News and Events


To evaluate Action for Equity: A sexual and reproductive health plan for Melbourne’s West 2013-2017 

Women’s Health West is seeking a post-graduate student to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework for Action for Equity: A Sexual and Reproductive Health Plan for Melbourne’s West 2013-2017.

We require a student with an interest and some (academic or work) experience in the study and evaluation design in the areas of partnerships, governance, health, health promotion and/or sexual and reproductive health. An interest in the use of network mapping, network and social network analysis in evaluating community, health or government projects is also desirable.

The successful student will gain valuable industry work experience with community, health and government sectors who are committed to action on the social determinants of sexual and reproductive health.

Who are we and what is Action for Equity?

Women’s Health West is the women’s health service for the western metropolitan region of Melbourne.

Our health promotion team leads the implementation of Action for Equity. Action for Equity is a four year sexual and reproductive health promotion plan for Melbourne’s west that incorporates primary prevention initiatives that work to redress the social determinants of sexual and reproductive health in order to achieve health equity.

The plan integrates long-term strategies across a range of settings and sectors to generate and maintain the social and cultural change needed to achieve optimal sexual and reproductive health via strengthened regional partnerships, sharing of resources and knowledge and a common planning framework.

What do we want to know from an evaluation of Action for Equity?

• How effective has the Action for Equity health promotion plan been as a mechanism for furthering the plan’s sexual and reproductive health goal and objectives?

• Has a regional sexual and reproductive health promotion plan increased service and program integration and coordination across Melbourne’s west?

• Has the regional, partnership approach worked well to increase the sexual and reproductive health outcomes of people in the western region of Melbourne?

Key evaluation literature to inform the Action for Equity evaluation

• ‘Partnership evaluation should assess how a partnership fits in the broader political and institutional environment – and its links to power and other strategic decision-makers outside the partnership [via] analysing network structures’

• ‘Partnerships undertake activities that go beyond what can be achieved by their composite organisations alone…each structure, each organisation (or individual) is “only one small piece of the total picture” and broad social goals will only be met by the joining together to create new policy solutions’

• ‘Examining connections (ties) between people, through the use of network mapping provides information on the connections between people, in relations to various purposes (structure)’ (Pope and Lewis 2008).

If you are interested in this opportunity please email a two page proposal outlining how you would evaluate Action for Equity to Trish Hayes: trishh@whwest.org.au and Elly Taylor elly@whwest.org.au by Friday 28 February 2014. For further information please call Trish or Elly on 9689 9588.

Key references

International Women’s Day 2014 – Update

IWD_Breani-3Unfortunately Women’s Health West has had to postpone the International Women’s Day fundraising screening of I AM A GIRL as a result of multiple factors beyond our control.

We are committed to screening the film at some point this year so please watch this space.

We encourage you to support the performance portion of the day which showcases a diverse range of incredibly talented local young women.

7 March 2014
4.30pm – 6.30pm
performances and light supper provided
Visy Cares Hub, 80b Harvester Road, SUNSHINE VIC

Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Please contact veronica@whwest.org.au or phone 9689 9588

Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review

Share your story with Women’s Health West

The Australian Human Rights Commission is conducting a national review on the prevalence, nature, and consequences of discrimination relating to pregnancy at work and on return to work after parental leave. Women’s Health West know that women are often demoted, forced to resign or receive unfavourable treatment when they become pregnant or when they return to work from parental leave.

Have you had one of the following experiences at work and felt that it was related to your pregnancy or childcare responsibilities:

  • Fired from your job/made redundant
  • Asked to resign
  • Work hours were cut
  • Roles and responsibilities at work were changes without consultation
  • Demoted/transferred to casual work
  • Bullied/received negative comments
  • Missed out on an opportunity for promotion or training
  • Refused request for flexible/part-time work

We are writing a response to the national review and would like to include your stories. We hope to capture the diverse experiences and stories of women in Melbourne’s west, and to make informed recommendations for policy and law reform in Australia. Your contribution to this process through sharing your story in response to one or more of the following questions would be greatly appreciated.

  • What kinds of challenges did you face in the workplace during pregnancy, while on parental leave, and upon returning to work after parental leave?
  • Have you experienced any specific challenges or types of discrimination in the workplace as a birth parent or non-birth parent in a same-sex relationship?
  • What support was available to you in your workplace or externally that helped you to respond to these challenges? What were the gaps in support and options available to take action on discrimination?
  • Did you find support systems responding to pregnancy-related discrimination culturally appropriate?
  • How would you change Australian laws, policy, programs or support systems to improve the experiences in the workplace during pregnancy, while on parental leave, and upon returning to work after parental leave?
  • Is there anything else that you would like to share?

As the submission will be publicly available, please note whether Women’s Health West is able to publish your story or an excerpt of it in the submission, and take care not to include any details that reveal your identity or those of your current or past employer.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, the deadline for submission of stories has passed. Please read the resulting submission here.


If have experienced discrimination and need to make a complaint against your employer, please contact the Australian Human Rights Commission directly at:

Women in Leadership and Gender Equality

By Helen Makregiorgos, Women’s Health Promotion Manager and Kate Hauser, Health Promotion Worker

On 26 June 2013 the first female Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, lost her leadership of the Labor Party to Kevin Rudd. In her final speech as Prime Minister, Gillard stated, ‘What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that and I’m proud of that’. In order for this to be the case, we still have much work to do.

While the presence of strong female leadership in our parliaments, board rooms and communities is an important step in the journey toward gender equality, we must also name and redress the gendered threats and harassment that expose persistent institutional and attitudinal resistance to change.

In her recent book, The Misogyny Factor, Anne Summers highlights a resistance to both the idea, and the reality, of women’s leadership and their equality with men. This is clear at a structural level in the gender pay gap, in the low value and insecure conditions attached to sectors marked as ‘women’s work’, and in the lack of affordable and flexible childcare. The resistance is also clear in the treatment of women who do step up and challenge traditionally male-dominated spaces.

During her time in parliament, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard has seen her body and her status as a woman targeted as grounds for debasement. Her ability to understand the needs of Australian families was questioned when Senator Bill Heffernan labelled her ‘deliberately barren’ and later when Opposition Leader Tony Abbott offered to ‘make an honest woman of her’. We can also be sure that if Gillard did have children, her ability to balance her home life with her leadership responsibilities would have been challenged. More recently, a menu for a Liberal fundraiser included the following item, ‘Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts, Huge Thighs & a Big Red Box’. The sexual nature of this menu tells young women across Australia that they live in a society where their body is a liability to their success. Though Gillard’s male counterparts were also subject to public scrutiny, it is important to note that their gender was not targeted as a source of shame. It was never suggested that they were not fit to lead because they were men.

Outside the political sphere, gender stereotypes coupled with threats of sexual violence are being used with increasing regularity to intimidate and silence women who speak out in both online and offline spaces. Attacks are usually framed as correctives; a ‘necessary tactic’ for keeping women in their gendered place. For example, UK journalist Caroline Criado-Perez experienced a flood of violent threats over Twitter after leading a local campaign to increase the representation of historic female figures on British bank notes. One tweet read, ‘Wouldn’t mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you’re ready to be put in your place’.

In 2012 feminist video blogger, Anita Sarkeesian, also faced a staggering level of abuse after calling for support to fund a project that explored the persistence of gender stereotypes in video games. In addition to countless emails and comments containing threats of rape and physical violence, trolls created an online game that prompted players to physically assault Sarkeesian.

These distinct experiences of gender inequality play a role in shaping the general attitudes, behaviours and values that create the conditions under which violence against women can flourish. As we work to redress gender inequity in our society it is critical that we do not trivialise the harassment and violent threats levelled at female leaders. This treatment sends the message that men have the right to control women and to remind them of ‘appropriate’ feminine behaviour. This message not only limits women’s active participation in public spaces, it also makes women and girls vulnerable to physical, emotional and sexual violence by men.

Women’s Health West has worked in collaboration with individuals, organisations and the community for 25 years, with a focus on redressing gender inequities faced by women in the western region. Our family violence services and health promotion programs cover a broad spectrum of interventions that work towards improving women’s health, safety, wellbeing and status in our society.

It is now widely acknowledged that violence against women is preventable and that the key determinants of violence against women include unequal power relations between men and women, adherence to rigid gender roles and stereotypes, and broader cultures of violence. As a result, WHW’s primary prevention initiatives, including leading the collaborative western region action plan for prevention of violence against women, focuses on stopping violence before it occurs by promoting gender equity. This includes building equal and respectful relationships between men and women, promoting non-violent social norms, building workplaces and communities that are safe and supportive for women and men, and improving access to resources and supports.

Similarly, our work with young women from culturally diverse backgrounds to develop leadership and advocacy skills within and outside their communities is another critical aspect of building gender equity. But it doesn’t stop with encouraging individual women to lead and speak out; our community leaders, sports champions, media and politicians are all responsible for shaping the behaviours, attitudes, values and environments that create and condone violence against women. Sadly, the experience of our first female prime minister has communicated the notion that Australia has a long way to go before women, whether in the private or public sphere, are treated with the same respect, and afforded the same rights and opportunities as men.

For more articles like this one, check out whw news

Safe sex message ignored as diseases rise

p5, Maribyrnong Leader, 8 October 2013