Page 1

whw news

Edition 3 • 2009

sexual & reproductive health edition

Karen women’s financial literacy group p.15

inside: Video launch p.7


A word from the ceo


elcome to the third edition of WHW News for 2009 – our sexual and reproductive health edition. No doubt you are getting the hang of our new format, which is to base each edition on one of WHW’s three priorities for promoting women’s health, safety and wellbeing. A number of articles are specifically marked to underline our work in one of these areas in each edition. One year on from the anniversary of the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria is a fine time for our sexual and reproductive health edition. As other states struggle with their abortion laws, it is with some relief that we reflect on a job well done and consider the next steps in Victoria. Our Sexual and Reproductive Health Promotion Worker, Anna Vu, reflects on some of these steps in her article on pages 8-9. She also points out, in an introduction on page 2, the importance of recognising the broad range of factors that determine women’s sexual and reproductive health – encouraging us to think beyond pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The importance of taking a broad view of sexual and reproductive health is also illustrated in an article on page 12 by one of our health promotion workers, Lucy Forward.

Dr Robyn Gregory

Lucy revisits Laverton Prep-12, the focus of our 2007-08 ‘whole school’ sexual and reproductive health project, to discover that the students are continuing to take the lead in some exciting and inspiring projects. Talking to Lucy after this visit was like talking to a proud mum whose kids had grown up and gone out into the world to do great things! One of our Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program workers, Reem Omarit, has focused her attention on working with maternal and child health nurses as a follow up to her research project exploring their experiences when working with African women affected by FGM. You can read about this on page 13. Our staff have written about a range of other projects undertaken in the last few months. This includes an article about the outcomes of the financial literacy project by Sally Camilleri, which you might remember her introducing in a previous newsletter. Lindy Corbett has undertaken an evaluation of one of the Sunrise women’s group with excellent outcomes, and Kirsten Campbell lets us know what is happening in relation to prevention of violence against women in the western region. Maureen Smith, Regional Integration Coordinator, also provides information about her role in facilitating the integration of family violence service systems in our region.

Continued p.2

women’s health west ­– equity and justice for women in the west

intervention orders, breaches and evidence Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland shows how to collect evidence safely

strategic thinking p.8 Find out why we should have a national sexual and reproductive health strategy

A history of sexual and reproductive health at WHW p.10

A sneak preview of the history book

Continued from p.1 Arguably the highlight of our work at WHW since our last newsletter was the launch of a short film showing how women can gather evidence of a breach of an intervention order. As you would have seen in our last newsletter, this was a wonderfully collaborative project involving our family violence, communications, operations and health promotion teams. Our staff were thrilled to participate in producing something that will be of such practical assistance to women. We were also delighted to have Chief Commissioner Simon Overland launch the film – both for his presence and for what it says about his commitment to dealing effectively with family violence. See page 7 for more information about the film. As we go to press I am reading the final draft of our history book, REtroSPECT: 21 years of women’s health in the west of Melbourne – see pages 10, 11 and 18 for a teaser – which we are privileged to have former Premier Joan Kirner launch at our annual general meeting and 21st birthday party on 25 November (see page 17 for details). We have arranged catering by the amazing Mary and Steve and ‘groovy gals’ A2G will perform songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s. We promised there’d be dancing and what better accompaniment than some feminist anthems from decades gone by!

ISSN # 1834-7096 Editor: Nicola Harte Newsletter Group: Katherine Koesasi, Jacky Tucker, Veronica Garcia, Nicola Harte Contributors to this edition: Anna Vu, Bill Moon, Christian Asourian, Deanna Ganyu, Esther Singer, Isis&Pluto, Kirsten Campbell, Lauren Eagle, Lindy Corbett, Lisa Field, Lucy Forwood, Maureen Smith, Nicola Harte, Reem Omarit, Robyn Gregory, Sally Camilleri, Sarah Marlowe, Scout Kozakiewicz, Tammy, Veronica Garcia, Vicky Photographers: Veronica Garcia, Scout Kozkiewicz, Tamla Benjamin, Sally Camilleri, Joy Free Design and layout: Susan Miller, 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 vision and goals. Short items are preferred. Email contributions to and include your name, email address and phone number. WHW reserves the right to edit any contribution. Read this edition and archives of WHW News online at Edition 3 published: November 2009 Deadline for edition 1: Tuesday 23 February 2010

whw news edition 3 • 2009

sexual & reproductive health edition Anna Vu, Sexual and Reproductive Health Promotion Worker

“There are a number of constraints to women's equality with men, many based on women's role in childbearing and child rearing. Women work harder in the home than men. They carry most of the responsibility for household management, housework and childcare, and caring for elderly or disabled family members. The demand of multiple roles can be overwhelming and highly stressful for women and impacts severely on their physical and mental wellbeing.” Women's Health West Health Promotion Plan 2006-2009


omen’s Health West (WHW) recognises that in order to achieve the best possible sexual and reproductive health outcomes, women need to be free from violence and discrimination on the basis of their sexuality, ability, cultural background or age. They must have access to adequate economic, physical and psychosocial resources and must have control over sexual and reproductive decision-making. These determinants of sexual and reproductive health help guide WHW’s work in this area. We recognise that sexual and reproductive health is more than the absence of sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancies. It is also about healthy relationships, positive body image, sexual pleasure and women’s equal status in society. Now is an exciting time for advocates, as sexual and reproductive health gains long-awaited attention at both state and national levels. Articles in this newsletter highlight some of these developments, as well as reporting on some of Women’s Health West’s work on this priority area.

Sexual and reproductive health articles are marked with this stamp:

sexual & reproductive health edition 2

Behind the scenes WHW Board Report Lisa Field


Definition: Succession planning The primary goal of board or organisational succession planning is to prepare for planned or sudden departures of key people to ensure the continuous coverage of duties critical to the ongoing operation of the organisation and its services to clients. Women’s Health West Succession Planning Procedure


uccession planning for the board and the CEO is part of the agenda for the performance management and succession planning sub-committee. While we do not envisage the need to plan for a new CEO in the short term, the board does identify the need for the organisation to be in good hands while the current CEO is away - either during a planned absence or an unplanned departure. This year we developed a CEO succession planning policy and procedure to plan for all instances of succession. Another important aspect of succession planning is board recruitment. This year a vacancy arose mid term and we undertook selection procedures to identify a suitable replacement. We identified gaps by auditing the skills of current board directors and measuring

those against our key responsibilities and accountabilities. This gave us a clear idea of the skills required in a future board director. We met many fine candidates and ultimately selected and co-opted June Kane to the board. June’s work covers research and strategy, program and policy planning, capacity building, evaluation and monitoring. Her international expertise in human rights is specifically in the fields of child labour, sexual abuse and exploitation, violence against children and women, and human trafficking. June also volunteers on the Bill Hutchison Foundation, which aims to have a positive effect on the lives of children and young people by implementing or supporting harm prevention actions.

Tribute to Aurora McLean


t is with great sadness that the staff and board of Women’s Health West inform our colleagues and peers of the death of Aurora McLean. Aurora passed away on Thursday 8 October 2009 after a long struggle with ovarian cancer. Aurora worked with WHW for a number of years in our family violence team and her hard work, team spirit, warm smile and cheeky humour will be greatly missed by her friends, colleagues and the women she supported. During her long career, Aurora dedicated her skills and passion in various capacities with other organisations. She will be remembered as a strong, passionate and courageous woman who contributed widely to her community. Women’s Health West would like to express our sincere condolences to Aurora’s family, sons and to her partner, Jacquie.

WHW Staff Isabelle



Family Violence Outreach Worker

Family Violence Outreach Worker

Family Violence Outreach Worker

Between life, travel and attempting other courses, completing my Bachelor of Social Work at RMIT took a number of years and gave me great opportunities in community development education and training in Bangladesh and India. Here in Melbourne I’ve worked in youth drug and alcohol services and in women’s housing. I particularly enjoy working in gender-specific services – working for women in collaboration with female colleagues towards a shared vision of equality and promoting women’s rights and interests.

This is my first ‘real’ job, having spent many arduous years as a waitress while completing my social work degree. While hospitality is in many ways unrelated to community services, the transition from Blue Train Café to WHW was not as severe as you might imagine considering the potential for things to reach crisis point if people did not receive their food on time – especially if they were going to the theatre! Handing my aprons to an op-shop was cathartic.

While studying for a social work degree at Victoria University, I was introduced to WHW where I had my first placement and revelled in learning different aspects of social work. My second placement and first out-of-uni job was in foster care in an adolescent community placement program – a great learning experience. But I longed to return to the family violence sector as working in a role that empowers women has always been a passion for me. I believe that everyone has the right to live free of violence.


whw news edition 3 • 2009

Women in the region


sexual & reproductive health edition

Words and pictures by Scout Kozakiewicz


iri heads PEER1, a violence prevention program conducted throughout schools in the western region. Kiri developed the program for West CASA2 as an extension of their counselling and support services. Violence prevention is an emerging field that Kiri is passionate about promoting. ‘It’s shifted the playing field so that violence [prevention] isn’t just about feminism; it’s a public health issue. It’s got serious health impacts and serious financial impacts, which always has a lot of weight with the government.’

‘…violence [prevention] isn’t just about feminism; it’s a public health issue’

Kiri feels she has finally found her path with the combination of prevention, women’s health and community work. ‘I remember at times feeling as if my career was all over the place. I don’t have vocational qualifications or I don’t know what I want to do. I feel that now I am at a place where it has all come together and I feel that, yeah, I do know what I am doing; I do have something to offer. I am really happy with where I am at and being able to make a difference is really important to me.’

easier it is to get more; the less power you have, the harder it is to get.’ ‘Through power, we talk about gender and how gender and power interact. Then we go into violence in relationships, because most assault happens with somebody you know. We broaden the definition of violence, about emotional and physical as well as financial abuse and we talk about the way power interacts with a domestic violence situation. It’s about power and control.’

2  The western branch of Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault

‘We talk about sexual assault, the law and consent and some of the complexities around consent. I guess I am starting to understand consent as a process, rather than you give consent at one point and it’s yes or no. It’s actually an ongoing thing that you have to keep thinking about. It’s about an ongoing relationship of trust between two people and ensuring there are conditions for that trust to be able to happen. So we talk about consent as being a free agreement, as being unpressured.’

whw news edition 3 • 2009


Kiri trains peer educators, who are young university students, to conduct the workshop with high school students. ‘One of the great things about this model is the mentoring that I see going on. We start off talking about power in our society and the way that it clusters. Like the more power you have the 1  Promoting Equal Empowering Relationships

It’s hard to quantify the impact of a preventative program but as one of the peer educators realised, ‘It’s like we are going out there and there’s this big, wrong idea in the world about women and about relationships. We are going out and putting a little dent in that idea, we are spreading a good idea, a different way of thinking about relationships.’ Kiri’s approach to activism is very personal; she has found an ethos that works for her. ‘I have never wanted to fight. I understand the need to fight for your rights and that sort of thing and that certainly is important. But I never wanted to look for a fight, I guess. So the work that I am doing now really suits me because it’s a way of being active without necessarily being confrontational. It’s a big part of my practice. Looking at how to make change in the world and supporting people to make change in their world by creating space, rather than try and push people around.’

Respect and Equity: Building Organisational Capacity, Preventing Violence Against Women Kirsten Campbell, Health Promotion Worker


ate Gilmore’s strong and inspiring words clearly sum up why Women’s Health West continue to advocate, strategise, and partner with organisations in the west to prevent violence against women. Our VicHealth funded project ‘Building the capacity of organisations in the western region to prevent violence against women: A guide to health promotion action’ was completed in 2008. Since then, we have continued to work to prevent violence against women in the region. Our ongoing work is guided by the evaluation of the project, which found that commitment and action was needed from every level of an organisation – from CEO to casual employee – for prevention work to be planned, implemented and sustained. A subsequent mapping process with each local government and community health organisation in the west identified a range of engagement strategies to garner that commitment. These are now being implemented by WHW in tandem with the Primary Care Partnerships (PCP) in the region.

2010-2020. This inaugural state plan will be launched on 25 November 2009 and will complement the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children, launched in April. WHW have long called for a focus on prevention as a necessary adjunct to responding to the needs of women and children affected by family violence. This long term commitment by the state and federal governments is a huge leap forward and holds the promise of us being able to rise to the challenge laid down by Kate Gilmore.

‘Violence against women is a human rights scandal of unparalleled dimension; it is a cultural, social and political malignancy rooted in prejudice, bigotry and discrimination whose eradication must be sought without reservation, without equivocation, and without delay.’ Kate Gilmore, Executive Deputy Secretary General, Amnesty International

Prevention of violence against women was nominated as a priority area for 2009-2012 by the HealthWest PCP (which includes agencies from the local government areas of Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton and Wyndham) and WHW nominated as the lead agency. We are convening a Preventing Violence Against Women Working Group with the critical aim of developing a high level strategy that engages organisations in the region by June 2010. WHW are also participating in the local government and community health working group with the Office for Women’s Policy. This is one of five working groups established to assist in the development of the State Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women

Illustration: Julie Knoblock


whw news edition 3 • 2009

Integrated Family Violence service system The State-wide Partnership Agreement


Maureen Smith, Family Violence Regional Integration Coordinator (RIC)


here is a Regional Integration Coordinator (RIC) employed in each DHS region (or sub-region) in Victoria to support the work of the statewide integrated family violence service system reforms. The reforms aim, essentially, to have a well integrated service system that responds to the needs of women and children who experience family violence and holds men accountable for their violence. In the western metropolitan sub-region this community leadership position is auspiced by Women’s Health West and I am employed as the RIC. My role is to provide resources, support and assistance with integration to those that make up the family violence service system in the western sub-region. This includes members of the western women’s and children’s family violence consortium and the north and west metropolitan regional men’s integrated family violence partnership. A range of essential agencies is represented on the Western Integrated Family Violence Committee and together we have developed a plan for integration. My

job involves supporting, promoting and reviewing the actions in this plan to ensure we can achieve our goals. This plan is integrated with the strategic regional plan, which I support along with the northern RIC. One of the major goals of integration is in the area of child and family services. The child protection and family violence sectors initially evolved as quite separate service systems, despite the fact that many children requiring protection live in families where their mother’s ability to protect them is compromised by her own experiences of violence. These sectors are now working together to establish a family violence, Child First (family services) and child protection partnership agreement. This agreement is designed to build a collaborative relationship between the three sectors at a statewide and local level, and includes broad aims for practice, such as the safety, protection and wellbeing of children; the safety and empowerment for victims of family violence (mainly women and children) and the responsibility and

We say NO to violence

accountability of perpetrators of family violence (mainly men). In the north west metropolitan region the partnership has been named ‘Think Child’. On 1 April 2009 we held a forum to explore collaborative approaches to working with children who have experienced family violence. The information gathered from the forum was then used to develop subsequent workshops. On 1 September 2009 a state-wide partnership agreement forum, Working Towards Collaboration, was held to target practitioners and managers across the three sectors. Over 200 participants attended the forum, including representatives of Victoria Police. One of the highlights of the day was a presentation by the Honourable Judge Jennifer Coate, State Coroner, on the systemic review of family violence deaths. I am also involved in an exciting initiative, where the western region local government family violence prevention network has re-established to promote work to prevent violence against women.

Vicky, Family Violence Outreach Worker


his September the WHW family violence team gathered for a planning day with a difference. The serious part of the day involved linking WHW’s strategic plan with the family violence team’s visions and goals for the next three years. In order to bring left and right sides of the brain together, the team also creatively expressed their experiences. One group created a sculpture representing the tree of life, the other performed a rap and a song penned by Vicky, one of our fantastic Spanish-speaking workers – see below. Violence is not To stop the abuse Women don’t need Or to be hurt Stop the crime

Acceptable Let’s sing this song To feel more pain We’ve had enough For that I say

No no no no no nó No no no no no nó No no no no no nó No no no no no nó

No more violence por favor Leave us women alone Injustice no no more All the violence must stop

Women are targeted To be mistreated Your mother is No more excuses Change the attitude

They don’t deserve And killed in vain A woman too And change the tune For that I say

whw news edition 3 • 2009


No no no no no nó No no no no no nó No no no no no nó No no no no no nó

No more violence por favor Leave us women alone Injustice no no more All the violence must stop

Violence kills more Earthquakes, tsunamis My sister is Deserves the best Like Mother Earth

Than hurricanes It makes no sense A woman who As all women do For that I say

No no no no no nó No no no no no nó No no no no no nó No no no no no nó

No more violence por favor Leave us women alone Injustice no no more All the violence must stop!

YouTube video combats Action! violence against women in the west Nicola Harte, Communications Coordinator


n 1 October 2009, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland launched an innovative new YouTube video at Women’s Health West. The short film shows women how to collect evidence if their intervention order has been breached. Family violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15-44. Courts issue intervention orders against perpetrators of violence to protect women and children who have experienced family violence. The orders outline certain conditions to increase the woman’s safety. Unfortunately, intervention orders are frequently ignored by perpetrators and those conditions then breached, seriously compromising the safety of family violence victims. A breach of an intervention order is a criminal offence and Victoria Police take all breaches seriously. In 2007/08, they charged perpetrators for breaches of intervention orders in 7547 instances. This increased to 7791 in 2008/09 (an increase of 3% from 2007/08). However, it has consistently proved difficult for women to provide police with evidence of the breach, given it regularly occurs in private or without witnesses. ‘What if the intervention order is breached? How to collect evidence’ is a five minute film featuring local women demonstrating simple and practical ways of gathering evidence.

WHW and Victoria Police worked in partnership to produce this film and accompanying brochure, recognising that it is vital for women’s safety that they understand their rights, and methods for gathering evidence of any breaches of their intervention order. The film offers important advice in new and accessible ways to increase the safety of women in the west, to make the difficult job of policing these breaches easier and to ensure that men who perpetrate violence are held accountable for their actions. WHW were very pleased to have Simon Overland launch the film. As our CEO commented at the launch, his presence provided a practical and a symbolic statement of the seriousness of family violence as well as reinforcing the clear commitment by the Chief Commissioner and Victoria Police to responding effectively to this problem.

Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland and WHW CEO Robyn Gregory

The film is on YouTube, the Victoria Police website, the Women’s Health West website, and will soon be available on other family violence organisation websites and on DVD. While three quarters of women in the north-west metropolitan region have home internet access, we have also produced DVDs for those women unable to access the YouTube version. Women experiencing abuse from family members can contact Women’s Health West on 9689 9588, or 1800 015 188 after working hours, or Victoria Police on 000.

Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland launching the YouTube video

Film still with Lucy and Tammy

Police, government and community workers gather to watch the film PHOTOGRAPHER Sally Camilleri

PHOTOGRAPHER Veronica Garcia


whw news edition 3 • 2009

sexual & reproductive health edition

Towards a national

sexual and reproductive health


Anna Vu, Sexual and Reproductive Health Promotion Worker


he Victorian government is making positive steps towards recognising the importance of sexual and reproductive health, with the Department of Human Services making it a health promotion priority for 2007-2012 and establishing a sexual and reproductive health taskforce. These steps coincide with the end of a thirty-year battle to have abortion removed from the criminal code last year, and together suggest a shift in attitude toward this aspect of women’s health and wellbeing. Despite these achievements at a statewide level, sexual and reproductive health is yet to gain sufficient national attention; current policies focus on specific diseases or problem areas. For example, Australia had a national sexually transmissible infections strategy for 2005-08, as well as a national HIV/ AIDS strategy and a national helpline for women with an unplanned pregnancy was established. These strategies have been presented in isolation from other sexual and reproductive health or associated health priorities. This fragmented and medically-based approach, which focuses on negative aspects of sexual and reproductive health, also tends to neglect the positive associations with sexuality and sexual desire that can come from a recognition of people’s sexual and reproductive rights within a social model of health. In 2000 the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care recommended that a national sexual and reproductive health strategy be developed and calls for such a strategy have recently been renewed by some key agencies. They argue in a joint paper that ‘sexual and reproductive health is important throughout life. It is fundamental

whw news edition 3 • 2009

to a positive identity and for the enjoyment of social relationships’1. The paper shows that sexual and reproductive ill health in Australia disproportionately affects particular groups such as same-sex attracted people, people with disabilities, in prison and from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including refugees. This notion underpins WHW’s work in sexual and reproductive health, as our programs are designed to reach women who belong to these groups. Sexual and reproductive health has strong links with other determinants of health, such as violence against women, drugs and alcohol, and mental health. For example, women experiencing intimate partner violence are more likely to experience unplanned pregnancy, miscarriage and termination of pregnancy 2. By creating a national sexual and reproductive health strategy, links between other health strategies could be made and coordinated. WHW has long identified sexual and reproductive health as one of our three health promotion priorities and is committed to a coordinated approach to the sexual and reproductive health of the women in our region. Now that the HealthWest Partnership, which covers five local government areas in the western region, has made sexual and reproductive health an emerging priority area for integrated health 1  O’Rourke, K., 2008, Time for a national sexual and reproductive health strategy for Australia – Background paper, Public Health Association of Australia, Sexual Health & Family Planning Australia, Australian Reproductive Health Alliance. 2  Taft, A. and Watson, L., 2007, ‘Termination of pregnancy: associations with partner violence and other factors in a national cohort of young Australian women’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 31 (2).


promotion in the catchment for 20092012, WHW has volunteered to take the lead. We plan to map the health promotion and direct services in the catchment, analyse how these activities fit with current sexual and reproductive health needs, and plan work that will bring service providers toward a more coordinated approach. We hope that this work will not only improve sexual and reproductive health efforts in the western region, but also act as a model for other parts of Victoria. At this stage only one other primary care partnership in the state (Bendigo-Loddon) has nominated sexual and reproductive health as a priority area for 2006-2009. We hope that our work, in conjunction with work from peak bodies in the area of sexual and reproductive health, catches the attention of policy makers and continues positive steps towards coordinated strategies that will ultimately improve women’s health and wellbeing.

Australia needs a comprehensive and evidence-based national sexual and reproductive health strategy. This call to action urges the Australian Government to take immediate steps to develop, fund and implement such a strategy to improve the health of all in our community, both women and men. To find out more check or www.

sexual & reproductive health edition


whw news edition 3 • 2009

Excerpt from sexual & reproductive health edition

REtroSPECT: 21 Years of Women’

SEXUAL HEALTH INFORMATION In the early days, it was much harder to find resources about women’s health, so much of our work involved information provision to women in the community



WORKSHOPS Regular information sessions for all women as well as specialist training for other workers


2001 - 2007



Distributed women’s health information kits to local hairdressers to get information out to women

Our phone service was staffed by a nurse/ midwife who answered health questions and provided referral

Women learning fro

1993 - 2002


Women with disab



One of many sma

1988 - 2007 LIBRARY

Sexual and Repr

Our collection of health information was initially a very popular resource for local women

Throughout their history, the health related pro women, as a consumer group, knowledge and - From the original tender document, 1987

Knowledge is power; this principle underpins Women’s Health gives us power to make informed choices about our lives. Righ part of our work. We recognise that knowledge is not enough in reproductive health. Our approach to working with women has sessions and instead try to work with people who have little oth term projects that create lasting change in the community. The are not an exhaustive list.

WOMEN’S GROUPS Working long-term to provide health information, social connection and new skills

1991 - 1996

2000 - 2006



A partnership with services in Altona to support isolated women


Working with newly arrived women

1991 - ONGOING

Partnering with local organisations to reach target communities

SUNRISE GROUPS Health and recreation support group for women with a disability





Working with local groups to confront the barriers that often prevent Indigenous women from accessing health care

Working with a group of Bosnian women to build their capacity to develop health promotion activities

2003 GO GIRLS! First lesbian health forum held in the west

whw news edition 3 • 2009


’s Health in the West of Melbourne


om their peers

1996 - 2002


bilities learning about cervical cancer



Women with disabilities sharing information about breast health

sexual & reproductive health edition

WORKING WITH OUR TARGET GROUPS TO PRODUCE RESOURCES THAT SUIT THEM 1999 TALKING HEALTH Audio tapes for newly-arrived refugees recorded in Bosnian, Somali and Arabic

all programs for local communities


roductive Health

ATING PAG-USAPAN ANG SEKS [LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX] Booklet in Filipino on sexual health and contraception, in the culturallyappropriate form of cartoons

ofessions and arising systems have denied d therefore control, of their own bodies.


West’s work. Information about our health, rights and options ht from the start, sexual and reproductive health was a huge n itself, that many factors impact on women’s sexual and s changed over time. We no longer run one-off education her opportunity to access information. This results in longere projects outlined give a sample of our work in this area, but

1997 - ONGOING




2007 - ONGOING



Workshops for young people with an intellectual disability

A whole of school approach to work with young people

2001 - 2006

2002 - ONGOING



Providing young women in secure welfare with sexual and reproductive health information in tandem with an arts program facilitated by Somebody’s Daughter Theatre

Health promotion work to prevent FGM and increase the quality of care and access to sexual and reproductive health services for women from communities affected by FGM

2001- 2008

2000 AND 2009



Worked with Western Health to provide an antenatal clinic for African women

Healthy relationship information for newly arrived refugee and migrant young people


An extensive resource manual for health workers who provide pregnancy care and information to African women.

whw news edition 3 • 2009

Girls Talk,

Guys Talk

Where Are They Now? Lucy Forwood, Health Promotion Worker


he Women’s Health West Girls Talk – Guys Talk health promoting schools project involves working with one school at a time for approximately one year. Student groups are set up to assist with the direction of the project and most students in the group are fourteen years old. Prior to my departure from the first school (Laverton P-12), the student group was bursting with energy, and intent on continuing the work without me. I arranged for the Stride Foundation to train group members in student mentoring. I also introduced the group to a youth worker from Hobsons Bay Youth Services to maintain group facilitation and to support them in their roles as mentors to younger students. The last time I met with the group was in November 2008 to help them prepare for a talk at the Women’s Health West annual general meeting. Their presentation was hugely successful and enjoyed by all, including the students. In September 2009 some of the students invited me to return to the school to assist them in a project they were working on. Most are sixteen now and when I walked into our old meeting room I was amazed by how much they had grown. When they opened their mouths to tell me about their work, I was completely bowled over by how much they had matured. They were so articulate and confident. Much to my delight they have continued to seize opportunities for improvement, for themselves as well as for other young people. Recently their activities have included organising a major community event, organising a ‘safe

whw news edition 3 • 2009

party’ and running information sessions for the Year 5-7 students. To say I was impressed is an understatement! In July 2009 the group approached the Laverton Youth Foundations Victoria with an idea for a project based on a need they had identified in the community. Many young people are not aware of the physical, social and emotional risks they expose themselves to through unsafe behaviour at parties. With support from the school nurse the group were successful in obtaining a grant of $8500 from Youth Foundations. The aim of their project was to educate young people and the community on how to organise and participate in a safe party. The role of the group has been to manage, develop and plan the events, then facilitate the events. On 29 October 2009 the group held a Play Safe and Party Safe Community Forum at the Laverton Community Centre. The format and objectives for the forum were planned by the students. Guest speakers included Adolescent Psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, myself (Lucy), Scott Sutton, Victoria Police Youth Liaison Officer, and a staff member from the Action Centre. Young people, parents, teachers and community members discussed tips on how to have a safe party and prevent risky behaviours such as abuse of alcohol/drugs and unsafe sexual activity. The group organised a safe party for Year 10-12 students on 6 November aimed at bringing together information presented at the forum and highlighting how young people can have a good time without alcohol or drugs. They also


sexual & reproductive health edition

Photographer Joy Free

presented personal safety information sessions and organised a disco for Year 5-7 students at Laverton P-12. The funded project includes making a documentary film to show the students’ journey and provide an online education resource tool for young people and parents on running a safe party. According to Fiona Williams, the facilitator of Laverton Youth Foundations Victoria: ‘They [group members participating in the project] are committed to providing positive outcomes for young people and are keen to improve the image of Laverton and its young people... They have great ideas in terms of what is important to talk about with young people, ways to improve the health and wellbeing of young people and what is fun and informative for them’. The Girls Talk – Guys Talk group members have had opportunities and experience in mentoring, team work, performance, event management, classroom presentations, public speaking, project management, engagement with a number of community leaders and services, media interviews, being filmed for the documentary, marketing and promotion. Since beginning this project in 2007, I’ve witnessed the growth and enthusiasm of these amazing students. Some have come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have faced huge obstacles. I am utterly humbled that they appreciate how the Girls Talk - Guys Talk program gave them the leg up they needed to become the fantastic leaders and role models that they are today.

Working with African Mothers The Maternal and Child Health Nurse Experience

sexual & reproductive health edition

Reem Omarit, Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program Worker


n 6 August 2009, Women’s Health West Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program (FARREP) delivered the first of two professional development training sessions to over twenty maternal and child health nurses (MCHN) working in Wyndham. The training was held at the Wyndham Civic Centre. The focus of this training was to give participants an overview about female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that involves the ‘partial or total removal of the female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’ (WHO 2008). FGM is prevalent in some African communities and is performed on girls and women for cultural reasons.

- Pauline Petschel, Maternal and Child Health, Team Development Nurse Training sessions will be delivered to MCHNs from Hobsons Bay, Melton and Moonee Valley local government areas over the coming months. As professionals working with African women and their children, MCHNs can play a vital role in promoting women’s awareness of the harmful effects of FGM so as to prevent its occurrence in women and their children.

MCHNs who attended the training provided positive feedback about the session.

The MCHN professional development sessions were developed from a Victoria University research project carried out by Reem Omarit, WHW FARREP worker, and approved by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Research Coordinating Committee. The research project explored the experience of MCHNs in the west who worked with African women affected by FGM. The insight and recommendations of MCHNs was incorporated into these professional training programs.

‘I thought it was brilliant. It was very informative and I think that the worker addressed the issue very sensitively. The presentation itself was great, there was variety in presentation and the worker spoke from a cultural perspective.’

If you are interested in hosting professional development training at your service or if you would like to know more about FARREP please contact us on 9689 9588 or visit our website at

The session included background information on FGM, its implications for women’s health (before and after childbirth) as well as cultural issues and practical aspects of cross-cultural communication. Participants actively discussed case scenarios and challenges in cross-cultural communication.


Artist: Deanna Ganyu

whw news edition 3 • 2009

Equal Pay Day Some key statistics are: • If current earning patterns continue, the average 25 year old male would earn $2.4 million over the next 40 years while the average 25 year old female would earn $1.5 million

• Women are two and half times more likely to live in poverty in their old age than men — by 2019, on average, women will have half the amount of superannuation that men have

Dr Robyn Gregory, Chief Executive Officer, WHW


omen’s Health West marked Equal Pay Day by dressing in red as a symbol of women ‘being in the red’ when it comes to pay. Equal Pay Day first occurred on 27 August 2008 as an initiative of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. The date illustrates the number of extra days many women have to work after the end of the financial year to earn the same as men. Over the last year the gender pay gap has increased by one percentage point to 17.2%. As a result, Equal Pay Day fell on 1 September 2009 – an extra 4 days compared with last year. Pay equity is important for women because any measures that improve the status of women serve to make women less susceptible to family violence and poverty, and improve health and wellbeing. WHW also sent information to members of parliament in the western region and to the media, drawing attention to the disparity in men’s and women’s pay. We called on MPs to take concrete steps to improve the gender pay gap, such as including the requirement for a pay equity audit as a condition of

whw news edition 3 • 2009

(AMP NATSEM (2009), “She works hard for the money”, Income and Wealth Report, Issue 22, p. 34 available at http:// index.jsp?vgnextoid=bdb250665a6cc 110VgnVCM1000002930410aRCRD

funding and services agreements, and providing adequate funding to the health and welfare sector, where a large number of women are employed, so that wages can reflect the true value of this work to the Australian economy. The media release resulted in three articles in local papers and the letters to MPs brought widespread interest. WHW plan to continue our focus on equal pay through advocacy. As we stated to MPs, equality is a matter of political will.

(Queensland Government (2009), “Women and Superannuation”, Focus on Women, Office for Women, Information Paper 3) available at http://www.women.

• The pay gap starts from the moment women leave university, with female graduates earning on average $2,000 p/a less than male graduates

(GradStats 2008, Table 4, available at http://www.graduatecareers.

More information about equal pay can be found on EOWA’s website at

Women earn less than men for a number of reasons: • They are far more likely to be employed part time, as casual or agency workers • They are less likely to work as managers and administrators, even in female-dominated industries • Women move in and out of the workforce because of their child-bearing and child-rearing responsibilities • Women are more likely to be employed in smaller workplaces that are less likely to be covered by awards and registered enterprise bargaining agreements • Predominantly male workplaces are more likely to offer allowances, overtime and penalty rates


Money Matters Sally Camilleri, Health Promotion Worker


t was very exciting to organise a financial literacy program with Karen women after the wonderful success of our Melton program with South Sudanese women last year. The Karen community come from Burma and have lived in camps on the border of Thailand prior to their recent arrival in Melbourne. Our steering group chose to work with Karen women in the hope that access to financial information early in their settlement could help them to avoid the kinds of difficulties others had experienced. We decided to work with Tumala, a Karen woman worker at New Hope Foundation. New Hope provided a familiar space and connections with women in the Karen community. The New Hope Foundation had planned to establish a Karen women’s group so our financial literacy program was a great way to kick-start that process. We employed Karen childcare workers, organised food that women would like and provided an interpreter. Tumala explained that women want to know about banks, about insurance and about the law. We spent the first week making sure women understood the aims of the program and asked about their experiences with money. We used this information to tailor the program to their needs. They explained, To compare Australia to back home is like water and oil. Here we have money to spend on what we need. In the camps, we didn’t have money; we didn’t have bills. We had food rations from the non-government agencies. If we want dishes like meat we have to work outside, but if we are caught outside the camp we will be arrested. Some people can work inside the camp in the schools or hospital; they get money but it is never enough.

The group also explained that they were on Centrelink benefits while living in private rental accommodation. We realised then how little money women

Photo:Tamla Benjamin

had, and that we needed to focus our efforts on ensuring they understood existing Australian financial systems and more specific things like concessions. This strategy worked well; together we found ways to save money. During the session on banking, for example, we discovered that although everyone was eligible for a basic account (without monthly fees), many women had general bank accounts with fees of up to $5.00 a month. Five bucks is a lot of money in this context! We plan to raise this with the settlement services that assist new arrivals to open their accounts. More and more women came along as the weeks progressed with a total of twenty-three women involved. One woman said, I think this program should continue. New arrivals should go through this so that they know. Even though some of us have been here for two years, we didn’t know this. There are a lot more people who need to know these things.

Thankyou to the Office of Women’s Policy for funding this project and to all of our project partners who assisted in delivering some of these sessions and the sessions that followed for Somali women. Perhaps that’s a story for next time.

Haweenka Soomaaliyeed ee xiiseynaya beecmushtarka Somali Women Interested in Business On 12 October 2009, Women’s Health West, the North West Migrant Resource Centre and the Flemington Project organised a forum at the Flemington Community Centre. Speakers from the Australian Tax Office, Centrelink and the NEISS program at Victoria University spoke to Somali women about how to establish their own business.



his year if you want to send more meaningful Christmas cards, send a Giving Card!

Giving Cards are available in packs of 10 for $3 per card. There are five great designs to choose from. Best of all, $1 from every card purchased will be passed on to a community group of your choice - if you buy Giving Cards, please consider nominating Women’s Health West as the recipient. Giving Cards are high quality, environmentally friendly, and allow plenty of room for overprinting or personal messages. You can customise your cards with logos and messages for free! (Colour printing of logos and messages is also available.) Find out more about the Giving Cards initiative at www. Thanks for your support.

Funds for WHW Lauren Eagle, Finance Manager

Women’s Health West would like to extend our thanks for the following financial contribution from July to September 2009. Donations $3,000 from Sunshine Magistrates Court Donations to WHW are tax deductible. To find out more about making a donation please call 03 9689 9588 or visit www.whwest.

whw news edition 3 • 2009

Dear Victorians

The right time to give up smoking

The right time to giv e up smoking We believe that total ban s on smoking in psychi atric wards and rehabilita supervised area, which tion units, (even in a is safe and free from sec ondary passive smoke discriminatory and inapp inhalation) are unjust, ropriate. We understand that sm oking is unhealthy, and many of us who smoke may try again when the have tried to give up and time is right for us. However we believe tha t during an active psychi atric illness is NOT the lead to further distress ‘right time’, as it may and agitation. It may als o discourage people fro psychiatric service if the m seeking help from a y know the ‘price’ is hav ing to stop smoking, lea ding to increased illness . We believe that while tob acco is legal, consumers of mental health servic right to smoke in the pla es should have the sam ce of their residence as e other Australians, even Australians in prison. Many people who experie nce mental illness are req uired against their will wards and units, unlike to stay in psychiatric patients in non-psychia tric wa rds, sometimes for month many of these consum s and years, and ers are not allowed to leave the ward freely, me cannot smoke ‘at home aning that consumers ’ or anywhere. Being forced to stop sm oking against your will is ‘cruel, inhumane and in our opinion, for peo degrading’ treatment ple already under stress, as well as being ineffectiv permanent quitting. Ma e in encouraging ny ‘well’ staff and manag ers find stopping smoki ng too difficult. We ask you go to our on line petition at http://ww to support us who are ocacy/petition.html, urging mental health ser vic es to apply for an exemptio bans and to allow smoki n on the smoking ng in a safe environment which protects the hea that people within psychi lth of non-smokers; so atric services can have the same rights as other Australians. Sincerely,

Bill Moon Information Officer Victorian Mental Illn ess Aw

areness Council

Feeling Less Isolated Evaluation of the Sunrise Women with a Disability Group Lindy Corbett Sunrise Women with a Disability Project Worker


omen’s Health West has run successful support groups for women with disabilities for many years. We currently run two Sunrise Women with Disabilities groups – one in Laverton and one in Werribee. The support groups focus on health information and fun relevant to women with disabilities and aim to improve the health and wellbeing of participants. Each year the women who attend the group identify the topics that they want to cover. In 2009 the Laverton group conducted health information sessions for participants on skill sharing and stress management and enjoyed a relaxing lunch at the Racecourse Hotel in Werribee. The program continues to

whw news edition 3 • 2009

welcome new members and has now swelled to eight regular participants! I recently undertook a more detailed evaluation with the Laverton group and formulated the questions with the assistance of the Sunrise working group who meet regularly to discuss all aspects of the program. I also conducted telephone interviews with two of the regular participants of the group. We will conduct a detailed evaluation of the Wyndhamvale Sunrise group later in the year. Both participants reported an increased sense of wellbeing and felt more connected to the community as a result of participating in the Laverton Sunrise group. They expressed general


satisfaction with the program as it is currently operating. As a result of attending the group, one participant said she feels ‘less isolated and [more] supported’ and remarked that she had learnt lots of things, ‘which I stick on my window, such as how to eat well and relax’. Women’s Health West has developed a fact sheet for people working with women with a disability; it outlines the Sunrise program model and is available from For more information about either of the Sunrise women’s groups contact Lindy Corbett on Wednesday or Friday on 9689 9588 or email

Membership form Membership is free. To apply, fill in this form and mail to Women’s Health West: 3  17–319 Barkly Street, Footscray VIC 3011 TYPE OF MEMBERSHIP


Individual Voting Member (woman who lives, works or studies in the western metro region)




 rganisational Member O (organisation in, or whose client-base includes, the region)




(Individual members only)






(This person is also eligible to attend and vote at our Annual General Meeting) POSITION

P lease send me more information about your professional development programs.

 ssociate Non-voting Member A (individual or organisation outside the region)

Cut form along dotted line and fold here. Tape end to create envelope.

note: t is the customer's responsibility to check that the artwork is correct, please check the delivery address details and the addressee details below the barcode. Contact Aust equired. Failure to adhere to correct addressing and formatting standards will result in higher customer charges or cancellation of service. note: Refer to the Reply Paid Service Guide or visit tresponsibility is the customer's to check responsibility that the artwork to check is correct, that the please artworkcheck is correct, the delivery please address check thedetails delivery andaddress the addressee details and details the below addressee the barcode. details below Contact theAustralia barcode.Post Contact if any Aust ch Please check the artwork details thoroughly. Australia Post is not responsible for any errors. equired. Failure correcttoaddressing adhere to correct and formatting addressing standards and formatting will resultstandards in higher will customer result in charges higher or customer cancellation charges of service. or cancellation of service. Refer Paid Service to the Reply GuidePaid or visit Service Guide or visit Please artworkcheck details the thoroughly. artwork Australia thoroughly. Post is not Australia responsible Post isfor not any responsible errors. for any errors. Font colour:details Black only Note: All components must be printed. Width: 110 mm X Length: 220 mm

The artwork components must not be re-scaled. Re-scaling wil problems.

t colour: Black only Font colour: Black only th: 110 mm X Length: Width: 220 110 mm mm X Length: 220 mm

Note: All componentsNote: must All be components printed. must be printed. The artwork components The must artwork notcomponents be re-scaled.must Re-scaling not be re-scaled. will create Re-scaling processingwil problems. problems.

Delivery Address: 317 -319 Barkly St FOOTSCRAY VIC 3011

Cut form along dotted line and fold here. Tape end to create envelope.

Delivery Address:Delivery Address: 317 -319 Barkly St 317 -319 Barkly St FOOTSCRAY VICFOOTSCRAY 3011 VIC 3011

Women's Health West Reply Paid 84523 FOOTSCRAY VIC 3011 Women's Health Women's West Health West Reply Paid 84523 Reply Paid 84523 FOOTSCRAY FOOTSCRAY VIC 3011 VIC 3011 17

whw news edition 3 • 2009

Featured publication

REtroSPECT: 21 years of women’s health in the west of Melbourne


The story of Women’s Health West begins, with secondwave feminism, in the 1960s and 70s. As women gathered to share their experiences, and discovered how they were shaped by sexism, health was one of the first issues they discussed. After all, in pre-feminist Australia: • • • • • •

It was illegal for Family Planning to advertise their services Women living in violence were told it was ‘just a domestic’ There were no health services for migrant or refugee women Menopause was never discussed Lesbianism was treated as unnatural Sex education was considered obscene


REtroSPECT: 21 years of women’s health in the west of Melbourne

To find out what happened next, (how a group of passionate women won a tender to start Victoria’s first regional women’s health service) and to chart our progress from then to now, come to the launch of our history book at our 21st party! 4pm Wednesday 25 November 2009 Incinerator Arts Complex 180 Holmes Road Moonee Ponds

order form

newsletter survey

Women’s Health West Publications

My favourite part of this newsletter was:

This form may be used as a Tax Invoice for GST purposes Order Form – Tax Invoice

ABN 24 036 234 159

FREE – Anti-violence poster Description


A poster designed to raise awareness of family violence services in the western region and promote the message that violence against women is completely unacceptable.

The part I liked least was:

FREE – Life Without Family Violence wallet cards Languages




















Order by mail

Information Worker Women’s Health West 317 – 319 Barkly Street FOOTSCRAY VIC 3011

Order by fax

03 9689 3861

Order by email

Order by phone

03 9689 9588


Please send payment with your order or we can invoice you. Cheques payable to: Women’s Health West

You should include more articles about:

delivery DETAILS Name:

Overall, in terms of clear language, reporting of Women’s Health West activities and projects, design, feminist analysis of current issues and interest and relevance of articles, I rate this newsletter out of ten.

Organisation: Postal Address:


Warm regards, Phone:



A range of brochures and fact sheets are available from our web site

whw news edition 3 • 2009

Your name


Your email address

EVENTS AND NOTICES International Women’s Day Monday 8 March 2010

White Ribbon Day Wednesday 25 November 2009 Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and children. The White Ribbon Foundation of Australia aims to eliminate violence against women by promoting culture-change. All funds received by the White Ribbon Foundation will support the implementation of these strategies.

World AIDS Day Tuesday 1 December 2009

This year is the 20th Anniversary of World AIDS DAY. World AIDS Day and AIDS Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, including the need for support and understanding for people living with HIV/AIDS, and the need for the development of education and prevention initiatives.

A major day of global celebration for the political and social achievements of women, the first IWD was held on 19 March 1911 when over a million European women united calling for the right of women to vote, work and hold public office. The rally was motivated by a protest held in New York in 1908 to rebel against poor working conditions and child labour. The women wore the colours of green (hope and new life), violet (dignity and self respect) and white (purity). In 1910 an international conference of women voted to hold a yearly International Women’s Day. Check for events in your area closer to the date.

A self advocacy program for ethnic people with a disability in Victoria

Not 1 More, Remembering Victims of Family Violence Friday 27 November 2009 7pm, Federation Square, Melbourne Each year in Australia, at least 60 women and 20 children will die as a result of family violence. Their stories sometimes make the news.

• Be confident about yourself and happy with your life Midsumma Festival - Melbourne’s gay and lesbian festival 17 January – 7 February 2010

Women and children who leave their abusive partners and start a new life.

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. The Midsumma Carnival will be held in the Alexander Gardens on Sunday 17 January 2010.

All affected. All preventable.

Many others are never heard. Women and children who live with physical and emotional abuse every day.

All someone’s daughter, sister, aunt, mother or friend. All loved. All our responsibility. This public event is to raise awareness about family violence and to remember all those women and children who have been killed. Family and friends are invited to join survivors, workers from the violence against women sector, the White Ribbon campaign, VicHealth, Victoria Police, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, the Australian Services Union and the Electrical Trades Union to say ‘Not 1 More’ and to demand a future free from family violence.

Pride March Sunday 7 February 2010 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 Street and Lakeside Drive.

• Meet other people with similar and different experiences • Listen to guest speakers • Develop new independence skills Diversity and Disability (DnD) supports people with a disability from an ethnic background to speak up for themselves and know their rights in society. We run this program at the Migrant Resource Centre in St Albans. Interpreters and attendant care support available on request. For support and more information call Chris at the Migrant Resource Centre North West on (03) 9367 6044 or email on


whw news edition 3 • 2009

Women’s Health West in the News

On 1 October 2009 Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland launched our YouTube video showing how to collect evidence safely if your intervention order has been breached. See page 7 for more information.

Women’s Health West 317-319 Barkly Street Footscray 3011 phone fax email

9689 9588

9689 3861


women’s health west ­– equity and justice for women in the west

WHW News (Edition 3 2009)  

This sexual and reproductive health edition, looks at the positive steps towards a national sexual and reproductive health strategy.