30 August 2023
Describing Impact and Return for all Women in Victoria – Women’s Health Services Report on Collective Impact Released
The Victorian Women’s Health Services Network are proud to launch Small Change, Big Impact: Women’s Health Services Network Collective Impact Report. The report captures the combined impact of the women’s health sector to advance Victorian women’s health and equality - a key part of Victoria’s public health infrastructure for four decades.
“This report empowers decision-makers, funders, policymakers, and health sector leaders. It a clear and comprehensive description of how the sector operates, what our work looks like, and how it provides for a healthier, safer and more equal Victoria. “said Tricia Currie, Chair of the Women’s Health Service Network, and, CEO of Women’s Health Loddon Mallee.
The report, released today:
· Describes the unique role of the women’s health sector in Victoria’s health system.
· Illustrates the role of health promotion and primary prevention within the health system in reducing demand on clinical and response services and keeping Victorians healthier and safer.
· Showcases how the sector’s work drives a more equitable Victorian health system.
· Draws together case studies and testimonials that highlight how the sector leads best practice evidence-based partnerships and projects to deliver effective and economically efficient activities across every region of the state.
· Demonstrates the significant value investing in the sector’s people, plans and systems brings to the health and wellbeing of Victorians.
“The report details how collective impact evaluation delivers return-on-investment for public health funding and details the medium- and long-term impacts of strategic social change work. “ said Tricia Currie “The report is vital reading for decision makers, funders, policymakers, and health sector leaders. It captures, for the first time how the sector delivers multi-faceted statewide change across four decades of investment in Women’s Health Services.”
Small Change, Big Impact demonstrates the ongoing benefits to investing in a well-resourced women’s health sector and describes how this unique infrastructure in Victoria’s public health system can continue to be harnessed to deliver more equitable health and community wellbeing reform for all Victorians.
Quotes from Women’s Health Services:
Amanda Dunn, Acting CEO, Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West
“‘The women’s health services have worked tirelessly for over three decades, often behind the scenes, to articulate and take action on those factors that cause and maintain gendered violence; unequal access to timely, culturally-safe and affordable health care services; and on the impact that gendered social and economic inequality has on whole communities.
This report casts light on that work and the extraordinary achievements of the women’s health services in tailoring local solutions to local problems for greatest impact. The collaboration, quality and breadth of partnerships, and consistent sharing of work to enable programs and projects to be scaled up across the state has enabled a relatively small government investment to have a significant impact.”
Amanda Kelly, CEO, Women’s Health Goulburn North East
“Primary Prevention is not only focused on reducing ill-health across our communities, it’s also creating an environment where women can thrive and participate in their communities to the fullest extent that they choose. The Women’s Health sector has been working with women to imagine better in their lives and their communities for decades now.
“In regional Victoria, the challenges faced by women are exacerbated by reduced access to services, long distances to travel and reduced opportunities to participate in civic life as well as employment. This report provides ample evidence that by understanding the unique issues facing regional women, we can have a positive impact on the lives of all women across Victoria”
Dale Wakefield CEO, GENWEST
"Women working together for their own health, and for the strength of their communities, is what has always driven progress toward gender equity. The women's health sector works alongside women and gender diverse communities, with care, courage and optimism. We do this with decades of expertise and evidence to lead policy and programs that effectively drive change. Our work helps women and gender diverse people to lead their lives with greater agency and autonomy, empowers women to make informed decisions about their health, and builds solidarity and authority to change systems and culture so we make gender equality a reality.
It is extraordinary what has been achieved across all women’s health services since their inception. No matter the public health issue or health promotion opportunity, the whole of Victoria benefits from feminist, place-based women’s health organisations.”
Dianne Hill, CEO, Women’s Health Victoria
“This report demonstrates the unique and critical role women’s health services play as part of Victoria’s health infrastructure.
Women (cis and trans inclusive) and gender diverse people experience high rates of gendered violence, trauma, psychological ill health and chronic disease and lack access to vital sexual and reproductive health services. They face multiple and systemic barriers and discrimination to access health care to meet their needs in a safe environment.
Collectively, the Women’s Health Services Network brings extensive gendered expertise developed over the last 30 years to influence state wide policy while addressing community needs through dedicated place based structures and engagement directly with consumers. Only by embedding and sustaining an intersectional gender lens across the whole health system through the Women’s Health Services Network can we achieve equity in health for all women and gender diverse people.”
Elly Taylor, CEO, Women’s Health East
“This evaluation report showcases the role of our sector in leading regional and state-wide collective impact work to change complex social issues, such as gender inequality and violence against women. Our sector are experts in leading partnerships and prevention infrastructure to coordinate and deliver primary prevention activities using place-based approaches to maximise impact and reach. This long-term approach is critical to promote the health, safety and wellbeing of women across our state.”
Helen Riseborough, CEO, Women’s Health in the North
“Achievements in health promotion are often difficult to pinpoint. As health promotion organisations, the role of Women’s Health Services is to improve health outcomes for women and gender diverse people we may never see. Our work focusses on addressing the conditions which create gender determined inequalities in health outcomes, particularly in relation to gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and mental health. The Small Change, Big Impact report brings this work to light and demonstrates the benefits of sustained long-term effort, which is best achieved through collective action.”
Kate Graham, CEO Gippsland Women’s Health
“We can reduce premature deaths, improve women and girls' health and empower individuals to build their health literacy and healthy behaviours through sound health promotion and prevention models of care. This exceptional and evidence informed report highlights the solutions available through the ongoing work of Women’s Health Services”
“We must work together to address the disproportionate and unacceptable rates of gendered violence, sexual harassment, chronic disease and psychological ill health that women in rural, regional and remote areas face. We must tackle the barriers associated with the tyranny of distance and isolation, a lack of access to specialist women’s health services and long wait times for medical appointments and psychological support”
Kit McMahon, CEO, Women’s Health in the South East
“Health promotion and primary prevention saves lives and valuable resources of our health and social system. This report shows how this is done, why it is done and the impact. It tangibly describes a part of our health system that we know is often under recognised. What is powerful about the women’s health infrastructure is its ability to implement health policy at both the place based level, and at the state wide level all they while doing that work that is unique to Women’s Health Services, ensuring that services and programs are delivered equitably for all people, not just the few.”
Marianne Hendron, CEO, Women’s Health Grampians
“Women’s health services have been working for many years to shift the dial on gender inequality, violence against women, and sexual and reproductive health services. This is long-term work and together, we draw on our collective knowledge to tailor approaches for our spheres of influence, across the state. Our priorities are shared, but what this report shows is that our ability to seed change in our local communities – and work alongside organisations in our area – goes a long way in creating a world where violence against women and gender diverse people doesn’t exist, and gender equality does exist.”
The full report and summary is available now from the Women’s Health Services Network Website https://www.whsn.org.au/our-impact
Women’s Health Services Website - https://www.whsn.org.au/
Tricia Currie (Chair Women’s Health Service Network)