Victorian women's health services
Women’s health services are organisations that focus on improving the health, wellbeing and safety of all women in Victoria, through services, programs and input to systems reform.
There are 12 women’s health services in Victoria. This includes a local service in each of the nine government regions of Victoria (five rural and four metropolitan), as well as three statewide and specialist services.
Women’s health services:
- Work with cross-sector partners, organisations, networks and the general community to identify and investigate issues that affect health outcomes for Victorian women
- Work in partnership with government, health services, businesses, schools, and many other parts of the community to develop and deliver strategies and actions to improve women’s health, particularly addressing the powerful influence of social and economic factors and inequality
- Bring women’s health issues to public attention, including providing information and advice to service providers, planners and policy makers
- Encourage and support behaviour change, recognising the impact of social and economic factors.
What is the Victorian Women’s Health Program?
Women’s health services are principally directed by the Women’s Health Program - adopted by the Victorian government in 1987. This program focuses on the individual and social determinants of health, understanding that the health of populations and of individuals is based on an interaction of social and environmental factors, as well as the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of individuals.
The Program's key principles are:
- Women's health and wellbeing is directly related to the social context in which they live their lives
- Women should have equal access to all health services
- Policy and programs should recognise the different health needs of women
- Women should be represented and able to participate equally in decision-making.
Experience, expertise and leadership in primary prevention
As women’s health services, we are committed to achieving gender equality, health and safety for all women in Victoria.
One of the leading causes of women’s ill-health and violence committed against them is their inequality relative to men – the different status between women and men due to their unequal access to power, status and resources. Evidence shows that violence against women is deeply tied to gender inequality – it is both a symptom and a cause - and it has dramatic health implications for women.
Preventing violence against women is therefore a priority for all regional and statewide women’s health services. For many years, we have successfully led and worked in partnership on strategies and initiatives to prevent this violence. We have extensive experience and insight into the theory and practice of designing and delivering strategic plans, programs and activities for prevention of violence against women. This includes building and maintaining effective community partnerships for social change.
We are particularly committed to building and improving an intersectional approach to our prevention strategies, addressing the ways that gender inequality interacts with other dynamics of power and social inequality, including discrimination and inequality on the basis of Aboriginality, disability, cultural and racial identity, sexuality, class, and religion. We value collaboration and work with a range of specialists and community organisations to ensure our work is responsive and inclusive.
We're in it for as long as it takes!
We know that our vision of equality and safety for all women amounts to nothing less than a transformation across society, within organisations and communities, and in the hearts and minds of people.
We know our vision is long-term in the making. And we know that it requires sustained leadership, investment and commitment by the whole of government and community alike. But we are committed to the journey and in mobilising others to be part of that too.
Who we are
Working together for women’s health, safety and wellbeing
Women’s Health Association of Victoria is the peak body for women’s health, safety and wellbeing. Our purpose is to advocate, influence and collaborate to improve outcomes in women’s health, the prevention of violence against women and gender equality.
Our membership includes all women’s health services across Victoria including five rural and four metropolitan women’s health services, alongside two statewide services, Women’s Health Victoria and the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health. We also represent organisations that are committed to our statement of purposes including Women with Disabilities Victoria, WIRE, Positive Women and The Royal Women’s Hospital.
We work collaboratively with our members to influence policy, reduce social inequities and promote health. This covers a range of activities, some of which include: Influencing policy, legislation, organisations and services that affect women’s health and wellbeing; coordinating and supporting evidence-informed preventative women’s health activities; building the capacity of the PVAW workforce; and coordinating and supporting a sustainable and enduring infrastructure for promoting women’s sexual and reproductive health, the prevention of violence against women and gender equality.