The Women’s believes that health equity for all women is more than a vision; it is a responsibility.
We recognise that women face systemic access barriers and variable care and treatment within the health system, and we are committed to providing targeted services and programs to help overcome these obstacles.
The Women’s has historically cared for women from all walks of life, and we take pride in our efforts to respond to inequities in the community. The organisation has made a commitment to meeting the needs of our diverse community in our Strategic Plan and our Declaration. The purpose of this Equity Framework is to formalise and document the range of actions we currently undertake to reduce health inequities in our community. Additionally, the Equity Framework will provide an agenda and structure for continuous improvement and service development that will allow us to better meet the needs of our diverse population and reduce health inequities.
What are health inequities?
Health inequities are differences in health status and health outcomes between population groups that are socially produced, systematic in their unequal distribution across the population, avoidable and unfair. Health inequities are fundamentally produced, not by individual behaviour, but rather by policies, programmes and actions within sectors such as education, labour and health.
The sources of these disparities are complex and related to a range of factors, including people’s income and wealth, where they live, the work they do, where they come from, their ethnicity and gender, and other social and economic factors. These are the social determinants of health that protect or damage health in a systematic and unequal way. The unequal patterns of poor health and wellbeing (related to the social determinants) are exacerbated by inequitable access to preventative healthcare and treatment.
Addressing health inequities is not only a matter of social justice, but an issue of sustainable healthcare. In order to ensure our health system can meet the needs of our population, we must address the relatively poor health status and health outcomes of some groups within our community. That is, we must reduce health inequities.