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  Newsletter - April 2021

Welcome to our April newsletter!

April is our Birthday month and over the past 30 days, we have been revisiting an important milestone from each of those years - 30 years in 30 days! 

We hope you have had a chance to visit our Facebook and Linkedin pages to relive those 30 years of Women's Health Matters!  

Over those three decades the Centre has certainly had a wide range of work and achievements, so please take a look and explore them.

30th Birthday event


On 30 April, Women’s Health Matters is holding an event to celebrate our 30th birthday!

With COVID restrictions in place, the numbers we could invite were very limited, but we will be live streaming the event from 5.30 pm if you would like to join us in celebrating those 30 years of Women's Health Matters!   

To join us virtually, tune in on our Facebook live on our Facebook page from 5:30pm.

If you want to watch it at a later date - you can find it on our Facebook page! 
Visit our Facebook page

Sexual assault in the ACT


On 28 April, in response to growing concerns over sexual assault in the ACT community, Women’s Health Matters participated in a landmark event that brought together responsible Ministers, all sides of politics, top-level ACT Government representatives, the Chief of Police, and the CEOs of non-government organisations.

Women’s Health Matters presented the overall themes from the findings from our survey so far. that we have been undertaking to better understand women’s experiences seeking help in the ACT, and their views about the services and support that they received.

Those key themes that women have shared with us are:
  • While our current system responses assume that victims seek support and services immediately, our survey responses showed that many women took a long time to disclose or chose never to disclose;
  • Women told us that they did not seek help because of the trauma they were experiencing, their experience of stigma and victim blaming, their fear of not being believed, and their feelings of shame and guilt;
  • The majority of the perpetrators were known to their victims;
  • Few of the women sought help for their physical health – mainly for STI testing and seeking emergency contraception;
  • For many women, the delay in seeking support meant they had accumulated trauma and the decision to reach out for help was as a result of their deteriorating mental health – due to shame, fear, flashbacks, and panic attacks;
  • Many women saw GPs for access to mental health care plans, but the costs involved were a barrier, and the waiting times for publicly funded options were discouraging;
  • When women did feel ready to reach out for help, many told us they could not find the help and supports they needed due to long wait times, lack of empathy and understanding by responses, and not being believed or being blamed for what happened to them;
  • The majority of women sought help from counselling or from friends and family - - because they felt safe, believed, and were given space;
  • Women told us the justice responses they received made them feel interrogated and blamed rather than supported – and very few made the decision to go through the justice system; and
  • Women spoke of the need to educate the wider community more widely about sex and consent, and to focus on these specifics in teaching in the schools (not just ‘respectful relationships’).
Following the presentation of those results, each Minister spoke about their commitments to responses to address this issue.

Three groups have been set up to inform improvements to the responses, and Women’s Health Matters will be representing the voices of ACT women in those groups in the Prevention and Response working groups.  We look forward to making sure that the input women have given us is used to shape the right responses in the ACT.

Thank you to all those women who have already shared their experiences about the responses in the ACT and their views on what needs to be done. If you have not completed the survey yet, but would like your input and views included, the survey can still be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DB36LZM.

The survey closes COB Friday 7 May.
 
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Women's Health Matters Focus Groups

Women’s Health Matters will be holding consultations with women in the next few weeks to inform various work we are undertaking. We will reimburse women $50 for their participation in our focus groups. Taxi vouchers will also be made available to women if they require assistance with transportation.

Please keep your eye on the Women’s Health Matters website, Facebook, and LinkedIn for opportunities to be involved and share your views.
 

Keep an eye on our website for more information
 


 

ACT Disability Reference Group vacancies


There are upcoming vacancies available on the ACT Disability Reference Group (DRG) for persons with disability, with experience as a carer of a person with disability, or experience of the disability services sector.

The DRG is an advisory council that works to ensure the ACT Government is aware of issues affecting people with disability in the ACT. The DRG also advises the ACT Government on ways in which the ACT can be a more inclusive and accessible community for people with disability. Members of the DRG draw on their own experience and their engagement with people with disability to provide that advice.

The DRG meets six times per year for two hours per meeting. On occasion, DRG members will be requested to attend out-of-session forums and workshops. Remuneration will be provided for meetings and some out-of-session engagements.
You can apply in four different ways
  1. Write an application of no more than two pages answering the questions below and upload it to the ACT Diversity Register;
  2. Send your CV and responses to the questions below directly to the Office for Disability using the contact details provided;
  3. Phone or email the Office for Disability and make a time to meet with a member of the team to respond to the questions face-to-face; or
  4. Make a short video about yourself and email it (or a link to the video) to the Office for Disability.
  5. Please address these questions in your response:
    a. Why do you want to be on the ACT Disability Reference Group?
    b. What knowledge can you bring to the ACT Disability Reference Group?
    c. What experience do you have in promoting the inclusion of people with disability?
    d. Please indicate if you are also interested in the role of Chair, or Deputy Chair.
Please note that should you be successful you will need to be available for a half-day orientation session during the week commencing 28 June 2021 and a DRG meeting on 13 July.

If you require reasonable adjustments to be made to enable you to participate in this process, please contact the Office for Disability:
Email: OfficeforDisability@act.gov.au
Phone: 6207 1086

Applications close Monday 7 May 2021.  
For more information on the DRG, go to:  https://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/disability_act/disability-reference-group
 
More information on the ACT Disability Reference Group

Jean Hailes advice for women

Don't miss the latest edition of the Jean Hailes advice for women. It covers a broad span of topics from a concerning rise in syphilis among women of reproductive age, heavy periods and septate uterus', sexual health across the ages, and some delicious and nutritious recipes, be sure to check it out. 

Published with the permission of Jean Hailes for Women's Health.
 

Jean Hailes advice for women
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Women's Centre for Health Matters · PO Box 385 · Mawson · Canberra, Act 2607 · Australia

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