The McGowan Government has today released a policy designed to improve the health and wellbeing of women and girls in Western Australia.
The WA Women’s Health and Wellbeing Policy identifies four priority areas for action:
- Chronic conditions and healthy ageing;
- Health and wellbeing impacts of gender-based violence;
- Maternal, reproductive and sexual health; and
- Mental health and wellbeing.
Women’s experiences of health and wellbeing differ to that of men and are influenced by the circumstances in which they grow, live, work and age.
While women are more likely to live longer than men, they experience higher incidence and prevalence of non-fatal health problems, resulting in increased years lived with morbidities and disability.
Symptoms of heart disease for example, are less likely to be recognised and diagnosed in women, meaning it is less likely that they will receive appropriate care.
Nationally, one in six women experience physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, and one in four women has experienced emotional abuse. WA reports the second highest rate of physical or sexual violence in the country.
Women are also over-represented in specific mental health related issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, perinatal anxiety, depression and postpartum psychosis.
The policy was launched at the WA Women’s Health Conference held today at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre attended by 280 people – including representatives from the WA health sector, community and not-for-profit organisations, researchers and consumers.
The conference will provide attendees with the opportunity to consider the latest research and evidence in this field, and inform an action plan to aid in the implementation of the policy.
The WA Women’s Health and Wellbeing Policy is the culmination of extensive consultation and feedback from more than 700 individuals and organisations State-wide.
The policy builds on the WA Women’s Health Strategy 2013-2017 and aligns with the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030, the WA Men’s Health and Wellbeing Policy, released in June, and the Department of Communities’ WA Women’s Plan and 10 Year Strategy for Reducing Family and Domestic Violence in WA.
The new policy can be found at http://www.health.wa.gov.au/womenshealth
As stated by Health and Mental Health Minister Roger Cook:
“It is essential to recognise gender as a determinant of health as well as a risk factor in chronic conditions such as cancers and cardiovascular disease.
“This policy will provide direction to the WA health system and its partners on how best to deliver strategies and health services for women and girls so that they can access appropriate services which will help to optimise their ongoing health and wellbeing.
“The WA health system needs to continue to embed structures and processes which empower all health consumers to be part of the decision-making process and to manage their health care needs.”
As stated by Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk:
“The McGowan Government is determined to improve outcomes for women and girls in Western Australia, particularly those at greatest risk of poor health.
“Health is just one of the areas where women face specific challenges, so it’s important that our responses take their needs into account and connect them with appropriate services.
“The Western Australian Women’s Health and Wellbeing Policy will empower women and girls to access services that suit their circumstances, enabling them to participate fully in all aspects of their lives.”