Women’s health and wellbeing
Women and girls make up just over half of Victoria’s population. In 2011, about half of Victoria’s women and girls were under 40 years of age. Around two thirds of people over 85 are women. Over 70 per cent of Victoria’s women and girls lived in Melbourne and close to 30 per cent in rural and regional areas. About 19,315 women and girls were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Close to a third of women and girls were born overseas, including about 1,700 refugees. Refugee numbers will soon increase.
Overall, Victorian women are living longer, but with more chronic illness and more years with a disability as they age. In addition, women often have different experiences and patterns of disease throughout their lives than men.
On average, women who are particularly disadvantaged, including Aboriginal women, live shorter and less healthy lives than other women in Victoria. It is now well known that women and men can experience substantial benefits when their gender, biology and diversity are central to health service provision. This includes diversity in age, location, culture, ethnicity and refugee status, language, sexual and gender identity.
Factors that affect women’s health include access to economic, social and cultural resources, and experiences such as systemic discrimination or abuse. Women exposed to negative factors may have poorer health or unmet needs. Positive factors, such as good health care that meets women’s needs, can have health benefits. The health of Victorian women may then be optimised through universal access and targeted support for those most in need.
The Victorian Health Priorities Framework 2012-22: Metropolitan Health Plan (May 2011) includes a commitment to review existing plans for women’s health, such as the Victorian Women's Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2010-2014, as a priority for the Department of Health.
Victoria’s Maternity Services Program aims to enhance public maternity care by working towards high quality birthing services.
Victorian Women’s Health Program
The Victorian Women’s Health Program (VWHP) aims to improve the health and wellbeing of all Victorian women, with an emphasis on those most at risk. The program was developed to provide services 'by women for women' while working to improve mainstream services. The VWHP funds 12 services, including three statewide services and nine regional services.
Statewide women’s health services
The Multicultural Centre for Women's Health provides multilingual health promotion, training, research and advocacy.
The Women's Health Information Centre (WHIC) is a free confidential state-wide health service that offers information, individualized support and referral options on a wide range of women's health issues and in a range of languages.
Metropolitan women’s health agencies
- Women’s Health in the North
- Women’s Health East
- Women’s Health in the South East
- Women’s Health West
Rural and regional women’s health agencies
- Gippsland Women’s Health Service
- Women's Health Loddon Mallee (Bendigo and Ouyen)
- Women’s Health Goulburn North East
- Women’s Health Grampians
- Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West
Gender and Diversity Lens for Health and Human Services
The Gender and Diversity Lens for Health and Human Services (the Lens) is a quality improvement tool for increasing health and human service responsiveness to gender and diversity. The resource has been developed with input from a range of funded organisations, consumers and department staff, with a focus on service planning and delivery.
The Lens assists the Departments of Health and Human Services and funded specialist and mainstream services to better understand and take into account the interaction between gender, diversity and disadvantage for their clients and services.
Having a Baby in Victoria
The Having a Baby in Victoria website provides information about the types of care offered by Victoria’s maternity services through the public hospital system.
- Better Health Channel
Provides health and medical information to help individuals and their communities improve their health and wellbeing. It advises women to have regular health checks to help them stay healthy and to pick up early warning signs of disease or illness when treatment is often more effective.
- Office of Women’s Affairs
Leads whole-of-government policy, engages with women from diverse backgrounds and delivers initiatives to support women’s full economic and social participation. The Office of Women’s Affairs is located in the Department of Human Services.
- Family Planning Victoria
Provides health care, education and advocacy in sexual and reproductive health. Their website includes a section for women and young people.
- Victorian CASA Forum
CASA Forum is the peak body of the 15 Centres Against Sexual Assault, and the Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (after hours). They provide victim/survivors access to comprehensive and timely support and intervention and work towards the elimination of sexual violence.
- Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
DVRC Victoria is a statewide service that provides initial telephone support, information and referral and online information for people who have experienced family violence, and training for professionals and publications on domestic violence.
- National Women’s Health Policy
In 2010, the Australian Government released a National Women’s Health Policy. The policy aims to continue to improve the health and wellbeing of all women in Australia, especially those at greatest risk for poor health.
Policy Coordination and Projects Branch
Victorian Department of Health
Tel: 9096 7244