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News and Events

Sexting: New laws needed to combat violence against women

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.

Like 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 appropriateness of current laws that can be applied to the practice.

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Grant success for respectful relationships!

WHW was successful in our funding application to Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) for a three-year respectful relationships education program with young people.

This is great news, especially because it allows us to strengthen and broaden our prevention of violence against women work in the region.

Project snapshot

Me, You and Us is a multi-faceted program that uses a peer education model to train and support forty-eight young women (18 to 24 years) to become ‘youth ambassadors’ in the primary prevention of violence against women through the delivery of respectful relationships education in youth organisations and to senior primary school students in the western metropolitan region of Melbourne.

Safer at Home

Women who have experienced family violence should be able to stay in their home if it’s safe to do so and have the violent person leave. Women’s Health West have a new site that shows ways to make your home and your family safer: www.safeathome.com.au

We also have posters and safety planning booklets, contact us to order yours!

Help us change the perception that women must leave their homes after violence and risk the disruption moving can cause including disconnection from employment, community, school, friends, family and other support networks, leading to a cycle of homelessness and intergenerational disadvantage.

Sexual and reproductive health forum

Twenty-two service providers came to the planning workshop for sexual and reproductive health in the western region in October 2011.

The western region sexual and reproductive health working group will use the information generated to inform a regional action plan designed to redress the social determinants of poor sexual and reproductive health.

You can familiarise yourself with the background documents here and watch this space for the completed action plan – coming soon!

Five steps to a feminist audit

Women’s Health West (WHW) has developed an audit tool to measure whether we conform to the feminist theories, practices and behaviours that guide our work.

Step 1: Define your feminism

Hold workshops to investigate whether staff have a shared understanding of what it is to be a ‘feminist organisation’. We defined feminism as,

a theoretical analysis of patriarchy, power and gendered structural inequities, as well as a political movement that raises awareness of, and works to challenge and change, structures and systems that oppress women – with the ultimate goal being a just and equitable society for all.

Step 2: Review other definitions

Review the literature on feminist understandings of theory, behaviour and practice. We focussed our review:

  • At an organisational level
  • In our work with clients and community
  • As managers
  • Within teams, and
  • In relation to our individual responsibility for building a strong feminist culture at WHW

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