Newsletter - October 2021

Welcome to our October newsletter!

It's been two weeks out of lockdown and well done to the ACT community in moving forward as the most vaccinated jurisdiction in the world! We hope you and your loved ones are continuing to keep safe while enjoying the easing of restrictions and supporting local businesses re-opening. Our office is currently in preparation for a return to office with new team members in the next two months!

We would like to welcome Karen Mowat who has cracked on into week two with us as Executive Assistant and we are looking forward to welcoming Dr Merrindahl Andrew and Dr Romy Liso joining us as Health Promotion and Research Officers this week! 

We acknowledge the great continuing support from you, our wonderful subscribers, as we turn towards a new and exciting direction. Thank you for being a part of Women's Health Matters!

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Staff updates

Vivien has been our Interim CEO for just over a month and got straight to business in revitalising our organisation direction and team. Julia is happy to have finalised the findings from our survey on women's experiences with help seeking after a sexual assault support to inform the ACT Government's Sexual Assault Prevention and Reform program and will return to editing the digital health navigation tool for young women to assist with their access to STI testing in the ACT, as well as communication procedures. To keep updated about our projects, and keep up to date about health information follow us on Facebook or check out our website. If you need to contact us please send all correspondence to
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New submission to the Sexual Assault Reform

Earlier this year Women’s Health Matters undertook a survey about ACT women's experiences of seeking help following a sexual assault. This was done to complement our research in 2016 on women’s experiences of seeking help for domestic violence, and also to inform the ACT Government’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program which was formed in early this year. 

The aim of our research was to understand the needs of ACT women who have been sexually assaulted and the way they approach seeking help in the ACT – and an important part this was to gain an understanding of women’s views on what worked and what didn’t, and their suggestions for how the response system could be improved to better support women seeking supports for mental and physical health, community support, and police and legal services.

We would like to acknowledge our Health Promotion Officer Pip Courtney-Bailey for leading the survey, Health Promotion Officer Julia Tran for the analysis and the Office for Family Safety in assisting us recently finalise the report. 

Click here to read our submission including the findings from the survey of ACT women's experiences of seeking help following a sexual assault. 


Read submission here

Annual General Meeting 2021

Last week on 21 October 2021 we held our first virtual annual general meeting and online special event. We were joined by special guest speaker Minister Emma Davidson who shared her kind words of praise for our historical reputation as the first feminist women's health service funded by the National Women's Health Policy in Australia and our ongoing work as peak research, health promotion and advocacy for women's health and wellbeing in the ACT. We were also joined by special guest speaker Shadow Minister Nicole Lawder who shared her vision to empower women while recognising gender-based issues that became more apparent during COVID-19 times. The Women's Health Matters team also presented our 30 years history and reflection from our 30th birthday event on 30 April 2021, and we also launched our new submission to the Sexual Assault Reform. We will release film clips of the speeches soon to our subscribers.
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Stealthing is criminalised in the ACT 

On the evening of 7 October 2021, ACT became Australia's first jurisdiction to criminalise stealthing - the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex. 

Stealthing is the act of removing a condom without a partner's knowledge or consent during sex, or not using a condom at all, after consent was given on the proviso of condom use. It can also have serious physical and mental health ramifications including trauma, unwanted pregnancy and STIs. 

The Bill was brought forward by Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee back in April 2021 with her proposal that was advised by Women's Health Matters and other ACT local women's rights and sexual health organisations. Read article here

This explicit law is an important step in shaping Australia's conversation and language around consent, sexual assault and the culture surrounding sexual violence as Ms Lee said "sends a clear message to the community that this behaviour is unacceptable and a crime”. 

We are greatly supportive and applaud that anti-stealthing has become legislated in the ACT and will continue to strive for better sex education for all ages, improved public awareness, changed cultural attitudes and breaking down of power dynamics to empower the one in three women (and one in five men) who have experienced stealthing to come forward.

Free pelvic floor workshops - for prevention/management of continence and prolapse concerns 

Women of all ages are invited to attend this free online workshop presented by a Physiotherapist from Canberra Health Services. This workshop is targeted to women who are experiencing continence or pelvic floor concerns as well as those who are wishing to prevent them.
This workshop will provide education and practical self-help strategies that may be implemented straight away all in the comfort of your own home.
This workshop will cover issues relating to:

  • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Bladder and bowel control/incontinence.
  • Bladder and bowel prolapse.
  • Concerns pre/post gynaecological surgery.

Monday 8th November 1pm – 4pm online.

Bookings are essential: Please contact the Community Heath Intake Team on (02) 5124 9977 so an individual email with the online link can be sent to you.

Take Control - Live Well

Do you have a chronic condition (lasting 3 months or more)?
If yes, this is the program for you!

Canberra Health Services is offering a FREE 3-week course for adults with a chronic condition. Topics include making the most of your health appointments, physical activity, healthy eating, goal setting, problem solving and peer support.

Sessions start this November 2021 and are delivered online so you can complete the course from anywhere.

Call Central Health Intake on 02 5124 9977 to register or email for more information.

A maximum of 8 people per group will be accepted on a first-in, first-served basis.

Register here

Scoping study to identify key issues for the mental health of older people 

Conducted by: National Ageing Research Institute and National Mental Health Commission

Focus groups or interview participants needed: older adults who live in the community or in residential aged care as well as family or friend carers of older people living with mental illness to participate in a focus group discussion.

Duration: 1.5hrs


  • Aged 65 years +, or aged 50 years+ if you are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background, live with HIV/AIDS or have an experience of chronic homelessness.
  • You do not need to have personal experience of mental health problems to participate.
  • Aged 65 years +, or aged 50 years+ if you are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background, live with HIV/AIDS or have an experience of chronic homelessness.
  • Have used mental health services in the past 12 months
  • An adult (18 years+) family or friend carer of an older person living with mental illness.
Participants will receive a gift card for their contribution.

Email: or
Mobile: 0493 093 969


What's on in November?

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for news and information relevant to women's health and wellbeing in the ACT.
Our Facebook page


Jean Hailes advice for women

The health issues we don’t like to discuss.

When something goes wrong (or doesn’t seem quite right) with our vulval or vaginal health, women often turn to information online rather than raising the issue with their doctor. That’s why we recently updated and expanded the Jean Hailes vulval and vaginal health webpages to include more health conditions, the latest treatments, and trusted advice. Below, we share the highlights from the updated information, along with a gentle reminder that when it comes to your vulval and vaginal health, self-diagnosis is no substitute for an examination and discussion with your doctor.

Read more here

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


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

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