News and Events

What’s on @Women’s Health West in 2016

Lead on jumpYoung women’s leadership, community advocacy, human rights and carers support are some of the focus areas of our projects in 2016. Here’s a handful of programs you can get involved in this year. If you need more information please call us and email us, we’d love to help you out.


Lead On Again

Who’s it for: Culturally and linguistically diverse young women aged 16-24, studying, living or working in the western region of Melbourne
What’s it about: This free, six-day leadership program allows young women to make friends while:

  • Participating in workshops on topics including public speaking, healthy relationships, mental health, media and self confidence
  • Learning about event management and planning an exciting event for the end of the program
  • Being supported to participate in community and leadership activities in the future

Details:  18-22 January (9.30am – 4.00pm) and 25 January (11.00am – 4.00pm) 2016
Who to contact: Nirvana via email or call on 8379 9041

Young African Women’s Project

Who’s it for: Young African women who live, work or study in ‪#‎Melbswest‬!
What’s it about:  Learn about sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing, and build your confidence in leadership and advocacy.

Who to contact: Call Shukria on 03 9689 9588 for more details about joining this great project running in January


Our Community Our Rights

Who’s it for: Muslim women from the Horn of Africa living in Melbourne’s west
What is it about:  The women who participate in this project will:

  • Receive human rights-based advocacy training
  • Be supported to manage their own community advocacy projects
  • Develop skills, knowledge and connections that will assist them to take up further employment, study or volunteering opportunities
  • Be reimbursed for their time and travel. Free childminding will also be provided if needed.

Where: Somewhere central for participants (tell us what works for you)
Who to contact: Call Susan on 9689 9588 or send an email


Sunrise Women’s Group

Who’s it for: Women of all ages living with a disability and/or mental illness
What is it about: It’s a fortnightly social and supportive get together to help women feel connected

We also have a new Sunrise Women Carers Group in Melton, open to women who care for someone with a disability, mental illness and/or chronic health condition.

Where: Laverton, Melton, Sunshine and Wyndham
Who to contact: call Lauren on 9689 9588 or send her an email.

It’s not something that will slowly fix itself

Mark Williams_blog

By Mark Williams, 16 Days Activist

Initially I thought I’d do the 16 Days Activist Challenge to help out a friend. She is working on the challenge and she does such good work, so I like to support her wherever I can.

Then after reading some information on the net and actually doing different parts of the challenge that have come up so far, I’ve found that it’s not just an issue perpetrated by a handful of people. It’s a much bigger issue than I imagined. It truly is something that needs more attention, and most definitely needs more men to take responsibility for the issue.

Now, I believe that I really am taking the challenge to positively improve the lives of people around me, and to help myself to be able to raise a child who will embrace the same positive values. I also believe it is important to work together to help lessen and, in a perfect world, eradicate violence against women. As most of these crimes happen behind closed doors, I imagine people believe it doesn’t happen as often as it does.

Until men are taught that violence is never an acceptable way to deal with any issue, we are not going to solve our problem. Having more people speak out and take action against men’s violence against women, this will hopefully bring increased awareness to the issue and, I hope, give people the strength and courage to stand up for themselves and others when violence happens.

As a man who works in a predominantly male organisation, I feel I have an obligation to talk to the people I work with about the issue.

For Action 5 of the 16 Days Activist Challenge, I’ve read a bit about the Bechdel test and had the guys I work with look at some movies to see how bad it is for women in the film industry. I think that was a good one to start with, as most people like watching movies and it’s a relatively easy one to get other people involved in. I have used the Bechdel test to get the conversation going a few times and then often led the chat into gender equality.

I’m mainly hoping to get people to start thinking about where our issues are coming from, and not just thinking that it is something that will slowly fix itself.


The Preventing Violence Together (PVT) partnership’s 16 Days Activist Challenge runs from 25 November to 10 December 2015.

JOIN Mark as a #16DaysActivist, it’s not to late to take the challenge!
SHARE your #16DaysActivist – send to info@whwest.org.au

Because it’s not acceptable

Final Pic

By Lucy Padula, 16 Days Activist

I am doing the 16 Days Activist Challenge because it is an absolute necessity and it is something we should be unconsciously doing 365 days a year. According to VicHealth, family violence is the leading preventable contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15–44, being responsible for more of the disease burden than many well-known risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.

This is not acceptable

Although talking about violence against women is important, talk alone will not change this. There is so much in the media about family violence, but little about services available to assist women and children. It is for this reason, and the upcoming UN-declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women, that I have decided to run two events to raise funds for Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, as part of my #16DaysActivist Challenge. I invite one and all to come along.


The theme of these events is “Empower Me”:

1. “Empower Me information session day” Friday 27 November
2. “Empower Me Family Fun Day” on 29 November 2015

I believe that knowledge is power. At the Empower Me Information Session Day there will be numerous speakers, including myself running 30 minute presentations about various matters including: – practical steps to take if you are separating, preparing for family dispute resolution (to discuss care arrangements for children), family violence and intervention orders, Xero for small business, dealing with anxiety and the path to financial independence. The fee for each session will be $20 with all profits going to Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre.

The Empower Me Family Fun Day is about bringing the community together in saying no to violence. It is about raising funds and awareness for Safe Steps. The more awareness that is raised, the more likely it is that a woman and child’s life could change for the better becoming aware of services available to help them. There will be lots of fun activities for the children on the day including dance class, play based learning, art classes, fairy floss among other things

As Malcolm X stated, ‘when “i” is replaced with “we” even illness becomes wellness’. Change can happen, but WE must ALL raise our voices AND act. Talking alone is not enough. Do something. Get involved. Come along to the Empower Me Information Session and learn something, and refer the day to someone who may benefit from it. Show your support at the Empower Me Family Fun Day.


There’s a few ways you can get involved:

  1. Go to the Empower Me events
  2. Check out her Empower Me Facebook page
  3. Find out more and register for events at her website


The Preventing Violence Together (PVT) partnership’s 16 Days Activist Challenge runs from 25 November to 10 December 2015. Take the challenge and be a part of the #16DaysActivist conversation

Lucy Padula is an accredited family lawyer based in Melbourne’s west.

Push to criminalise ‘revenge porn’

By Emma Weaver, Health Promotion Worker – Policy and Development


Women’s Health West congratulate the Australian Labor Party on their commitment to improving the response to ‘revenge porn’ across Australia, via the legislative reform proposed in their Crime Code Amendment Bill for 2015.

‘Revenge porn’ occurs when a person distributes sexually explicit images and/or videos without the consent of the individual in the footage. It is a form of violence against women. It is also a gendered phenomenon. Revenge porn objectifies women (and in some instances men) as sexual objects that exist for men’s desires and needs, and perpetuates gendered stereotypes and negative social norms that position women and girls, and images of their bodies, as the property of men.

Victorian research has shown that women and girls are particularly vulnerable to revenge porn. The gender-based power inequities that exist between men and women have an impact on a woman’s ability to negotiate and make decisions about her sexual practices, such as participating in sexting behaviour and sharing private sexual images online. Research has also shown that young women and girls are increasingly expected to engage in ‘sexting’ or sharing sexual images via mobile devices. This behaviour is portrayed as a normal part of sexual behaviour and relationships among young people.

Recognising the gendered expectation of sexting and revenge porn, and how this phenomenon disproportionately affects the health and wellbeing of women and girls, Women’s Health West supported the amendment to this bill to criminalise the distribution of such material without consent. We encouraged the government to take a human rights approach, recognising the rights of an individual to be free from mental, emotional and physical violence, the right to privacy and the right to bodily integrity. In tandem with law reform, we also supported preventing revenge porn by giving young women and men opportunities to learn about respectful, gender-equitable relationships.

The amendment bill has been introduced into parliament, but at this stage the Turnbull Government has given no indication as to whether it will support the bill. It has, however, been backed by several MPs, including Karen McNamara.

To find out more about ‘revenge porn’, you might like to read these articles from The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/news/revenge-porn/

Sisters Day Out at Deer Park

By Ngahina Waretini, Sexual Health and Reproductive Health Promotion Worker

sisters day out

Last week, on Tuesday 6 October, over 100 Aboriginal women attended the 98th Sisters Day Out event hosted by Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service Victoria (FVPLS) in Deer Park.

Ngahina Waretini, Health Promotion Worker in Sexual Health and Reproductive Health at Women’s Health West, and Maureen Smith, Western Family Violence Regional Integration Coordinator for the Western Integrated Family Violence Committee, were invited along. This provided an opportunity to distribute sexual health education resources, promote related services and programs of Women’s Health West and meet women attending the Sisters Day Out.

Sisters Day Out is a one-day community event for Aboriginal women, focused on starting conversations about family violence and supporting Aboriginal women and families to overcome barriers to reporting violence and accessing support services. These events provide a culturally welcoming and culturally safe space for Aboriginal women to come together.

On the day, both Maureen and Ngahina were interviewed by ‘Women on the Line’ community radio show about the importance of the Sisters Day Out workshops. The full podcast is available via 3CR.

The Sisters Day Out workshop program began in 2007 and has reached over 7,000 Aboriginal women in Victoria to date. These informative events answer an urgent need: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence, and 10 times more likely to be killed as a result of violent assault. Aboriginal women are also the fastest growing group in Australia’s prison populations, and there’s a strong connection between the high levels of family violence experienced and criminalisation and incarceration rates.

Unfortunately FVPLS Victoria has not secured ongoing funding for this essential preventative program. FVPLS is currently crowd sourcing funding to save Sisters Day Out workshops.

Ngahina and Maureen and their stall at the Sisters Day Out in Deer Park last week.