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As Australia’s first specialist public hospital for women and newborns, the Women’s holds a distinctive role in the healthcare system. We are proud of our history of leadership and advocacy on a range of sensitive, complex and challenging women’s health issues, and we are committed to using the social model of health to promote positive health outcomes for women and newborns.

Our advocacy activities aim to address health disadvantage through funding, policy, and system reform.

We aim to achieve this by working productively with governments, policy makers, leaders, funders and the broader community, and by challenging social norms and attitudes that reinforce women’s poor health outcomes.

We advocate by:

  • conducting evidence-based research into women’s and newborn health 
  • promoting new services and models of care
  • seeking funding and grants 
  • producing submissions and reports 
  • raising public awareness, and
  • building system capacity across the state.

Our staff are committed to a woman’s right to optimal health. Every day, they advocate on behalf of patients, consumers and families to ensure equity of access to high quality and safe care.

Advocacy Plan - four areas of strategic focus

Strategic direction 1: Promote gender equality within a health context

The Women’s recognises that sex and gender affects a person’s health and healthcare, and is committed to promoting gender equity.

This includes:

  • advocating for greater representation of women in leadership and STEM;
  • advancing gender equity within Victorian health services, in governance settings, policy development, workforce, service design and delivery, and
  • taking an intersectional approach to gender equity. It includes advocating for gender sensitive health services and sex and gender equity in medical research.

We are also committed to promoting and improving the responses of health services to violence against women as a gendered health issue.

Strategic direction 2: Promote health equity for vulnerable women and their children

The Women’s is working hard to provide healthcare that addresses and removes structural barriers and discriminatory practices that impact health outcomes for women and newborns experiencing disadvantage. We acknowledge there is much work for us to do in this area.

We recognise some groups of women are healthier than others, not because of personal choice, but because of social, economic and environmental circumstances over the course of their lives, including structural, funding and health system barriers that prevent or make it difficult to access care.

We prioritise our systems advocacy to acknowledge the social determinants of health, redress disadvantage and discrimination that affects women’s health; and increase access for women to high quality, inclusive and culturally safe public healthcare.

We are focused on improving health outcomes for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
  • women with lived experience of disability and
  • women who are vulnerable or at-risk.

We are concerned about the issue of short-term fixed funding for critical health services and programs, which can de-stabilise services and amplify existing inequities.

Strategic direction 3: Advance complex and critical areas of women’s health

There remain a number of stigmatised areas of women’s reproductive health where barriers and service gaps affect women’s capacity to access responsive and comprehensive healthcare. This is particularly true for areas such as women’s choice and ability to exercise their reproductive rights and safe and timely access to contraception and abortion services.

We advocate to improve knowledge and increase public awareness and understanding and for improved resources and access to:

  • contraception
  • abortion services
  • public fertility services.

We also advocate for improved treatment and outcomes for people with:

  • endometriosis
  • menstrual issues 
  • persistent pelvic pain
  • menopause.

We advocate for support and education on fertility awareness as well as increased access to affordable fertility services including fertility preservation, infertility prevention, detection and management.

Strategic direction 4: Promote investment in our workforce, services and infrastructure

Ensuring the Women’s has a highly skilled, trained and diverse neonatal and women’s health workforce and the infrastructure and capital resources to meet current and future service demand, and provide safe and effective care, is a critical priority for us.

We also seek to improve opportunities for investment in women’s health services across the whole health system.

We direct our advocacy to government, funders, our precinct partners and the wider health sector to increase Victoria’s workforce capacity to better meet the needs of the state’s women and babies.

We prioritise making our physical environment culturally safe, inclusive and accessible for our patients and workforce, and ensure spaces are developed and designed with a gendered lens.

Advocacy priorities

The priorities outlined below form part of the Women's Strategic Plan 2022-2025.

Our Vision

Creating healthier futures for women and babies

Strategic Priority

We lead and partner to influence change

• Strengthen our leadership role and collaborations to effect positive change for women and newborns.

• We will courageously lead advocacy informed by the voices of women.

• Accelerate our role as experts and translate research, knowledge and evidence to inform everything we do.

• Grow our funding base through philanthropy and partnerships to amplify our impact.

Advocacy priorities 

Promote gender equity within a health context

Goal 1: Prevent and respond to violence against women and sexual assault

Goal 2: Improve sex and gender equity in research

Goal 3: Eliminate short-term funding arrangements for critical programs

Goal 4: Expand gender sensitive and inclusive services for women

Promote health equity and address structural barriers

Goal 1: Culturally safe care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Goal 2: Accessible, inclusive and disability aware care

Goal 3: Develop research capacity in the social model of health

Goal 4: Expand programs in our social model of health division

Normalise and de-stigmatise women's reproductive health

Goal 1: Increase access to abortion and contraceptive care

Goal 2: Increase access to infertility support and treatment, and grow public fertility care services in Victoria

Investment in our workforce, services and infrastructure 

Goal 1: Address demand and capacity through our physical spaces

Goal 2: Create culturally safe, accessible and welcoming physical environments

Goal 3: Attract and retain the best people

To dowload the above: The Women's advocacy priorities

Position Statements and Submissions

Position Statement

The Women’s Position Statement: Abortion

Submissions made by the Women's - to Parliament Inquiries and Royal Commissions

Senate Community Affairs References Committee: Inquiry into universal access to reproductive healthcare (2022)

Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System (2019)

Royal Commission into Family Violence (2015)

Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee: Inquiry into Domestic Violence in Australia (2014, joint submission with Inner Melbourne Community Legal)

Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry (2011)