Executive Director’s Message: MCWH Sexual and Reproductive Health Data Report 2021

Dear MCWH partners and friends,

As a leader in the health and community sector, you will be acutely aware of the impact of discrimination and inequity in people’s lives. Even though the Australian health system has been established to provide health care to all who need it, we know that this is not the reality on the ground.

For many migrant and refugee women, the reality is that the health system can too often be inaccessible, culturally or linguistically inappropriate, and costly. Meaningful information in an accessible format and language can be difficult to come by, hindering equal access to preventative and early health and wellbeing care. Such barriers lead to an increased risk of poor health outcomes.

That is why MCWH continues to provide health education to migrant women and their communities to boost access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their health. Importantly, we started several new projects this month that will enable our professionally trained health educators to engage migrant women in conversations in their languages about COVID-19 and the vaccines that are available to them.

Several other health issues have become more pressing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, none more notable than sexual and reproductive health. In this area, we have continued to provide in-language education to women on a range of topics, including face to face when possible, on radio, live streams, and via video conference.

We have also been researching, advocating, and providing much-needed input into policy so that at a population level, migrant women’s health issues are seen, better understood, and taken into account.

In this regard, we have an exciting new piece of research to share with you, an updated Sexual and Reproductive Health Data Report 2021, and the ‘Act Now’ advocacy paper.

These new resources have been developed for the use of researchers, clinicians, community practitioners, policy makers and advocates. They bring together the available Australian research on migrant and refugee women’s sexual and reproductive health so that we can draw on the current evidence base to advance health equity across Australia.

The research shows that migrant women continue to have lower levels of access to sexual and reproductive health services and poorer health outcomes in a range of areas. The ‘Act Now’ paper provides recommendations for improvement.

The Report and ‘Act Now’ paper will be launched on 4 August via video message by the Hon. Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care, along with a facilitated panel discussion with expert speakers Dr Nisha Khot, Clinical Director of Obstetrics at Djerriwarrh Health Service, Bonney Corbin, Chair of the Australian Women’s Health Network, Andrea Creado, CEO at Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Services WA, and Michou Kadima, Community Development Worker, Australian Red Cross, Tasmania. The event will be facilitated by award-winning journalist, filmmaker and author, Santilla Chingaipe.

I’d love to see you at the launch and webinar. Registration is open at the following link: https://events.humanitix.com/act-now-to-advance-health-equity. By bringing our efforts together we will make a difference to the sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing of migrant and refugee women.
Dr Adele Murdolo 
Executive Director