Tuesday, 23 May 2023
Our reaction to 2023/24 Victorian state budget: a promising investment into health and wellbeing for migrant and refugee women
The 23/24 Victorian State Budget provides a welcome investment into women’s health and wellbeing. The investment of a total $73.3 million will enable the establishment of 20 new women’s health clinics across Victoria, as well as a dedicated Aboriginal women’s health clinic, a mobile women’s health clinic servicing rural and remote Victoria, and nine additional sexual and reproductive health hubs.
These initiatives provide some promising news for migrant and refugee women. Due to gender and race inequities in the health system, migrant and refugee women currently have lower levels of access to health services in Victoria, and as a result, they have poorer health outcomes than the general population.
The women’s health initiatives announced in today’s budget have the potential to ensure that migrant women have the healthcare they need, where they need it, in their local areas. The work now begins to ensure that the clinics and sexual reproductive health hubs are accessible, culturally safe, and responsive to the needs of Victoria’s migrant and refugee women.
The Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH), Victoria’s only migrant and refugee women’s health service, look forward to working with the government to provide specialist expertise to the design and development of the clinics and the sexual reproductive health hubs, so that they fulfil their promise of equitable access and cultural safety.
While it is heartening to see that women’s clinical health services have been boosted in this budget, there is little to celebrate today in relation to gendered health promotion or preventative health for women. For women to be healthy and safe in their communities, investment also needs to be boosted in gendered health promotion and in Victorian women’s health services, including MCWH. We look forward to seeing further, long term commitments to Victorian women’s health services in the next budget.
We have come a long way in gender equality in Victoria. It is encouraging to see that the Gender Responsive Budgeting Unit continues to be supported, and that the government aims to embed gender equity strategies across all departments. However, it is disappointing that only $0.1m has been allocated within the Women’s portfolio for specific gender equity programs. There is still much work to be done, and the need to invest in specific and tailored gender equity programs remains, especially for disadvantaged women who will be left behind if they are not supported to equitably participate in government initiatives. We look forward to seeing specific investment into gender equity and women’s leadership programs when the Gender Equality Action Plan is released in the coming months.
For all media inquiries please contact:
Dr Adele Murdolo, Executive Director, Multicultural Centre For Women’s Health