Key issues

Advocating for migrant women's health in Australia

At MCWH, our approach to migrant and refugee women's health is:

  • migrant women led
  • evidence-based
  • holistic (recognising how the social determinants of health and inequities impact health)

Read more about our approach below

Advancing the Evidence Conference Report

In Febraury 2020 MCWH held a national conference, called Advancing the Evidence: Migrant Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health. Read our summary report and access the program here.

Go to the conference page

Submissions and Position Papers

MCWH develops submissions and position papers on key issues migrant women impacting migrant and refugee women's health in Australia and internationally.

View submissions

Recent Posts

Our approach to health advocacy

We believe that migrant women's health should be in migrant women's hands

As women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, it is our right to make autonomous decisions about our bodies and health. This should include input into and decision-making power around the policies and practices that impact our health and well-being.

We believe that migrant women's health is often misrepresented and misunderstood

Our organisation was founded on the recognition that misinformation, discrimination and stereotyping often contributes to the ways that health practitioners, policy makers and the general public perceive migrant women and issues surrounding their health and well-being. Approaches to health policy and practice relating to migrant women must be evidence-based.

Visit our Research page to learn more about the current state of evidence for migrant women's health in Australia and key research issues.

We believe that migrant women's health is socially determined

Many policies and circumstances across our lives impact on our health and well-being as migrant and refugee women. This includes broader social, economic and political conditions like housing, immigration, access to education and employment, work rights, family violence, gender inequality and the many other forms of discrimination we face.

Migrant women's health includes our physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being.

Some key issues in migrant and refugee women's health

International students' right to pregnancy-related health care

MCWH advocates for the fair treatment of international students in Australia and in particular the right of international students and their partners to access pregnancy related health services.

A study with international students in Melbourne (2011) showed that the minimum requirements of the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) Deed pose significant obstacles to female international students who fall pregnant unintentionally.

Read our Position Paper on International Student Access to Pregnancy Related Care

We conducted a research project into female international students' access to sexual and reproductive health called On Her Own. You can read more about the research findings in this journal article:

C Poljski and R Quiazon and C Tran. Ensuring Rights: Improving Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Services for Female International Students in Australia. Journal of International Students. 2014. Download PDF 137KB.

International students can face many other health related issues while living in Australia, including:

  • visa conditions that limit their access to health care
  • discrimination and unfair employment conditions
  • family/domestic violence and violence against women
  • challenges to mental health such as isolation, stress and anxiety, loss of social networks,
  • issues related to gambling, alcohol and substance abuse
  • unplanned pregnancy
  • sexually transmitted infections

If you would like to know more about our advocacy work for international students contact us.

See more posts related to international students

More support needed for informal carers

Higher stillbirth rates for many migrant women

One third of stillbirths in Australia are born to migrant women

Australian research indicates higher rates of stillbirth for migrant and refugee women.

In 2013-14, 1,531 of the 4,419 stillbirths (34.6%) that occurred in Australia were born to women born in countries other than Australia.

Some Australian state-based studies have found that some groups of migrant women are at greater risk of stillbirth include:

• Lebanese born women (Dahlen et al. 2013)
• South-Asian born women, who in one study were more than twice as likely to have a late pregnancy stillbirth (Drysdale et al. 2012)

MCWH was privileged to present testimony at the public hearing for the Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education in 2018.

Read our submission here

MCWH is proud to be a member of the Migrant and Refugee Advisory Group at the Centre for Research Excellence in Stillbirth (Stillbirth CRE).

MCWH is undertaking nationally funded research project into stillbirth education for migrant women.

Read more posts related to stillbirth


Visas that limit migrant women's access to health and support services

Migrant women living in rural areas

Discrimination, stigma and stereotyping