Women at the heart of the National Women's Health Summit

02 March 2018

Media Release

An event hosted by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists gathered the top influencers in the women’s health sector to share, discuss and dissect the most pressing challenges facing Australian women.
The morning portion of the program saw a number of expert keynote speakers bring their diverse experiences to the delegates.
Health Minister Greg Hunt opened by announcing a commitment to the reneawal of the national women's health strategy and acknowledged the Summit as the catalyst to establishing 2020–2030 Women’s Health strategy. A 2.5-million dollar investment was also announced to support research into early diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis to align with endometriosis awareness month, which is held in March.
Issues of gender equity were woven throughout various keynote presentations. Shadow Minister Catherine King acknowledged that abortion access in Australia was ‘unfinished business’ and called for a broad gender equity-focused framework to lead the women’s health agenda.
The economic impact of poor women’s health was also discussed and, in particular, the link between earnings and mental health. Professor Brenda Gannon from the University of Queensland told the audience women who earn less than men in a comparable job are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression than other women, and a further 4.5 times more likely than men. Addressing the gender pay gap was acknowledged as a way to create more equitable choices and improved health for women in Australia.
CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Pat Turner provided context about how health reforms and policies that are not developed in consultation with Aboriginal peoples have a negative impact on the communities they aim to serve. Ms Turner emphasised that future health interventions need to be discussed and delivered in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous communities.
Central to the approach of the Summit was placing women’s health within the context of social determinants. Professor Fran Baum brought to the fore how social structures influence health and wellbeing at the community and individual levels. “If you want to improve health, you need to improve daily living conditions such as food supply, housing, education and social protection,” said Prof Baum. Senator Janet Rice’s presentation also centred on the impact of social structures on women’s health and called for more investment into community networks.
The remainder of the afternoon allowed delegates to participate in small discussions in a specialist area of their choice. Outcomes from these sessions will contribute to a women’s health priorities document to be released on International Women’s Day, 8 March.



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