whw news

PHOTOS Scout Kozakiewicz

Edition 3 • 2012

sexual & reproductive health edition



Check out our new strategic plan on page 18.

A word from the ceo

Dr Robyn Gregory
page 15 for details of this inspiring local project focused on violence prevention. At a state level, WHW congratulates the government on moves to give equal weight to preventing violence from happening, holding perpetrators to account, and supporting women and children who experience violence. Given our work in family violence prevention and response, WHW are clear that this multipronged approach is essential for effectively dealing with violence in the home. We also welcome the government providing an additional $16 million in response to the latest crime statistics, which showed a 23 per cent jump in reporting of family violence. See pages 5-7 for more information, along with an update from our Family Violence Services Manager, Jacky Tucker. Ruby Roo the kangaroo introduces a new friend in the Ruby files on pages 8-9. Ruby has clearly been busy getting out and about to let people know how family violence affects children. The puzzle that accompanies their adventures encourages children to find their feelings as this is the type of work Ruby and Gruffalo engage in. One of the methods that WHW uses to influence great outcomes for women and children is through engagement with local councils. Along with other women’s health services across the state, WHW contacted candidates for the local government elections to encourage them to support initiatives for

elcome to the third edition of WHW News for 2012. This edition focuses on our priority area of sexual and reproductive health. As Elly points out in the introduction, we have embarked on a number of interesting initiatives and are reaching pivotal stages in existing work so get set for a really engrossing read. WHW is fortunate to have a generous and committed board of directors with great expertise that they share with us. Two terrific examples of this are outlined on page 3, where director Samantha Merrigan reports on our work in risk management, and page 18, where Claire Culley reports on our 2012-2015 strategic plan. Similarly, I am consistently impressed with the experience and approach of our staff and our ‘behind the scenes’ section welcomes two more talented women. To emphasise these points, WHW had a director and a staff member nominated for the Sally Isaac Human Rights Award in a field of 15 nominations across the state – see page 4 for the winner! Kirsten Campbell, one of the nominees, reports on her human rights work, Our Community, Our Rights, with South Sudanese women planning an advocacy project. See


neW funding to combat fAmily violence p.6
The government has committed $16 million in response to increased demand for family violence services

Vote for women’s wellbeing p.10
Find out which local government candidates support women’s health, safety and wellbeing

SexuAl and reproductive health action plan p.14
Help us develop the first ever Victorian sexual and reproductive health action plan

Continued p.2

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

Continued from p.1
women’s health, safety and wellbeing should they be elected. See pages 10-11 for more information. We were also pleased to be able to influence the Law Reform Committee of the Parliament of Victoria, who invited WHW to provide evidence on the topic of sexting. Health promotion worker Stephanie Rich outlines our submission on page 12. Our new FARREP project, outlined on page 13, consults with young women who feel caught between two cultures and provides them with culturallysensitive information to make informed decisions. In a similar way, newly-arrived women involved in the financial literacy program described on page 16 discussed the differences between systems in the Congo and in Australia and now feel confident to make informed decisions. Finally, as Victorians struggle to deal with the death of Jill Meagher, we note that the same conditions that make women vulnerable on public streets also make us vulnerable to violence in our homes. We are heartened by the humane response to this crime and encourage our members to take part in this year’s White Ribbon Day events, including the walk against family violence, outlined on page 19. It is through these acts of solidarity that we continue our vision for equity and justice for women in the west.

SexuAl + reproductive health edition
Elly Taylor, Health Promotion Coordinator
omen’s Health West has a long-standing commitment to improving the sexual and reproductive health status of women in the west. Our work under this priority area is diverse and targets groups of women and girls disproportionately affected by sexual and reproductive ill health. WHW is developing two new sexual and reproductive health programs; a project for young African women that aims to prevent female genital mutilation or cutting, and another designed to support women with a disability to realise their sexual and reproductive rights. We have also been training practitioners to deliver Girls Talk – Guys Talk, an intensive six-term whole-school healthy relationships and sexual health program that integrates actions in a planned and coordinated way across the three Cs of each school: curriculum, community and culture. Over the past three years, WHW has led the western region sexual and reproductive health promotion partnership to develop a regional primary prevention action plan that will redress the social drivers of sexual and reproductive health. As a first step, in 2011 we developed the first sexual and reproductive health promotion framework, a conceptual

behind the sceneS
Looking at Things From a Different Place - Risk Management, Strategy and Governance
Samantha Merrigan

WHW Staff

Vicki Hester


and practical guide for evidencebased health promotion planning. The framework demonstrates that interventions are most effective when mutually reinforcing health promotion actions occur across a range of setting and sectors. In November WHW will present at the First National Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference, designed as a platform to call for the development of a national sexual and reproductive health strategy. Momentum is also building at a state level to implement an overarching policy framework for research and program development, implementation and evaluation. WHW and the Women’s Health Association of Victoria have long advocated for such a framework. In the coming year, we look forward to continuing to engage with government and other organisations in this field to advocate for federal and state sexual and reproductive health strategies that are responsive to the needs of women and girls. This sexual and reproductive health edition of whw news outlines a sample of Women’s Health West programs, projects and priorities that work toward our ultimate goal of equity and justice for women. Explicitly sexual and reproductive health-related articles are identified with this stamp:

side from my role on Women’s Health West’s board of directors I am the General Manager, Risk Safety and Sustainability at Transurban, a toll road owner and operator whose focus is on partnering with governments to deliver roads that meet community needs over the long term. In a recent presentation to the WHW Finance and Risk Committee I discussed the following intersection of risk management, strategy and governance.


board doesn’t just ask ‘what are the risks?’ More importantly we ask,

• • • •

How well are we managing the risks? How fast is our approach to risk management improving? What are the changes in our risk profile? Why? What are the emerging risks?

I have been working with women who have disabilities and mental health diagnoses for over 15 years. More recently I’ve worked as a person-centred planning consultant. The aim of that work was to help disability services move away from a ‘rescue and nurture’ model of service delivery to an ‘empowerment’ model. This model shows that people with disabilities can drive the services they receive; and that the socio-economic status of individuals is often more ‘dis-abling’ than the disability itself. Through my work I’ve met so many inspiring women and have also witnessed the impact disadvantage can have on a woman’s wellbeing. So what a pleasure it is to be involved in programs that equip women to break down barriers and be more in control of their own health. To the women in the Sunrise women’s group and the staff here at WHW – thank you for having me on board!

Where are we now? What is risk management?
Risk is defined as the effect of uncertainty on objectives. Not all risks are ‘bad’. An effective risk management framework helps us to identify risks, analyse them and determine appropriate treatments to decrease the likelihood of harm or injury, and encourage positive consequences. It provides a common language to discuss and describe risk and a consistent way of measuring it. This helps us to test our strategy, improve its execution and adapt quickly to a changing environment. WHW has a risk management framework including a procedure and a register outlining risks, the controls we already have in place and what we need to do to further treat the risks. All our employees have been trained in the process and have actively contributed to the development of the risk register and audits show that staff are aware of the risks we face and actively work to minimise those risks. How we report on and update risks has been targeted for improvement.

ISSN # 1834-7096 Editor: Nicola Harte Contributors to this edition: Anna Vu, Claire Culley, Debra Wannan, Elly Taylor, Jacky Tucker, Kirsten Campbell, Melanie Sleap, Nicola Harte, Robyn Gregory, Sally, Samantha Merrigan, Stephanie, Shukria Alewi, Stephanie Rich, Veronica Garcia, Vicki Hester Photographers: :Scout Kozakiewicz, Veronica Garcia Illustrations: Isis & Pluto Design and layout: Susan Miller, millervision@netspace.net.au 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 info@whwest.org.au 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 http://whwest.org.au/news/newsletter/ Edition 3 published: November 2012 Edition 1 deadline: 8 March 2013

What sort of risks should be considered?
WHW should be identifying all risks whether they are about the financial health of the organisation, our ability to deliver services, the safety of our employees and the women we work with, our reputation as an organisation, or the legal and regulatory environment in which we operate. Consistent risk management processes should be integrated into all our activities and business processes, so that we use one clear set of standards for all decision-making.

What’s next for risk management at WHW?
Risk management is a constantly evolving process. It is not possible to look at a risk register and give it a score out of 100. Almost as soon as you’ve produced a risk register, something changes and it needs updating. What is important is developing a culture of risk-based decision making and capturing the discussion around the identification, assessment and treatment of risk. Here at WHW we are actively embedding the risk management procedure into all our teams and improving the way risks are reported to our management team and the board. Improving the management of our risks will help ensure we are a sustainable organisation that continues to deliver quality services to the women in the region.

Melanie Sleap

What is the board’s role?
The role of the board is to ensure the risk management framework is effective and that it understands the risk profile of the organisation. The

I’m now excited to begin my new role in the health promotion, research and development team, which will combine my two great passions: young people and gender equity.

whw news edition 3 • 2012



whw news edition 3 • 2012

PHOTOS Veronica Garcia

sexual & reproductive health edition

I have worked with young people for nearly 7 years and work as a volunteer with young people in Australia and overseas, particularly with Destiny Rescue who rescue young women from sexual slavery. I have been at Women’s Health West for about two years, beginning as an after hours worker and moving to an outreach worker position, which has been a great challenge and a great joy. Meanwhile, I’m slowly undertaking a Master of Social Work at RMIT.

submiSsions + aWardS
Women’s Health West’s advocacy activities include communicating with government, community and service providers through committees, campaigns, submissions and letters. this new section summarises our most recent actions; full submissions can be found at www.whwest.org.au
Nicola Harte, Communications Coordinator

diverse ways in which innovation and excellence in public health and healthcare is achieved. WHW has submitted a nomination for Action for equity: Western region sexual and reproductive health promotion framework.

Sally Isaac Human Rights Award
Local Government Professionals and the Australian Communities Foundation Announced August 2012

Funding SuccesS!
Reducing Violence against Women and their Children Grants
Department of justice Crimes Prevention grant program Announced 16 October 2012
was the successful applicant for funds from the Department of Justice to implement United: Working Together to Prevent Violence Against Women in the West - a collaborative plan to embed sustainable, evidence-based strategies for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children within partner agencies and communities. CEO Dr Robyn Gregory welcomed the announcement and said it was a testament to both WHW’s leadership and to the commitment of agencies through their involvement in Preventing Violence Together: The Western Region Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women. “We are absolutely delighted to have been selected as the successful recipient for the Reducing Violence against Women and their Children funding. The funding will greatly expand our reach and capacity to do the kind of sustained, well-resourced, work that is required to eliminate violence against women, and we commend the government for funding this vital work.”



congratulates board director Cath Bateman who received the Sally Isaac Memorial Scholarship Fund Award. The $10,000 scholarship aims to foster and encourage future young female leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to improve community life. Cath’s achievements include running more than 30 programs with over 400 young women and starting two feminist websites. Congratulations also to our health promotion worker, Kirsten Campbell, who was short-listed in recognition of her fabulous work to prevent violence against women, race-based discrimination and economic insecurity. Kirsten was nominated by WHW and Maribyrnong Council. WHW is extremely proud to have been so well represented at the awards and thanks Local Government Professionals and the Australian Communities Foundation for providing a forum to recognise young women’s achievements and develop their potential.

Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Awards - Nomination
VicHealth Announced December 2012

StAte plan to reduce violence againSt women’
Robyn Gregory, CEO


hese awards recognise outstanding achievements and innovative contributions to health promotion in Victoria. WHW has submitted nominations for our work on sexual and reproductive health in the region and preventing violence against women.

Women’s Health West welcomes the release of Victoria’s Action Plan to Address Violence Against Women and Children

endorsed submiSsion
National definition of homelessness
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Author: DV Vic and NWR Homelessness Network

his plan correctly places equal weight on preventing violence from happening, holding perpetrators to account, and supporting women and children who experience violence. The whole-of-government commitment outlined in the plan, coupled with shared community responsibility, is essential for achieving the vision for women and children to live free from violence in Victoria. Key aspects include getting tougher on perpetrators and preventing reoffending, along with engaging organisations and communities to promote gender equity and stop violence. It is the mutually reinforcing nature of the actions outlined that will have the greatest impact. This plan clearly articulates the need to identify and concentrate resources on the most vulnerable women and children in society and the men most likely to use violence.


Violence against women is unacceptably prevalent in our community. In Victoria violence against women is the biggest contributor to ill health and premature death in women aged 15–44. Women’s health services across Victoria have a vision of communities, cultures and organisations that are non-violent, non-discriminatory, gender equitable and promote respectful relationships. At WHW we know that region-specific planning works. Rather than a onesize fits all plan for prevention, the government has recognised the need to engage organisations and communities in the development and implementation of coordinated and cohesive regional action plans. This better reflects the work done to date and so the different stages of readiness in each region. We welcome the task of supporting this work in tandem with other women’s health services in Victoria and commend the government for acknowledging

the different skills required to implement each aspect of the plan. This focus reflects recent Cambridge University research that shows ‘strong, autonomous feminist movements were the first to articulate the problem of violence against women and the key catalysts for government action’. We welcome funds allocated to prevention, intervention and response activities to date and note the government’s commitment to this plan as the foundation for a long-term vision. The announcement comes in the wake of state and federal commitment to the first stage of the national plan to reduce violence against women and children. We look forward to implementing this plan and integrating it with existing national and regional plans such as Preventing Violence Together: Western Region Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women.


Community Grants: Little Picassos
Commonwealth Bank Announced August 2012


ur children’s counsellors were successful in a funding application for a therapeutic group for children aged 5-12 who have experienced trauma after witnessing family violence or experiencing emotional, physical or sexual abuse. This regular group will support children to create art and talk to counsellors about ongoing problems at home or school.

Victorian Public Healthcare Awards Nomination
Healthcare Innovation Awards, Department of Health Announced August 2012

endorsed this submission on the draft Homelessness Bill 2012, which recommends a definition of homelessness that clearly identifies the types of housing situations and circumstances that homelessness people experience regardless of causal factors, whether they be structural, social or environmental.


he Healthcare Innovation Awards recognise the

whw news edition 3 • 2012


whw news edition 3 • 2012

Family Violence Manager’s update
jacky Tucker, family Violence Services Manager

new Funding Packages Announced
Victoria Police crime statistics released on 3 September showed a 23 per cent increase in the rate of family violence incident reports since the previous year and a 45 per cent increase in the number of charges laid.
he second edition of the Victoria Police Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence was launched in December 2010. This renewed commitment to improving police responses to family violence is partly responsible for the increase in demand. More calls to police may mean the messages are getting through: violence against women and children is unacceptable and your call will be taken seriously. However, the magnitude of the increase has a direct impact on Women’s Health West’s capacity to respond. Crisis referrals to WHW increased by 26 to the increased demand for family violence services. This will alleviate some of the immediate pressure. The funding includes $9.25 million for an additional 1,200 support packages for women and children per year over the next four years. Women’s Health West is one of five metropolitan and eight rural family violence outreach services facing similar exponential increases in demand. Across Victoria, family violence incidents rose by 10,000 last year. Domestic Violence Victoria, the peak body for family violence services in Victoria, has described the funding as a ‘down payment’ and is clear that future funding commitments are required to respond to continual increases in demand.

Focusing on children — case management
Historically women’s family violence outreach services have been funded to provide case management support to women and child protection services have focused on protecting children. This model tended to ignore the reality that assaults against children largely occur in the context of family violence, where women have limited ability to protect their children. Increasingly, children’s rights advocates stress the need for children to have individualised case management services complemented by services that strengthen women’s ability to protect their children.
of the child’s needs, mum’s role and individual service responsibilities. The worker also supported our outreach team by providing them with information and strategies on how best to support mothers and their children. For example, one child rarely attended school and the children’s case worker provided the outreach worker with information on the connections between family violence and truancy. The case worker worked with the mother and the school to contextualise this behaviour and better support the child. The pilot demonstrated the value of including a children’s case worker in a family violence outreach team. WHW hopes a percentage of the additional government funding outlined on page 6 targets children’s counselling and case management support.


per cent from the previous year. This is a combination of increased police referrals and women seeking services directly. Such a dramatic increase was difficult to manage and forced us to redirect funds away from case management to our intake service. This shift of resources toward a crisis approach impacts directly on our ability to assist women and children to navigate the complex legal and other service systems that provide security and aid healing and recovery. As a result, WHW welcomed the recent Victorian Government announcement of $16 million over four years to respond


hile WHW are not funded to provide case management support to children, we do include children within a family case plan, including work with schools, supporting children to access counselling services and liaising with child protection. However, we were keen to explore how we could enhance our focus on children. In a 6 month pilot program WHW employed a children’s case worker for 3 days a week to tackle areas of concern specific to children, including the negative consequences of family violence on the motherchild bond. While other case workers benefited from this pilot it is clear

that an ongoing specialist children’s worker would be invaluable. The children’s case worker provided intensive case management to a small group of children whose needs were multiple and complex. Most of these children had displayed behavioural problems, some had threatened or had been violent towards their mother or siblings, and nearly all had some involvement with the Victorian Child Protection Service. The case worker collaborated with WHW children’s counselling and outreach teams, child protection, family support services and local schools to develop a shared understanding

Police recidivist Strategy
Victoria Police defines recidivism as ‘events where police have recorded family violence against individuals or in locations on three occasions or more within the preceding twelve-month period’. As a result, three or more reports referring to a particular victim, perpetrator or location are described as recidivism.


Melton police recently introduced a family violence unit and its role will be to respond to recidivism. We expect other police family violence units across the region to follow their lead.

whw news edition 3 • 2012



whw news edition 3 • 2012


HW undertook a small project to explore the role of women’s services in responding to recidivism. Overseas research highlights the need to hold men accountable for their violence rather than focusing on removing victims from the violent situation. It may be easier to remove a victim than confront a perpetrator, but this approach means that victims bear the responsibility for the violence. WHW requires a minimum of one full time worker to work directly with women and collaboratively with police and men’s programs.

the ruby files

Ruby Roo the Kangaroo, Stephanie and Sally, Children’s Counsellors


How do you feel?

Ruby has a new friend called Gruffalo who likes working with children who feel grumpy and cross. Gruffalo knows that children who have gone through family violence sometimes experience strong feelings and talks to children about ways to manage tricky feelings. Ruby has been very busy trying to train Gruffalo to smile and stop being stuck in grumpy feelings.
parliament, and local councillors. She explained what we do and why we need more money for children’s counsellors. Ruby was a bit scared of talking to them, but she kept cool and remembered what the kids had taught her to do when she is worried. Ruby knew that Gruffalo was there to support her and once she started to talk about kids she forgot to be scared. Ruby also went to some training with a very clever man called Dr Bruce Perry. Dr Perry knows all about brains and how family violence changes our brain. He was funny and very relaxed

about serious topics. He told us about the magic of play, music, art and movement to help brains grow and develop. He showed us ways that we can help kids to feel calm and work things out. He also explained how important it is to have people and pets who love you. This helps kids grow up strong and healthy. Ruby wore her flash red felted jacket because she was very excited to meet Dr Perry. It is not every day that you meet a brainy brain doctor!






Ruby and Gruffalo meeting Wade Noonan, a Member of Parliament
Ruby has been really busy talking to important people about how family violence affects children. This is because we need more children’s counsellors to help Steph and Sally. Ruby has given some interesting talks using your drawings to explain what can happen when there is family violence at home. She spoke to important people from the Departments of Premier and Cabinet and Treasury and Finance, as well as some members of

question: What do these pictures have in common? HINT


Ruby high fives a kangaroo paw

whw news edition 3 • 2012

PHOTOS Stephanie

afraid angry bored cold comfortable confused cool

depressed excited happy hot hungry nervous relaxed

sad safe thirsty tired uncomfortable warm

Answer: They’re kangaroo paws! 8


whw news edition 3 • 2012

women’s health, sAfety and wellbeing
Elly Taylor, Health Promotion Coordinator and Nicola Harte, Communications Manager

campAign for locAl government action on

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Women’s health involves their emotional, social and physical wellbeing and is determined by the social, political and economic context of their lives, as well as by biology.
the United nations division for the Advancement of Women, 1995

Women have different physiological health and wellbeing needs from men. There is also a strong body of evidence that shows gender is an important social determinant of health and wellbeing. While it would appear that women and men have the same formal opportunities, the unequal status of women in our community causes many women to experience significant disadvantage, impacting on their physical, mental and social health and wellbeing.
s a result of all of these factors, women require healthcare, social support, programs, services and policies that are responsive to and respectful of their health and wellbeing needs. Some of the differences and inequities that must still be redressed include:

• • • •

• •

Women’s health services across Victoria have identified local government as having a central role to play in improving the social, economic and health status of women in their municipality – by providing local responses to service and resource needs and through working towards gender equity. As a result, the Women’s Health Association of Victoria developed Safe, Well and Connected: Victorian Local Government Action Plan for Women’s Health 2012-2016. The plan outlines key actions that newly-elected councillors can take to enhance the health and wellbeing of women in their community. It also follows a similar campaign prior to the 2008 elections, which led a number of councils in our region to prioritise women’s health, safety and wellbeing. Women’s Health West, in partnership with other women’s health services across the state, has asked candidates to commit to the plan in the lead up to the 2012 local government elections. We will then follow up with each council in our region to support this work after the elections.

As part of the plan, councillors are encouraged to ensure adequate and affordable council and communitybased childcare and playgroups. Other actions include partnering with us to develop a regional strategy to prevent violence against women. Councils are also being asked to include strategies and actions dedicated to improving women’s health and wellbeing in their municipal public health and wellbeing plans. You can check which council candidates have committed to women’s health and wellbeing across the western region on www.whwest.org.au.

One in four women will experience depression at some time in their lives Women represent nearly 90 per cent of reported rapes and 76 per cent of reported sexual assaults. It is widely acknowledged that around 80 per cent of sexual assaults go unreported For women, family violence is the leading cause of homelessness in Victoria, with women and children still largely being forced to flee the family home Women have significantly lower rates of superannuation savings than men, as well as lower median amounts - $13,400 for men compared with $6,400 for women 87 per cent of sole parent families with children under 15 years are headed by women

For Victorian women under the age of 45, violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness Only 57 per cent of women participate in the paid workforce (compared to 72 per cent of men) Women on average earn 17 per cent less than men in similar positions 71 per cent of primary carers in Australia are women

whw news edition 3 • 2012



whw news edition 3 • 2012


combat violence againSt women

Sexting: neW lAwS needed to

sexual & reproductive health edition

PHOTO Veronica Garcia

A sexual and reproductive health program for young African women
Shukria Alewi, fARREP Community Worker
suggested that these laws should only be applied to adults who produce, possess or distribute child pornography, including sexted images of minors. Because of a lack of specific legislation relating to sexting offences, attempts to prosecute also fall under laws related to surveillance, privacy, defamation and copyright. The application of these laws is grossly inadequate. In situations where sexting is non-consensual and harmful it constitutes violence against women. WHW advocated for the creation of a new technology-related sexting offence to be inserted into the Crimes Act 1958. In addition to law reform, WHW strongly recommended that further education initiatives focus on the gendered nature of the problem. It is recognised that gender relations, gender stereotypes and gendered expectations directly impact on the ability of young women to negotiate and make decisions about safe sexual practices, including sexting. We called for a primary prevention approach to these education initiatives, focusing on respectful relationships as well as risk reduction strategies. Women’s Health West received notable media coverage following our presentation to the Law Reform Committee, with an article in the Sunday Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Bendigo Advertiser, as well as an interview on 3CR. We eagerly await the launch of the Committee’s report to the Legislative Assembly on 30 December 2012.

caught betWeen tWo cultureS

sexual & reproductive health edition

Stephanie Rich, Health Promotion Worker

Women’s Health West is dedicated to women’s health, safety and wellbeing. We recognise that women’s sexual decision-making occurs within the contexts of gender-based power imbalances, gender stereotypes and social norms. This is not a new phenomenon and it is appropriate that young people explore and express their sexuality in a healthy, equitable, respectful, consensual and developmentally ‘normal’ way. What is problematic is when sexual expression - through any medium - replicates and reinforces inequitable gender power relations between men and women.
ike all sexual practices, sexting does not occur in the abstract. The sexualisation of young women in contemporary culture, media and the internet, creates a broader context within which young people engage in sexual activity and sexual decision-making, including sexting. However, the electronic and online nature of sexting means the practice presents significant new and real concerns, particularly for young people. The very nature of information and communication technologies mean that once an image has been created electronically it can very quickly and easily be transmitted, without the control or consent of the subject/participant. The consequences for young people engaging in sexting present significant health, social and legal implications. This year, the Law Reform Committee of the Parliament of Victoria sought recommendations regarding the incidence and prevalence of sexting among young people, the effectiveness of existing education and awareness initiatives, and the

Women’s Health West runs a family and reproductive rights education program (FARREP) that is designed to prevent female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and enhance service provision to women already affected by the practice. This includes community education sessions designed for mothers and pregnant women who have migrated from African countries that practice FGM/C. The sessions focus on sexual and reproductive health and other women’s health concerns.
ur consultations with young African women and agencies working with them reveal they feel caught between two cultures; that it is difficult to deal with conflicting expectations of African and Australian cultures. So we have designed a new project based on this information that targets young women aged 16 to 25 who have migrated from countries that practice FGM/C and who are now living in the western region of Melbourne. This age group has limited access to information and resources to make informed decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health. They are also less likely to know that FGM/C is a crime in Australia and may face pressure to practice FGM/C on their daughters for cultural reasons. Women of this age are particularly influenced by their parents and can experience significant community pressure to prepare for marriage in this way. It is important for them to develop confidence, independence, leadership skills and pride in their dual African / Australian identity. This supports young


appropriateness of current laws that can be applied to the practice. The Law Reform Committee defines the practice as ‘the creating, sharing or posting of sexually explicit messages or images via the internet, mobile phones or other electronic devices by people, especially young people’. The laws and educational initiatives surrounding sexting have significant implications for the safety and wellbeing of women and girls. As such, in June 2012 WHW wrote a submission in response to the inquiry and were invited to provide evidence before the committee at a public hearing. WHW stated that existing laws are both inappropriate and inadequate. Under the current law, young people engaged in any form of sexting can be charged with child pornography offences and automatically registered on the sex offenders register. WHW argued that this is an inappropriate legal response, as child pornography laws and sex offender registration are designed to monitor and control adults convicted of sexual offences against minors. We


women to think through and articulate their thoughts clearly and powerfully. As a starting point we will consult with young African women to identify their sexual and reproductive health needs. We will also consult with parents and female community leaders to ensure that the project is culturally appropriate, community friendly and that the voices of these role models are heard. Then we will work with schools and community organisations to provide the young women with leadership skills to break down gender barriers. We will also provide culturally-sensitive information to support positive and safe decisions for themselves and their daughters. This project should equip young African women with the knowledge to make important and positive sexual and reproductive health decisions for themselves and their daughters. We hope this knowledge will help to negotiate the space between both cultures.

whw news edition 3 • 2012



whw news edition 3 • 2012

Western region sexual and reproductive health strategy

why we need one
Anna Vu, Health Promotion Worker

sexual & reproductive health edition
We can see that merely educating people about safe sex is not enough to prevent sexually transmitted infections. We need to go further by addressing the cultural norms that surround safe sex as well as the gender norms that contribute to unhealthy relationships. Melissa is 16, has an intellectual disability and has just found out she is 6 months pregnant. Why didn’t she know she was pregnant earlier? No one had told her how she could get pregnant and what it felt like. Why didn’t anyone tell her? They thought she wouldn’t be interested in sex.
Why did they think that?

our community, our rights
hoPe for a neW beginning
Kirsten Campbell, Health Promotion Worker

Women’s Health West and the Western Region Sexual and Reproductive Health Partnership are developing a region-wide action plan for sexual and reproductive health. The plan is based on a mapping and needs analysis, research into the social determinants of sexual and reproductive health, and a sexual and reproductive health promotion framework. The plan will be the first in Victoria that clearly focuses on the social determinants of health.
Evidence for action: why a western region sexual and reproductive health strategy is needed
Melbourne’s western region is home to many communities that are disproportionately affected by sexual and reproductive ill health. Action is needed here because our region: a focus on changing the conditions that make certain groups more vulnerable. To do this we must tackle the social conditions that are the root causes of ill-health – the social determinants of health. The following stories help illustrate why we need to look past specific health concerns and behaviours and consider the broader context: Rebecca has been trying to get pregnant for three years and has just been told that she is infertile. Why is she infertile? She had chlamydia when she was 17. Why did she have chlamydia? She didn’t ask her boyfriend to use a condom when they had sex. Didn’t they teach her about condoms and infections in school? Yes, she knew all about it and wanted to use a condom but didn’t feel comfortable asking her boyfriend to do it. Why didn’t she feel comfortable? She had heard people say that asking your boyfriend to use a condom is a sign that you don’t trust him. Why didn’t she just explain it to him? He had yelled at her in the past when she’d tried to talk to him about contraception so she was scared that he would either hurt her or dump her.

The first phase of Our Community, Our Rights (OCOR) – comprising human rights based advocacy workshops, and project development support with South Sudanese women in the west – is complete.


articipants engaged in a sequence of seven human rights based advocacy workshops on topics including racism and discrimination, health, rights at work and in education and safety. WHW then supported them to plan their own human rights based advocacy project on a topic they identified as important to their community. As a result OCOR participants developed Hope for a New Beginning a project designed to work with the Equatorian South Sudanese community to understand the problem of violence against women and begin to identify solutions. The project group consulted extensively with community leaders to gain their support and then ran a day-long workshop on Saturday 25 August at Footscray Uniting Church. The workshop comprised three sections:

Australia, explained how to navigate the Australian legal system

Carol Ransley of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission facilitated a session on how the Victorian Charter of Human Rights works

Features two of Melbourne’s four designated ‘growth corridors’, resulting in an exponential population growth that exerts enormous pressure on service provision Reported a 64 per cent increase in chlamydia notifications between 2008 and 2011 Is home to one in four of Melbourne’s teenage parents Shows an emerging street sex trade in Footscray, which is associated with drug dependence and injecting drug use Hosts five of Victoria’s 14 prisons; this large prison population is known to have poorer sexual and reproductive health outcomes than the general population

• • •

Participants used a range of practical tools to connect strongly with the themes. One scenario vigorously discussed by participants was around difficulties in negotiating contraception within relationships, and how this often leads to violence against women. ‘It is very hard for us to talk about these issues as South Sudanese women…but I feel that a fire has been lit and these women have been very brave to talk about such things.’ Hope for a New Beginning participant ‘It [this workshop] will change people’s lives and make them feel more powerful to make change and fight for their rights.’ Hope for a New Beginning participant


The organisers of Hope for a New Beginning now want to create a DVD about violence against women that will effectively communicate with groups of South Sudanese men and women. Women’s Health West is working with other Our Community, Our Rights participants to deliver a workshop on negotiating contraception in relationships. In 2013 we will run the program with communities from Burma. For further information please contact Kirsten Campbell on kirsten@ whwest.org.au or 9689 9588.

They thought that people with an intellectual disability weren’t capable of having the same needs and wants of other people their own age. From this story we can see that in order for women with a disability to experience positive outcomes in their sexual and reproductive health, the cultural norms around how society perceives people with a disability must be redressed. If your agency would like to play a part in the development or implementation of this plan we would love to hear from you, so please contact Anna Vu: anna@whwest.org.au or 9689 9588.

Batsi and Kirsten from Women’s Health West ran a session on understanding what family violence is and how to respond to it Zita Adut Deng Ngor, Director of the Women’s Legal Service South

our response
The evidence above tells us that coordinated action on sexual and reproductive health is needed in our region, and that this action must be targeted at specific ‘atrisk’ population groups. However, research on how best to prevent ill-health shows that our response must move from a focus on poor health outcomes and awarenessraising around risky behaviours, to

whw news edition 3 • 2012



whw news edition 3 • 2012


Membership is free. To apply, fill in this form and mail to Women’s Health West: 317–319 Barkly Street, Footscray VIC 3011

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



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



(Individual members only)

‘leArning more than english’
Congolese Financial Literacy Program
Kirsten Campbell, Health Promotion Worker

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



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

‘People only learn English, but it’s important to learn about day-to-day life, like paying bills.’ Participant, Congolese FLP


n July and August 2012, Women’s Health West partnered with Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre to deliver a financial literacy program to Congolese women. The program was held at Spectrum in Sunshine, a venue familiar to Congolese women dispersed throughout the west. Over six weeks, seven women met to explore topics derived from community consultations including budgeting, bills, Centrelink, banking and mortgages. Facilitators developed an understanding of how money systems work in the Congo and the challenges associated with negotiating the way things are done in Australia. For instance, women spoke of collective or group savings systems, a method used both in the Congo and in Australia where each month every member of the group contributes a set amount (e.g. $500) the sum of which is allocated to each group member in turn. This enables women to save more and have a ‘lump sum’ to be able to purchase big items. However workers or banks have asked women why they suddenly have more money and this has had a negative impact on other parts of their life. It was useful for the participants to talk with workers from Centrelink and various banks about this problem and work on some solutions. A key part of the program involved linking women with service providers

who could help them with specific concerns. Services included Consumer Affairs, the Sheriff’s Office, Bendigo Bank, the Smith Family and WISE Employment. Women felt far more confident to access these service providers once they had met the workers in person. It was safer and more familiar than going to an impersonal institution. Many immediately made follow up appointments to eliminate communication difficulties they were likely to experience if they tried to make an appointment at a later date. Sharing lunch was important too. Each week one of the women cooked traditional Congolese food; eating together provided a great opportunity for participants to talk informally with presenters and ask lots of questions. It also meant presenters and the project workers could learn more about Congolese culture. This financial literacy program has been a rich learning experience for participants, presenters and project workers combined. We plan to run this successful program in 2012-2013 with different groups of newly arrived women according to settlement needs. Beyond that date the impact of cuts to the integrated health promotion program leave the future of this program in doubt. For more information please contact Kirsten Campbell kirsten@whwest.org.au on 9689 9588.

FundS for WhW
Debra Wannan, finance Officer
omen’s Health West would like to extend our thanks for the following financial contributions from June – September 2012. These much-appreciated grants and donations assist us to enhance our programs and services to women and children in the region. Particular thanks to Grill’d for nominating WHW as a recipient of their fundraising drive; funds were put to good use supporting a group activity for the children in our refuge.


Court ordered Lara Polak Jo Harper Grill’d Watergardens $400 $10 $10 $100

Commonwealth Bank grant for children’s counselling $1,667 Total $2,187

Donations to Women’s Health West are tax deductible. You can now make donations directly through our website at www.whwest.org.au/ donate or call 03 9689 9588 for information on other methods of payment.

whw news edition 3 • 2012



whw news edition 3 • 2012

Strategic plan 2012-2015

Claire Culley, Board Director
remained highly relevant for the new three year planning cycle. The board strategic planning sub-committee then developed draft outcome measures for staff consultation and translation into operational key performance indicators. We will use these indicators to measure the outcomes of our strategic plan over the next three years.

noticeS & reSourceS
DESIGN Isis & Pluto

Veronica Garcia, Information and Resources Worker

omen’s Health West’s previous strategic plan was developed in 2009. In 2012, staff and board members began consultations for the development of the 2012-2015 plan, with a focus on refreshing the 2009-2012 plan, redefining goals and establishing outcomes for the next three years. The aim of the process was to:

• • • • •

International Women’s Day
Friday 8 March 2013
International Women’s Day is 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, organised by the Women’s Social and Political Union, 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). For events in your area closer to the date www.women.vic.gov.au


Collaborate with key communities of interest to identify our achievements against the 2009-2012 strategic plan Consider whether the existing vision, mission and strategic goals remained current Review the environmental context in which the plan operates and incorporate any significant changes in focus since the 2009-2012 plan was developed Ensure our priorities align with current key challenges and opportunities in our region Develop clear outcome measures

7th Australian Women’s Health Conference
7 – 10 May 2013
Gender Matters: Determining Women’s Health will showcase cutting edge research and best practice approaches in women’s health policy and practice locally, across Australia and internationally. www.womenshealth2013.org.au

The 25th Midsumma Festival - Melbourne’s gay and lesbian festival
Sunday 13 january to Sunday 3 February 2013
Melbourne’s annual festival celebrating queer culture will again bring queer life to the city in 2013, opening with the Midsumma Carnival on the banks of the Yarra at Birrarung Marr on 13 January 2013.


We undertook consultation workshops with client and community groups, key communities of interest including funding bodies, academics, local govt, community health, housing and family violence services, PCPs, other partner agencies, staff and board members in the process of redeveloping the plan. The consultation workshops identified that the strategic vision, mission and goals

Sunrise Women’s Group Laverton FREE job Club (WIRE Women’s Information Centre)
• Are you a woman looking for work?

White Ribbon is the only national violence against women prevention campaign. It is unique in that it aims to raise awareness among Australian men and boys about the roles they can play to prevent violence against women. In Australia, one in three women will be assaulted or abused in her lifetime. Sixty women and twenty children are killed each year in Australia in incidents of family violence homicide with many more physically and/or emotionally abused.

Meets on the first and third Friday or every month at the Laverton Community Centre. This is a social group for isolated women who have a disability or mental health diagnosis. Sunrise is about bringing women together to: • Build friendships and support each other • Get information about how to stay healthy and safe • Try new things and have some fun • Build your confidence • Get to know your community • Find out what services are available • Work together to break down barriers For more information contact the Project Worker, Vicki Hester: 9689 9588 or Vicki@whwest.org.au

Walk Against Family Violence
Friday 23 November 2012 2.30pm - 3.00pm Melbourne Town Hall (2pm for 2.30pm start)
For more information email Gaewynne.old@ aus.salvationarmy.org

Annual General Meeting
Save this date 28 November 2012

• Looking to re-enter the workplace? • Starting work for the first time? • Need help understanding self-employment? Job Club runs free fortnightly sessions for women who are seeking work. Both group and one-on-one sessions are available with one of WIRE’s job search coaches. For more information visit www.wire.org.au/event/ job-club or call 9921 0878.

oRDER FoRM Women’s Health West Publications
This form may be used as a Tax Invoice for GST purposes Order Form – Tax Invoice ABN 24 036 234 159

My favourite part of this newsletter was:

Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland Street, Footscray 3011 4pm for a 4.30pm start
Come and join our four feisty panelists as they debate the question, is children’s health, safety and wellbeing intrinsically linked to that of women?

Not1More - Remembering family violence victims and taking the white ribbon oath
Friday 23 November 2012 3.15pm - 4.30pm Federation Square

FREE – My Safety Plan
Description This safety plan contains safety strategies for your home, work and vehicle security. It highlights strategies women can use to make different environments safe from family violence. Qty

FREE – Safe at Home (A3 Poster)
Description ‘Family violence is a crime. The law says the violent person should leave so you can stay safely in your home’. This poster promotes the new safe at home website: www.safeathome.org.au Order by mail Information Worker Women’s Health West 317 – 319 Barkly Street FOOTSCRAY VIC 3011 03 9689 3861 veronica@whwest.org.au 03 9689 9588 Please send payment with your order or we can invoice you. Cheques payable to: Women’s Health West Qty

The part I liked least was:

For more information email Not1MoreEvent@yahoo.com.au You can also visit www.not1more. com for other activities.

Web reSourceS
The internet is a quick way to find out more about health conditions, organisations and support services. Below is a list of sites containing quality information commonly used by women in the western region. You should include more articles about: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
The Better Health Channel provides health and medical information to help individuals and their communities improve their health and wellbeing. The information they provide is quality assured, reliable, up to date, and easy to understand. hospital dedicated to improving the health of all women and newborn babies.

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre (Victoria) is a statewide resource centre for information about domestic violence and sexual assault, providing training, publications, information, referrals and links.

Relationships Australia provides relationship support services for individuals, families and communities.

Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health is a women’s health organisation for all women from immigrant communities, including refugee and asylum seekers and women from emerging and established communities.

Order by fax Order by email Order by phone Payment

Women’s Health Victoria is one of three statewide women’s health promotion, information and advocacy organisations.

Love: the good, the bad and the ugly is an online guide about love, respect and abuse in relationships for young women.

Name: Organisation: Postal Address: Postcode: Phone: Email: Fax:

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 out of ten. newsletter Warm regards,

WIRE Women’s Information provides Victorian women with free and confidential support, information and referral on any issues.

Family Planning Victoria’s focus is on sexual and reproductive health care, education and advocacy.

LifeWorks Relationship Counselling and Education Services provide affordable relationship services including individual counselling, relationship counselling, family therapy, relationship education programs, family dispute resolution and mediation.

PapScreen Victoria provides information and support for women and health professionals on Pap test. PapScreen Victoria publishes resources in a variety of languages about Pap tests, HPV and cervical cancer, including brochures, information sheets and posters.

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health translate research findings into practical health approaches for women.

Your name

The Royal Women’s Hospital is Australia’s largest specialist

whw news

A range of brochures and fact sheets are available from our web site edition 3 • 2012 www.whwest.org.au

18 Your email address


whw news edition 3 • 2012

whw in the newS

Women’s Health West has featured in twenty-six media stories since the last edition of WHW news including the cover and opinion pages of the Age. Topics included funding cuts to integrated health promotion, increasing rates of family violence reporting and a lack of funds for family violence services including children’s counselling. Full stories can be found online at www.whwest. org.au/news/ media/articles

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

9689 9588

9689 3861

info@whwest.org.au www.whwest.org.au


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

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