻟﻚ ﺑﺸﺄ‬ ‫ﻳﻤﻜﻦ �ﻟﺤﺼﻮ� ﻋﻠﻰ‬ ����� ���� ������ �� ‫ﺗ‬ • ��� ���� �‫ﻤﻤﺮﺿﺔ ��� ﻛﺎﻧﺖ ﻟﺪﻳﻚ �ﻳﺔ �ﺳﺌﻠﺔ �� �ﻣﻮ‬ �� ��� ���� ��� ��� ‫ﺪّ� ﻣﻊ ﻃﺒﻴﺒﻚ �� �ﻟ‬ � ���� ��� ‫ﻗﻮﻣﻲ ﺑﺎﻟﺘﺤ‬ .���‫�ﻛﻴﻒ ﻳﺘ ّﻢ �ﺟﺮ‬ ��� ���� • ���� ��� ‫ﻣﺴﺤﺔ ﻋﻨﻖ �ﻟﺮﺣﻢ‬ � ��� ��� ‫ﻓﺤﺺ‬ ��� �� ���� ��� ��� ����� ��� ��� ��� ��� ���� ���� ��� ��… ‫�ﻗﻠﺒﻲ �ﻟﺼﻔﺤﺔ‬ ������ ��� ���� ���� 5360 Fax: 03 9635 03 9635 5000 VIC 3053 Tel: Street, Carlton 1 Rathdowne papscre en@can

1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton papscre en@can VIC 3053 Tel: cervic.o 03 www.papscreen 9635 5000 Fax: 03 9635 5360

New PapScreen information sheets explain pap tests in multiple languages

Artist: Isis & Pluto


whw news edition 3 • 2008

Women in the region sexual & reproductive health edition

Lillian & Gail

Words and pictures by Scout Kozakiewicz


ail and Lillian are like peas in a pod. They are the kind of couple that leave you feeling slightly envious, their devotion obvious. It’s as if Gail and Lillian have arrived, they are finally home. Coming out later in life has given them great insight into the special needs and obstacles that older lesbians face with regard to their identity and the services that are available to these women. “There are a lot of older women, and they don’t know what it is, but they know their life is not satisfactory. They find it very hard to talk to somebody about it because they think they are the only ones. We knew of a couple that was together for forty-eight years. They told no-one. They thought they were odd,” Lillian reflects. Lillian came out at sixty, after thirty-five years of marriage, a couple of kids and a lifetime of waiting. It was only when her husband passed that she felt free from obligations and expectations. Gail came out at forty, but had a few closeted relationships up until then. The relief she felt when she made her first efforts to be part of the lesbian community is palpable, even as she describes it today. “If I don’t meet some women soon, I am gonna go bonkers. Just people to talk to and go out with,” she told a friend. She heard about Lynx, a support group for lesbians, it wasn’t the first time this group had been mentioned. “I always think your whole life is pointed in a direction and it just happens, you know? You don’t have to try too much, just be open to what’s there. I was starting to feel I was becoming myself and being true to myself. I wasn’t living in a vacuum.” Both women volunteer with the Matrix Guild of Victoria, an organisation originally formed by a group of women to raise money for a nursing home for lesbians. The concept has evolved to

whw news edition 3 • 2008

providing support for older lesbians in their own homes, according to specific needs. The initial impetus to solve the lack of care and understanding in mainstream nursing homes has been channelled into a research paper, financed by the Reichstein Foundation. They document the experiences of those living in supported care, but also the attitudes of staff and other clients. It’s a slow process, as not many elderly lesbians are ‘out’ in the nursing homes due to prevailing homophobic attitudes. Once all the information has been gathered, the paper will be sent to parliament. “And hopefully when that gets there, they will work upon it and legislate, so we are recognised,” says Lillian. Gail and Lillian are proud of their high profile within the gay community; they enjoy being role models for younger gays. Lillian remembers a young gay couple telling her, “We always wondered what happened to lesbians when they get old.” But then Lillian


relates the struggle of a young lesbian teen coming to terms with her identity and confessing, “‘I thought I didn’t have a future.’ She was at the point where she thought, ‘Do I kill myself, or is there something for me?’” These days Gail and Lillian are just as relaxed as can be. “We don’t rush around and scream it from the roof tops, but if anyone asks us…” Together for nine years, Lillian states, “We are more settled and ready and now it’s just like we have been together always.” “Yes, very comfortable,” agrees Gail.

This interview and photograph is part of the Tapestries: Stories of Everyday Activism exhibition travelling around the western region and available for loan to community organisations in the western region of Melbourne. Contact WHW for details on 9689 9588 or email

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building thE capacity a guidE to of hEalth proM organisations in thE wEst otion actio Ern rEgio n n to prEv Ent violE ncE again st woMEn:

Building the capacity of organisations in the western region to prevent violence against women: A GUIDE TO HEALTH PROMOTION ACTION


his series of fact sheets emerges from an action research group project where workers from six organisations in the west of Melbourne puzzled together over how to plan a project to prevent violence against women using health promotion tools. VicHealth and the National Community Crime Prevention Program funded the project over 2007 and 2008.


EvidEncE prEvEnti of nEEd for viol on in thE En wEst of M cE Elbour why is

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her about preve nting violence a • It is a fund gainst wom en anyway? amental vio lation of hu • It is incredi man rights. bly serious, pre valent and prev • The effect • 1 in 5 Victo entable. 1 it has on w rian women omen, children, experience it in organisatio • If we don’ families, comm ns, and societie their life time. 2 t, women and c unities, s is devastating hildren will cont preventable illne . inue to suffer fr ss, disease and om • In short, it death. is our resp onsibility as citiz society to bothe ens of a de r! mocratic dEfinitions Violence against women is:

‘any act of gende is likely to result r-based violence that results in, physical, or suffering sexual or menta in, or to women, l harm includ coercion or arbitrary depriv ing threats of such acts, occurring in ation of liberty public or in , whether private life.’

This encompas ses, ‘physical, s violence oc exual and psyc currin including batte g in the family and in the g hological ring, sexual ab eneral com violence, ra munity, pe, female geni use of children, dow ry-related tal mutilation a practices h armful to w nd other traditio omen violence re nal lated to exploita , non-spousal violenc e and tion, sexual ha intimidation at w rassment a ork, in educatio nd trafficking in wo nal institutions men, forced pro and elsewh perpetrated ere, stitut ion, a or condon nd violence ed by the s tate.’ 3 Other common terms are – sexu abuse, genderbased violence al assault, relationship domestic v , family violence iolence, and in , timate partner v Violence is per iolence. petuated b y structural and realities as well social as perpetrated While viole by individuals. nce agains t wom socio-econ omic, cultural a en occurs across all nd other groupi the poverty, iso ngs, lation and discr some wom imination en face becaus e of the structural circu mstances of th can place some eir lives women an d children more at risk tha n others. This violence ag is because ainst women is a direct result of unequal pow er. The less po the woman werful , the more vuln erable she is to violence, a nd the lower he to remove h erself from dang r ability domestic s erous ituations.

Each fact sheet explores a different theme of planning projects to prevent violence against women. We intend these to be a ‘jumping off point’ rather than an exhaustive compilation, and we hope they are helpful. Read more about the process of creating the fact sheets on page 10 of this edition. To order your violence prevention fact sheet pack, please contact Veronica at Women’s Health West on 9689 9588 or veronica@ or check our website Artist: Isis & Pluto

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Building the capacity of organisations in the western region to prevent violence against women: a guide to health promotion action

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whw news edition 3 • 2008

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EVENTS AND NOTICES Cards for Planet Ark 25 December – 31 January 2009

World AIDS Day 1 December 2008 This year is the 19th Anniversary of World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day and AIDS Awareness Week aims to raise awareness in the community about HIV/AIDS issues, including the need for support and understanding for people living with HIV/AIDS, and the need for the development of education and prevention initiatives.

From Boxing Day till the end of January take your unwanted Christmas, birthday and other greeting cards and envelopes to any Coles supermarket and put them in the Planet Ark recycling bins. You can also pick up a free postage-paid recycling envelope from participating Australia Post outlets. The greeting cards are made into new packaging or toilet tissue. This recycling process saves trees and dramatically reduces waste, giving the environment a very happy New Year.

Midsumma Festival 2009 – A Queer Coming of Age January 18th – February 8th 2009 In 2009, Midsumma turns twenty one. Melbourne’s annual gay and lesbian festival is a federation of arts and cultural events spread over six municipalities and over 60 venues across Melbourne. Carnival will be held in the Alexandra Gardens on Sunday 18 January 2009. Check au for details of other events.

International Volunteers Day 5 December 2008

International Women’s Day

International Volunteer Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985. It is now celebrated world wide with thousands of volunteers involved in a range of initiatives aimed to highlight the invaluable contribution volunteers make to their communities.

8 March 2009

For more information, and to see how you can help celebrate this important day, visit www.

Pride March 1 February 2009 Pride March is a public march down Fitzroy Street, St Kilda to celebrate the courage, solidarity, pride, diversity and strong sense of community of Victoria’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender people. Albert Park – Fitzroy St and Lakeside Drive.

IWD is a major day of global celebration for the political and social achievements of women. Women’s Health West will host an event for the women of the western metropolitan region of Melbourne, check www.whwest. for details closer to the time.

Radical Campaigns that changed Australia From The Seeds of Dissent calendar produced by 3CR 855AM, Melbourne’s activist radio station. Radical dates sourced by Iain McIntyre of the 3CR calendar team. 3 November 1920

Aboriginal author and activist, Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) is born in North Stradbroke Island.

16 November 1979

In Melbourne, the first Reclaim The Night march is organised by Women Against Rape.

20 November 1972

The first public march in Victoria for abortion rights is held.

1 December 1972

200 demonstrate in Melbourne against the psychiatric repression of gays and lesbians.

5 December 1972

After a long dispute with her union, Joyce Day becomes Victoria’s first female tram driver.

15 December 1882

The first formal trade union for women, the Tailoresses’ Union, is formed.

16 December 1903

First Australian women stand for Parliament. Vida Goldstein, Nellie Martel, and Mary Ann Moore Bentley stand for the Senate, and Selina Siggins for the seat of Dalley in the House of Representatives.

21 December 1894

South Australian women become the first to win the right to vote in State elections.

19 January 1972

Gay Liberation is founded in Sydney

21 February 1981

The first Summer Gay Pride Mardi Gras is held in Sydney.

25 February 1972

The first Victorian demonstration for childcare is held at the City Square in Melbourne.

5 March 1928

The Militant Women’s Group holds Australia’s first International Women’s Day rally in Sydney.

11 March 2003

1000 naked women in Byron Bay protest the looming war in Iraq by spelling out “No War” with their bodies.

19 March 1979

In Melbourne, unions win maternity leave for all private industry.

20 March 1895

Women win the vote in South Australia. Queen Victoria signs her assent to the Bill passed by the South Australian parliament on 18 December 1894.

28 March 2000

Pioneering women’s liberation activist Jessie Mary (Bon) Hull dies at age 85.


whw news edition 3 • 2008

Healing is Child’s Play at Phillip Island Wan Chi, Children’s Support Worker


here is a Chinese proverb that states, ‘It is more beneficial to walk a thousand miles than to read a thousands books’. The meaning of this statement is not to undermine the importance of reading but to emphasise the benefit of excursions and travel. I’m sure that participants of the Phillip Island wildlife trips would agree, having seen so many different kinds of Australian native animals. The wildlife trips were held on 4 and 11 of July and 12 women and 28 children participated. We saw many

native animals at the wildlife park including koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, dingoes, emus, donkeys, crocodiles, and even some talkingparrots. It was so enjoyable to watch the pelicans being fed at San Remo. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and a wonderful performance at the Heritage Farm on Churchill Island. We explored the Koala Conservation Centre with a helpful and informative ranger and finally everyone assembled at the Penguin Parade to watch the little

penguins waddle up the beach and make their way back ‘home’. The coach trip was also great fun, in fact one of the coach drivers said “Gosh, what noisy children!” He was right. We sang, talked and played on the way which showed that we had so much fun and happiness during the trip. Children learn by playing and play must always be a privilege of childhood. So let’s not forget to allow children to have fun and enjoyment even when a family is undergoing challenging times and changes.

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WHW News edition 3 2008  
WHW News edition 3 2008  

# Victorian women win reproductive freedom # WHW submission on the commonwealth government's homelessness green paper # Experts create fact...