2024 Women’s Health Summit Ignites Call to Action Against Systemic Gender Bias in Healthcare

RANZCOG

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Updated
4 April 2024

Today, RANZCOG was honoured to present the 2024 Women’s Health Summit at Parliament House alongside the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Honourable Ged Kearney.  

“Today was an incredible day of sharing and learning, and RANZCOG leaves with a renewed commitment to our members and the patients we care for. Building on today’s robust discussions, we will continue our fight for equity and excellence in women’s health,” said RANZCOG President, Dr Gillian Gibson.  

The Summit brought together a range of experts in the field of women’s health, both health professionals and those with lived experience, with a commitment to working together to make progress on our shared goals of improving access, care and outcomes for women, empowering women, making our health care system safe, and translating research to practice. 

In line with the themes of the Summit, Assistant Minister Kearney has released the results of the #EndGenderBias survey.  This survey highlights the very real systemic biases that many women still face when interacting with the health care system.  

RANZCOG prepared an extensive response to the survey in October 2023, and the College is heartened to see the conclusions that our work drew reflected in the results. RANZCOG thanks Assistant Minister Kearney for her commitment to act and looks forward to her continued efforts to end systemic gender biases in health care, especially through the levers the federal government has at its disposal.  

RANZCOG’s submission highlighted several actions the federal government must take to combat systemic gender discrimination in the Australian health care system: 

  • The government can take steps to ensure adequate supply of sexual and reproductive health services and the workforce required to deliver them in rural and regional areas. Women in Australia living outside the capital cities have much poorer access to abortion and contraceptive care. In many communities, publicly funded services are poorly supported or non-existent, forcing many women to contemplate either going without adequate care, travelling long distances for care, or shouldering the financial burden of expensive private services. 
  • Women across Australia (regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status) spend more on out-of-pocket health services than men. For example, costs for medical imaging, especially for obstetric and gynaecological needs outstrip what the Medicare Benefits Scheme will rebate. An urgent review is required to eliminate gender disparities in MBS items to ensure that women’s health care is valued equally. 
  • Truly culturally safe care is still a goal we have yet to reach uniformly in Australia. Indigenous, migrant and refugee women and girls, and LGBTIQ+ Australians continue to face systemic barriers to accessing the health system. The federal government can ensure adequate training resources are available to all health practitioners, regardless of specialty or scope of practice to deliver truly culturally safe care to everyone seeking health care.  

Today’s Summit, with unifying purpose, reinforced the urgent need for a women’s healthcare revolution, driven by a concerted effort from all those in positions of influence. We all have a responsibility to examine what we can do both individually and systemically to fulfill the commitments made at today’s Summit. RANZCOG thanks Assistant Minister Kearney for her convention of the Summit, and all participants for their contributions to our shared priorities. The College looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with those who attended – and all those not able to join us – on behalf of everyone we care for.  

For media enquiries
Bec McPhee
Manager, Executive Office & Advocacy
0413 258 166
bmcphee@ranzcog.edu.au

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