Department of Health

Inquiry into Women's Pain submissions

The Inquiry seeks submissions from anyone with information or interest in the Inquiry into Women's Pain.

The Inquiry into Women's Pain provides an opportunity for individuals, clinicians, and organisations to share their experiences and knowledge on women and girls’ pain, care, service and treatment in the Victorian health system. The Inquiry will report on these experiences and make recommendations that will form the basis for improved patient care.

The Victoria-wide consultation is led by Safer Care VictoriaExternal Link , the Victorian Women's Health Advisory Council and the Inquiry into Women’s Pain sub-committee. It begins on the 30 January 2024.

A final report will be produced in December 2024 and delivered to the Women's Health Advisory Council by the Inquiry into Women's Pain sub-committee.

The Department of Health invites interested individuals, clinicians, and organisations to make a written submission that will form the basis for recommendations to improve patient care.

Submissions and evidence will also help inform and shape the next stages of the Inquiry’s targeted stakeholder engagement in mid-2024.

The Inquiry’s areas of focus, context and purpose are outlined in the Call for submission document (Terms of Reference).

Making a submission

The Inquiry seeks submissions from anyone with information or interest in the Inquiry into Women’s Pain as outlined in the call for submissions document.

This includes but is not limited to Victorian girls and women from 12 years of age with living or lived experience of pain, carers, healthcare providers, health services, organisations, and researchers.

You are invited to read the Call for submissions (Terms of Reference) and make written submissions by 31 July 2024.

  • Context

    It is well established that women and men experience pain differently and respond differently to pharmacological and non-pharmacological pain interventions. Chronic pain affects a higher proportion of girls and women than men around the world; however, women are less likely to receive treatment. Research has also shown that women generally experience more recurrent pain, more severe pain, and longer lasting pain than men. Moreover, there are types of pain that impact women disproportionately, such as musculoskeletal, abdominal, head and neck pain. Persistent pelvic pain is another condition and is estimated to affect between 15 and 25% of women and is rarely spoken about. It is estimated that pelvic pain costs Australians more than $6 billion annually in direct costs.

    Women face real and enduring challenges when seeking care and support for pain. At nearly every level of healthcare, men's health claims are treated as the default. In comparison, girls and women’s claims are often viewed as a-typical, exaggerated, and even completely fabricated. Women are adversely impacted as they lose time, money, and their lives trying to navigate a healthcare system designed for and around men. Medical gender bias routinely leads to a denial of pain and therefore pain relief and associated treatment for female patients. This occurs for a range of health conditions including cardiovascular, neurological, reproductive, and autoimmune conditions.

    It is important that as a state we understand what best care is for girls and women by hearing and acknowledging what their views and experiences are and learning from exemplar clinical practice. In 2023-24, the Victorian Government committed $159.3 million as part of the Women’s Health Reform Program to change the way women’s health issues are treated and includes an inquiry into women’s pain. Established in September 2023, the Victorian Women's Health Advisory Council will provide independent expert advice to government on implementation of the program. The Council will be supported by the Inquiry into Women’s Pain Sub-Committee that will guide delivery of the Inquiry into Women’s Pain, led by Safer Care Victoria.

    Purpose

    To conduct an inquiry into women’s pain in Victoria that will provide an opportunity for the experiences of girls and women to be heard and acknowledged. The inquiry will report on these experiences and ensure that they inform the inquiry’s understanding of systemic issues and solutions that will form the basis for improved patient care.

    Scope

    The Inquiry will report on Victorian girls and women from 12 years of age with living and lived experience of pain and consider opportunities to improve access to treatment and care.

    It will:

    1. provide an opportunity for girls and women from across our community to share their experiences of pain and pain management in their own words, and for these experiences to be heard and
    2. listen to the experience of girls, women and clinicians to identify the barriers and enablers when accessing care, treatment and services for pain
    3. describe the impact of the current service delivery system on care for pain
    4. identify opportunities to improve the care, treatment and services for pain
    5. consider appropriate models of care, service delivery frameworks, workforce skill mix, and other areas requiring change.
    6. translate research and evidence-based interventions that address unwarranted sex and gender variations and improve the equity of outcomes relating to the access and efficacy of pain

    The Inquiry will explore the areas above by:

    • applying an intersectional lens when listening to, and acknowledging individual’s experiences of pain, including those living with chronic and persistent conditions, such as endometriosis, migraine, fibromyalgia, and other types of
    • consulting with clinicians, service organisations and stakeholders involved in the care, detection, diagnostics, treatment, and support of those living with pain

    This process will be facilitated through:

    • submissions from community and sector stakeholders
    • survey of girls and women with lived experience and healthcare workers
    • community consultations with girls, women, healthcare workers and key

    The Sub-Committee will deliver a final report of the Inquiry into Women’s Pain to the Victorian Women’s Health Advisory Council by December 2024. The Inquiry report will include recommendations to inform improved models of care and service delivery for Victorian girls and women experiencing pain in the future.

    The Terms of Reference was last reviewed in January 2024.

How to prepare a submission

While there is no set format for a submission, submissions should relate to the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry's scope as outlined in the call for submissions document.

You don’t need to address all focus areas, only what is relevant to you. This can be presented as a short letter or research paper.

Please note that if your submission does not address the scope of the Inquiry, it may be considered ineligible.

Where possible, please provide any relevant data, evidence and/or references that support your opinion. This could be independent research findings.

If you are making a submission on behalf on an organisation or group, please indicate who authorised it, for example, the executive committee.

Lodging your submission

You need to email your submission to paininquiry@safercare.vic.gov.au by 5pm 31 July 2024.

Your submission will include:

  • your main submission (word or PDF file)
  • the completed Inquiry into Women’s Pain submission template
  • any supporting attachments (optional)

By providing your submission, you acknowledge that you have read and understood all the information detailed in the privacy collection notice and agreed to provide your submission.

Please do not send password protected files, remove any track changes, editing marks and hidden text prior to submission. Do not include any identifying information relating to other individuals.

There is a 20 MB limit per email. If this is exceeded, we may not receive your submission.

Please contact paininquiry@safercare.vic.gov.au if you have any issues or need further assistance with lodging your submission.

Complaints

If you have a complaint about healthcare you’ve received, please direct this to the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner onlineExternal Link or by calling 1300 582 113.

If you have a concern about a health practitioner, you can direct your concern to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency onlineExternal Link or by calling 1300 419 495.

  • The Department of Health (the Department) is inviting written submissions from the Victorian community and stakeholders for the purposes of informing the Inquiry into Women’s Pain in Victoria (Inquiry). The Inquiry will provide an opportunity for the experiences of girls 12 years and over and women to be heard and acknowledged, report on these experiences and inform the Inquiry’s understanding of systemic issues and solutions that will form the basis for recommendations to improve existing models of care and healthcare service delivery for girls and women in Victoria.

    The Department is committed to protecting your privacy as part of this process. The Department will collect and handle your information in accordance with the requirements of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic), Health Records Act 2001 (Vic) and Public Records Act 1973 (Vic).

    Your submission will be kept confidential. Submissions will not be responded to individually. The Department may contact you for further details if necessary to process your submission but will only do so if you have agreed to be contacted in the Submission Form.

    The Department acknowledges the need to protect privacy of minors. Accordingly, if you are under the age of 18, the Submission Form should be completed by a parent or legal guardian.

    The submissions will be aggregated and analysed to generate summaries of key findings for the purposes of the Inquiry report and recommendations.

    You are not asked to provide identifying information in your submission. Any identifying information you do provide, such as names, health service providers, contact details, will not be shared or used in reporting. You are asked not to include any identifying information relating to other individuals.

    The Department will not attempt to link any unit-level data collected from submissions with any other unit-level data.

    De-identified and aggregated information from submissions may be shared with third-party analysts for the purposes of informing the Inquiry. Identifiable personal information will not be shared with third party analysts.

    Quotes or excerpts from responses may be used in the Inquiry public report and other materials used by the Department and other departments and agencies in the Victorian Government to support the Women's Health and Wellbeing Program

    The Department will take all reasonable steps to de‑identify any quotes or excerpts used. (Note that individual researchers, groups and organisations who expressly wish and consent to have their name appear with quotes or excerpts from their submissions used in public reports, may indicate this in the Submission Form.)

    For more information on the Department’s collection and handling of personal and health information, please refer to the department’s privacy policy.

    The Department can be contacted by emailing WomensHealth@health.vic.gov.auYou may contact the department to request access to any personal information that the department holds about you. You can also contact the Department’s Privacy Unit by emailing privacy@health.vic.gov.au or by telephone on 1300 024 759.

    Please note that once you provide your submission, you will be unable to change the information you have provided. We ask that you please read your submission carefully before submitting it.

    By providing your submission, you acknowledge that you have read and understood all the information detailed in this collection notice and agreed to provide your submission.

Reviewed 19 February 2024

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