Women's health west quarterly policy and law reform scan

Women's Health West
Policy and Law Reform Scan
This scan is provided to inform the WHW strategic planning process. It outlines key policy documents, legislative reforms and the external policy environment that relate to women's health, safety and wellbeing. Women's Health West International Context

International Gender Equality
In November 2015, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)
held a 16-day international conference in Istanbul to end men's violence against women. Official representatives
from more than 40 countries vowed to take a zero tolerance approach and immediate action to end the global
epidemic of violence against women. They agreed to greater investment in gender equality, to share data on
violence against women and to strengthen existing laws to protect women. The conference was held 20 years after
the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was adopted by 189 countries in 1995 and set the
most progressive agenda for advancing women's rights. Since the conference, the Executive Directors of UN
Women and UNFPA launched the Essential Services Package, a toolkit of guidelines, services and best practice
to support women and girls subjected to violence. This resource can be found here:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau selects a 50-50 cabinet (2015)
In November newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his cabinet which for the first time
in Canadian history is made up of 15 men and 15 women. When asked at a press conference why he chose a
gender balanced cabinet, the self-declared feminist's answer was brief: "Because it's 2015". The new gender
division comes on top of existing cabinet-making criteria for regional, linguistic and ethnic representation, including
the practice of selecting at least one minister from each of the country's 10 provinces. Trudeau's cabinet also
includes a former Afghanistan refugee as the minister of democratic institutions, a para-Olympic swimmer from
Vancouver in the sports ministry and an Aboriginal lawyer as minister of justice and attorney general. More details
about Trudeau's cabinet can be found her
Nepal's first female Prime Minister (2015)
Nepal has elected a long-time women's rights campaigner as the country's first female president, as the Himalayan
nation pushes for more gender equity in politics and civic life. Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the 54-year-old deputy leader
of Nepal's Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist-Leninist, had lobbied actively for the new constitution to require
that either the president or vice-president be a woman. Bidhya Devi Bhandari said her election by
the Parliament marked a first step towards assuring these constitutional guarantees of equality are fulfilled. The
constitution now requires that one-third of the country's legislators be women, and that women be included in all
government committees. Bidhya Devi Bhandari has also promised to actively champion the rights of minority groups
and women in Nepal.

Global Ambassador for Women and Girls
Former Democrats leader Natasha Stott Despoja has been appointed to this position by Foreign Minister, Julie
Bishop. This follows her appointment as founding chair of the Foundation to prevent Violence against Women and
their Children. The minister sees ‘one of the best ways to achieve peace and security and…achieve stronger
communities and societies is to empower the women and the girls in your populations'. Further information can
be found at:

Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations (2013)
Australia is currently participating in the final stages of negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership; an agreement
to regulate free trade in the Asia-Pacific region. While the details of the agreement are yet to be released, a draft of
the intellectual property chapter was leaked in November 2013. United States draft proposals for expanded patent
protection have led many academics and public health professions to question what the agreement might mean for
timely access to affordable medicines. In response, a motion was passed in the senate calling for early release of
the draft text and greater public scrutiny of the agreement. The following areas of concern were raised in the letter
presented to the federal Minister for Health by 44 prominent academics in public health and health sciences:
 Intellectual property provisions that would expand patent monopolies, delay the availability of generic medicines and increase the cost of medicines for taxpayers and the public  Procedural changes to our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that would prevent the use of effective pricing mechanisms, create new avenues of appeal and new opportunities for pharmaceutical industry influence over decision making Women's Health West  An investor-state dispute settlement clause that will give new rights to foreign corporations to sue our government in international tribunals over its public health and environmental policies and laws  Rules for labelling wine and spirits that could prevent Australia from mandating health warnings on the principal front or back label on an alcohol container and provisions for proprietary formulas that may limit government's future options for food label ing. After the agreement is signed, it will be tabled in parliament for 20 sitting days where it will be put to a vote for
ratification. The agreement is expected to be tabled in 2014.

WHO study – global prevalence and health impacts of violence against women (2013)
A study from the World Health Organisation presents a systematic review of the global and regional prevalence and
health impacts of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual assault. Globally, 35.6 per cent of women have
experienced physical or sexual violence. Regional findings show that women in high income countries do not fare
much better, with prevalence sitting at 32.7 per cent. The study also found that women who experience intimate
partner violence are:
 16 per cent more likely to have low birth weight babies;  Twice as likely to have an abortion;  Twice as likely to experience depression; and  Almost twice as likely to have alcohol use and abuse problems. Full report available at
UN International Day of the Girl Child
The 11 October 2014 marked the third United Nations International Day of the Girl Child. The theme for 2014 was
Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence. Building on the United Nations Secretary-
General'sthis was a day focussed on raising awareness about
the importance of education for all and the global movement to end child marriage, to empower adolescent girls
and to ensure that they are protected from harm, are supported by family and friends, and are able to act in their
own interest.
UN resolution to eliminate female genital mutilation/cutting (2012)
On the 21 December 2012, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution banning
the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). The resolution is signed by 194 UN member states. It
urges countries to take all necessary measures to protect women and girls from FGM/C, including enforcing
legislation and awareness-raising initiatives. Importantly, the resolution also calls for special attention to protect and
support women and girls who have been affected by FGM/C and those at risk of the practice – including those from
migrant and refugee backgrounds.

Global study – feminism central to preventing violence against women (2012)
A large global study on violence against women found that strong feminist movements are critical to preventing
violence. The study includes data from 70 countries, spanning the last four decades. Full report available at:

CEDAW Action Plan for Women in Australia (2010)
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is the
international bill of rights for women, which Australia has ratified. The UN reviewed Australia's performance under
CEDAW in 2010 and made a series of recommendations. The Plan outlines 15 actions the Australian Government
must adequately respond to before the next CEDAW report. CEDAW's recommendations focus on ensuring
women's human rights are protected (e.g. prohibit non-therapeutic sterilisation) and on increasing anti-
discrimination, improving women's public and political representation, elimination of violence, women's education
and employment, and in particular, the need to improve the universal human rights for ATSI women, CALD women,
and women with disabilities. Further information can be found at:

Women's Health West Federal Government

Federal Inquiry into Domestic Violence and Gender Inequality (2016)
On 31 March 2016, Women's Health West submitted a consultation paper to the Senate Finance and Public
Administration References Committee of the Australian Parliament for the Inquiry into Domestic Violence and
Gender Inequality. The submission outlined thirteen recommendations in response to the terms of reference
developed by the Federal Government. Our submission highlights how rigid gender stereotypes contribute to
cultural conditions that drive family violence. The submission outlines measures to redress gender inequity as a key
driver of family violence that include promoting women in leadership and decision-making roles, redressing the
gender pay and superannuation gap, increasing paid parental leave entitlements and funding accessible childcare
services across Australia. This submission is available at:

Senate Inquiry into the Phenomenon Colloquially Referred to as ‘Revenge Porn' (2016)
On 12 November 2015 the Australian Labor Party put forward a bill to amend the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal
Code) to criminalise ‘revenge porn' under federal law. Women's Health West's submission asserts that this is highly
important in creating a gender equitable, safe and inclusive Australia for women and girls. Our submission asserts
that ‘revenge porn' is a gendered phenomenon and that the term is problematic for a number of reasons, one of
which is that it suggests that victim/survivors are to blame for taking a ‘pornographic' image. We also recommended
that the Federal Government respond to this problem within the broader framework of men's violence against
women. The submission that outlines thirteen recommendations is available at:

Cut to Federal funding for Safe Schools Program (2016)
The Turnbull Government has made significant changes to the federally funded Safe Schools anti-bullying program
that supports organisations and schools to work together to create safe and inclusive school environments for same-
sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families. The changes considerably reduce the lesson
content, restrict it to secondary schools, shift the program to a government website, and remove all links to other
material and sites. Parental consent is now required before schools opt to use the program material and before
student participation in the program.
Women's Health West wrote a letter of support to the Minister for Education Honorary James Merlino to commend the Andrew's Government on their commitment to continue the Safe Schools program across Victoria despite federal funding cuts. This is recognition of the program's importance in creating inclusive spaces for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students. The gender pay gap
Due to the failure of the public and private sectors to adequately redress the gender pay gap, women will not receive
pay parity with men for another 118 years, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap. Women
are now only earning the amount men did in 2006 when the gap report was first produced. Australia ranked 36 of
the gender pay gap. Iceland has the smallest gender pay gap in the world, while Yemen is ranked last. Educational
attainment gender gap now stands at 95 per cent, or 5 per cent away from parity compared with 92 per cent in
2006. Worldwide, 25 countries have closed their gap entirely, with women making up the majority of university
students in nearly 100 countries. However, 22 per cent of countries widened the gap and there was a weak
correlation between more women in education, and their ability to earn a living.
Proposed cuts to Paid Parental Leave (2016)
In a submission to a Senate Inquiry into the Fairer Paid Parental Leave Amendment Bill, Sex Discrimination
Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, warned that the Abbott Government's proposed cuts to paid parental leave
would breach Australia's international human rights obligations and increase the gender pay gap. New modelling
shows parents in low-paid jobs will forgo between $3,900 and $10,500 as a result of the proposals. The proposal
is undergoing revision after being rejected by the Senate crossbench in December 2015. The government requires
the support of six of eight crossbenchers to pass legislation.
Fringe Benefits Tax Cap (2016)
The Federal Government has passed legislation that impacts on the tax cap for meals and entertainment in the not-
for-profit sector, which is a strongly female-dominated workforce with low wages. The changes reduce staff wages
Women's Health West by capping the tax-free proportion of the benefit to less than $50 per week and add it to reportable fringe benefits,
which in turn raise costs such as the Medicare Levy, HECS repayments and reduce parenting payments.

The State of the Family Report 2015
In October 2015, Anglicare Australia released a report that found older single women are much more vulnerable to
poverty and homelessness as a result of their lower workplace participation, lifelong unpaid caring responsibilities
and lack of affordable housing, coupled with the impact of family violence. The report confirms Australia's pervasive
and growing income inequality. Figures just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm this trend, with
the gender retirement savings gap widening to alarmingly high levels that will leave many women in poverty when
they cease work. The median male superannuation balance for 55 to 64 year olds is $150,000, compared to only
$80,000 for women. The Anglicare report and an interactive PDF are available at:
Pregnancy- related Discrimination (2016)
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHCR) has launched a new website and online resources to fight
discrimination faced by pregnant women and parents in the workforce. The website was developed in response to
pervasive discrimination identified during the Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work National
Review report. The resource is designed to inform employers and employees of their legal obligations and
entitlements. Compilation of leading practice and strategies to implement in workplaces will be added in coming
months. Women's Health West wrote a submission to the National Review, calling attention to the persistent
stereotypes and expectations that produce gendered differences in the prevalence, nature and consequences of
discrimination related to pregnancy and caring responsibilities. AHRC resources are available at:

Family Violence Leave (2016)
The Australian Labor Party will take a proposal to introduce an additional five days of paid domestic violence leave
in the National Employment Standards to the next election. This is welcome news, although behind what some
Australian businesses are already offering. In January 2016, Telstra announced that it would offer 10 days family
violence leave for all of its 34,000 staff. Women's Health West offer 20 days paid leave per annum to staff who
experience family violence in their personal life.

Gender Equality Scorecard (2015)
A new report by the government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency found women make up only 15.4 per cent of
CEO positions in Australia, with a gender pay gap of 24 per cent. The data also revealed that the percentage of
employers from the non-public sector with 100 employees or more with a gender equality strategy increased from
18.3 per cent in 2013-14 to 20.6 per cent in 2014-15. Increases were also recorded in the proportion of employers
conducting gender pay gap analyses, introducing policies or strategies for flexible work conditions and supporting
employees who experience family violence. Finally, the report showed that women work part-time at three times
the rate of men. Although women made up nearly half (48.8 per cent) of the workforce, full-time women comprised
only one in five employees (20.3 per cent). Only 6.3 per cent of management roles were part-time. This report is
available here:

Change in Prime Minister and Cabinet (2015)
On 15 September Malcom Turnbull was sworn in as the 29 Prime Minister of Australia after defeating Tony Abbott
in a leadership bal ot. Malcom Turnbull was successful with 54 votes to Tony Abbott's 44 votes. Prime Minister
Turnbull said he will serve out the Coalition's remaining year in office before calling an election. Since entering
Federal politics as the Member of Wentworth in 2004, Mr Turnbull has held a number of parliamentary positions
including most recently as Minister for Communications.
His cabinet includes five women, which is three more than Abbott's cabinet. These women are Marise Payne a New
South Wales Senator who is the first female defence minister, Victorian MP Kelly O'Dwyer who is the Minister for
Small Business and Assistant Treasurer and Western Australian Senator Michaelia Cash who is the Minister for
Employment and Minister for Women. Foreign minister Julie Bishop and health minister Sussan Ley remain in their
ministerial portfolios. More details about Prime Minister Turnbull's cabinet can be found here:
Women's Health West
Crime Code Amendment (Private Sexual Material) Bill 2015
In September, the Australian Labor Party put forward a Crime Code Amendment Bill 2015 to improve Australian
legislative responses to ‘revenge porn'. ‘Revenge porn' occurs when a person distributes sexual y explicit images
and/or videos without the consent of the individual in the visual and is a form of violence against women. The Labor
Party has now established a senate inquiry into revenge porn, to look into potential policy responses to the problem,
including both civil and criminal legal measures. The Turnbull Government has not stated whether it will support the
bill. However, it has been backed by several MPs, including Karen McNamara.
Our Watch – Change the story (2015)
On 10 November, Australia's first evidence-based framework for the prevention of violence against women and
children was launched at Parliament House by Natasha Stott Despoja who is chair of Our Watch. The framework
calls for action on gender inequality as a driver of violence against women, that women's independence must be
promoted, gender stereotypes and roles challenged, and action to promote equal and respectful relations between
women and men be taken. The framework can be found here:

Sex Discrimination Commissioner 2015
After eight years as the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick finished in this role in September
2015. She is reportedly most proud of overcoming "gender asbestos", where unconscious bias is ‘built into the walls
and ceilings' of big organisation (Medhora, 2015). The Honorary John von Doussa is now acting Sex Discrimination
Commissioner. For more detail about the taunts, frustrations and successes of her eight years as the Sex
Discrimination Commissioner:

United Nations Human Rights Review (2015)
The UN Human Rights Council's official review of Australia's human rights policies took place at the Palais des
Nations in Geneva on 9 November 2015. During the review, representatives from more than 100 countries gave
recommendations on how Australia needs to improve its human rights record. Countries including Brazil, Turkey,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Iran and North Korea expressed concern over
Australia's treatment of refugees in detention, rates of family violence and poor health outcomes for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people.
Freedom from discrimination report (2015)
In November 2015, a report released on the 40 anniversary of the Racial Discrimination Act by the Australian Human
Rights Commission reveals that many Australian Muslims feel inadequately protected by the current Racial
Discrimination Act 1975
. The Act makes it an offence to discriminate on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity,
nationality and immigrant status. Community and religious leaders have questioned the relevance of the Act in
protecting Muslim Australians, as religion is not a protected attribute in the legislation. There are also community
concerns about limited protections against institutional racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
More information and this report can be found here:

COAG reform to help prevent child and youth suicides (2015)
A new Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement to standardise state and territory coronial legislation
will help to prevent child and youth suicides. In 2014, National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell conducted
a national examination of the circumstances and contexts in which children and young people attempt self-harm.
Commissioner Mitchell welcomes the COAG agreement to implement the recommendations of the The report's recommendation 3b called on the Standing Council on Law, Crime and Community Safety
to put the issue of standardisation of coronial legislation and/or coronial systems on its agenda.

Workplace gender and equality strategy (2015)
The Federal Minister for Women Michaelia Cash released the results of the Workplace Gender and Equality
Strategy in September 2015, which showed a demonstrably beneficial economic impact of employers having a
Women's Health West gender equality strategy. The strategy was funded by the Department of Employment and undertaken by the Centre
for Workplace Leadership in response to concerns about gender equality indicators released by the Workplace
Gender Equality Agency. They found that only 7 per cent of employers have a gender equality strategy and only 13
per cent of employers had a strategy for implementing flexible work policies. The findings can now be used to train
leaders on approaches to embedding gender equity strategies in the workplace.

Refugees accepted by Australia (2015)
Australia has increased the number of accepted refugees as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis. In addition to the
13,750 refugees resettled annually, 12,000 additional refugees, with a particular focus on women, children and
families and those who are most vulnerable, were accepted. More details can be found here:

Federal budget analysis 2015-2016
The 2015-2016 Federal budget retains some significant cuts from last year despite an apparent shift in policy and
strategy. The budget has little overall to assist women, particularly women experiencing disadvantage. Together
the past two Coalition budgets remove approximately $15 billion over four years from basic services, which will
affect low and middle income households, and women disproportionately. Points of interest in this year's budget
 $3.5 billion reform package to make childcare more affordable, accessible and flexible to support women to return to the workforce  Changes to the Family Tax Benefit, meaning that 573,000 families now stand to lose this benefit if the government succeeds in passing stalled legislation to stop such payments to families whose youngest child is six years or older  No new or additional funding to redress violence against women and children at the community level  A change in policy regarding maternity leave sees around 80,000 Australian women no longer able to claim paid parental leave from the Federal government and their employer. The policy undermines women's economic independence and their continued engagement with and participation in the workforce  An absence of funding for affordable housing to comprehensively redress one of the critical barriers to safety, security and stability for women  Changes to Newstart that will result in people under the age of 25 having to wait a month before receiving
The National Foundation of Australian Women published a detailed gender analysis of the 2015-2016 Federal
Budget, available at:

Australian international aid (2015)
Since 2013 aid has dropped to an all-time low and been cut by $11.3 billion. This will inevitably affect the ability of
Australia's aid organisations to focus on improving women's rights to economic empowerment, safety and security
and civil and political participation in the region. For example IWDA's Burma program has been slashed by 33 per
cent leaving their partnerships with displaced and ethnic women's organisations at severe risk.
Medicare Locals to be replaced by Primary Health Networks (2015)
In April 2015, the Commonwealth Health Minister, the Honourable Sussan Ley, announced the establishment of 31
Primary Health Networks (PHNs) that will ‘reshape the delivery of primary health care across the nation'. PHNs are
to replace the 61 Medicare Locals around Australia from 1 July 2015. Like Medicare Locals the PHNs will be
responsible for ‘improving patient outcomes in their geographical area by ensuring that services across the primary,
community and specialist sectors align and work together in patients' interests.' They aim to improve frontline
services and ensure enhanced integrated care between primary and acute care services with six priority areas
including: mental health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, population health, health workforce, eHealth
and aged care. Differences from Medicare Locals include more streamlined reporting and a name which is more
easily identifiable from Medicare services, as well as plans to improve the management framework. There will be
fewer Primary Health Networks, resulting in some PHNs covering several Local Hospital Network regions. A full
report on PHNs can be found at:

National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination against Older Australians and
Australians with a Disability

Women's Health West The Attorney-General has requested that the Australian Human Rights Commission undertake a National Inquiry
into Employment Discrimination against Older Australians and Australians with a Disability. The inquiry will be
conducted by the Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, the Honourable Susan Ryan AO. This national
inquiry will examine practices, attitudes and Commonwealth laws that deny or diminish equal participation in
employment of older Australians and Australians with a disability. The inquiry will report on its findings and
recommendations by July 2016. More information can be found here:

ACOSS Report: Inequality in Australia - A nation divided
In June 2015 ACOSS released a report highlighting that Australia's level of income inequality is below some
countries within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) but that inequality is
increasing. There is an increasing gap in income and wealth between different groups in society. A person in the
top 20 per cent income group receives around five times as much income as a person in the bottom 20 per cent
and a person in the top 20 per cent wealth group has a staggering 70 times as much wealth as a person in the
bottom 20 per cent. The full report is available here:

Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy
Caseload) Bill 2014
On 5 December 2014, the Coalition Government's new migration Bill passed in both houses of government. The
Bill increases the discretionary powers of the Immigration Minister, reintroduces temporary protection visas,
removes the right to appeal to the Refugee Review Tribunal, narrows the definition of eligibility for ‘refugee' status,
legalises refoulement and removes references to Refugees Convention from Australian law.
Human right organisations across Australia recommend that the Bill not be passed, raising strong concern on its
impact on the rights, safety, health and wellbeing of asylum seekers. By reducing access to fair legal process and
secure residency this Bill will significantly reduce the rights of asylum seekers travelling to or arriving in Australia.
Studies show that uncertainty and fears of repatriation associated with being granted only temporary protection can
contribute to ongoing mental health problems for refugees. The Australian Human Right's Commission has raised
concern that the reintroduction of TPVs could lead to breaches of Australia's international human rights obligations
Senate Inquiry into Income Inequality in Australia (2014)
Following the announcement of the 2014-15 Federal Budget, the Senate Community Affairs References
Committee launched an inquiry into the extent of income inequality in Australia and the likely impact of Government
policies on current and future rates of inequality. Particularly emphasis was given to the changes proposed in the
2014-15 Budget. The Committee's final report, released 3 December 2014, provides strong evidence that proposed
Budget measures will exacerbate income inequality and poverty in Australia. The Committee makes thirteen
recommendations to Government including:
 Regular and systematic analysis of income inequality in Australia  Not to proceed with proposed changes that place restrictions or waiting periods on existing income support payments  Not to proceed with proposed changes to the HECS-HELP study assist scheme and Review current rates of working age payments against the poverty line  Establish a national consultation process to inform minimum levels for social security payments in  Urgently review the amount of funding allocated to Financial Crisis and Material Aid  Establish national and regional rental indexes to track the increase of rent prices  Develop National Urban Planning Guidelines ensuring that new and existing developments have access to public transport, health, education and other services.  Develop National Planning Guidelines ensuring all new housing developments meet minimum targets for affordable, public and social housing  Increase funding for targeted programs that increase employment access and support people experiencing long-term unemployment back into the workforce Women's Health West The full report is available at:

Senate Inquiry into Domestic Violence in Australia (2014)
On 26 June 2014, the Commonwealth Government initiated an inquiry into Domestic Violence in Australia guided
by the following terms of reference:
i. The prevalence and impact of domestic violence in Australia as it affects all Australians and, in particular,
as it affects women living with a disability, and women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds ii. The factors contributing to the present levels of domestic violence
iii. The adequacy of policy and community responses to domestic violence
iv. The effects of policy decisions regarding housing, legal services, and women‘s economic independence on
the ability of women to escape domestic violence v. How the Federal Government can best support, contribute to and drive the social, cultural and behavioural
shifts required to eliminate violence against women and their children The final report is scheduled for release on 2 March 2015. For further information see:
WHW's submission to the inquiry is available at:
Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (2014)
In May 2014, the Commonwealth Government launched Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's
Safety (ANROWS) as an initiative under Australia's National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their
Children 2010-202
2. ANROWS is funded jointly by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to
undertake research aimed at addressing the high rates of domestic, family and sexual violence against women and
their children and improving outcomes for victims. The Victorian Coalition Government has committed $1.3 million
over three years.

ANROWS has invited researchers from across Australia to apply for grants under itsby 11 July 2014. Applications can be submitted by researchers from academic and research institutions, non-
government organisations and community organisations. For further information se
Racial Discrimination Act 1975 – Bill to reform Sec 18C rejected (2014)
Changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 have been rejected. This decision was informed by
4100 submissions to Attorney-General George Brandis' draft changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, with more
than 76 per cent opposed to the proposal,
Section 18C makes it unlawful to participate in a public act or publish material that is reasonably likely to ‘offend,
insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people' because of their race, colour or national or ethnic
origin. Changes discussed include, repealing section 18C in its entirety or amending the section to remove the
words ‘offend' and ‘insult'. Proposed changes have been strongly opposed by human rights groups who emphasise
the importance of maintaining a civil avenue of redress for race-base abuse and vilification in online and offline
public spaces.
WHW joined over 150 other organisations in endorsing an open letter to the Attorney General opposing the
proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. The letter is included in the Human Right's Law Centre's
media pack that is available at:
WHW also wrote to the Attorney General to provide feedback on the law reform bill. Our submission is available
Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse closes (2014)
From January 2014, the National Centre for Excellence will take over responsibility for national research on violence against women. The Australian Domestic Violence Clearinghouse has provided a number of important services during its 13 year of operations, including research, issues and stakeholder papers, webinars and networking activities. Women's Health West
Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children (2013)
In July 2013, former Commonwealth Minister for the Status of Women, the Honourable Julie Collins MP, and the
Victorian Minister for Community Services, the Honourable Mary Wooldridge MP launched a new Melbourne based,
independent foundation to raise awareness and engage the community in action to prevent violence against women
and their children. The Victorian Government will allocate $6.5 million to the foundation over the next two years,
and the Federal Government will invest an additional $3 million from 2014.
Human Rights Commission Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review (2013)
In June 2013, the Australian Human Rights Commission was asked by the Federal Government to undertake
research into the prevalence and nature of discrimination in relation to women who are pregnant at work and people
returning to work after parental leave. The Commission found that half of Australian women have experienced
discrimination in the workplace during their pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work and that a high number
of women had to leave the workforce or change their employer.
WHW submitted to the National Review, calling attention to the persistent stereotypes and expectations that
produce gendered differences in the prevalence, nature and consequences of discrimination related to pregnancy
and caring responsibilities. WHW submission is available at:
Productivity Commission Inquiry into Childcare and Childhood Learning (2013)
In November 2013, the Commonwealth Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake an inquiry
into future options for childcare and early childhood learning. The inquiry will assess the contributions that access
to high quality affordable childcare can make to:
1. Increased participation in the workforce, particularly for women 2. Optimising children's learning and development.
The terms of reference for the inquiry also considers how models of childcare support parents with diverse work
and study commitments, and families who experience significant disadvantage. Recommendations will be
contained by existing budget parameters, as no additional funding will be allocated. Final report is scheduled for
release in October 2014. For more information se
ABS Personal Safety Survey (2012)

In December 2013 the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the results from the 2012 Personal Safety Survey. The survey collected data about the nature and extent of violence experienced by women and men since the age of 15, including their experience of violence in the past 12 months. Key survey findings include:  One in three Australian women (34 per cent) have experienced physical violence since the age of 15  One in five Australian women (19 per cent) have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15  One in four Australian women (25 per cent) have experienced emotional abuse by a partner since the age  One in five Australian women (19 per cent) have experienced stalking in their lifetime.
While data relating to emotional abuse is a new addition to the survey, the rates of physical and sexual violence,
and stalking have not changed significantly since the release of the 2005 Personal Safety Survey. The complete
survey is available at:

WHW summary of the 2012 survey available at:
Wage increases for aged care and childcare workers rescinded (2013)
Proposed wage increases for aged care and childcare workers have been withdrawn. Following the 2013 federal
election, the Coalition Government announced that it would not be allocating the $300 million set aside for
childcare workers or the $1.2 billion for age care workers.

Federal Office for the Not-For-Profit Sector and the Social Inclusion Unit (2013)
On 18 September 2013 the Social Inclusion Unit and the Office for the Not-for-Profit Sector were disbanded, as one
of the first decisions made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott MP after he was sworn in by the Governor-General. Social
Women's Health West inclusion, non-profit sector and volunteering were dropped as matters dealt with by the Department of Prime Minister
and Cabinet in the new Administrative Arrangement Orders. While some of the functions of these bodies will be
incorporated into other federal portfolios, there is also indication that the Coalition is interested in enabling NGOs
and community services to take a greater role in responding to social exclusion. Details on how work in this area
would be supported are not currently available. The Minister for Social Services, thewill
have responsibility for the community sector, volunteering and philanthropy. The Minister for Human
Services,will take responsibility for service delivery policy.
Bill to abolish Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (2013)
In December 2013, Commonwealth Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews announced that a new Centre for
Excellence will be established in place of the outgoing Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)
and other functions of the commission would be delegated to the Australian Tax Office. In March 2014, the Australian
Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (Repeal) (No 1) Bill 2014
was referred to the Senate Economics Legislation
Committee. In their report the committee recommended that the bill be passed. For further information see:

Federal Charities Act (2013)
The new Charities Act 2013, which defines charity and charitable purpose for the purposes of all Commonwealth
legislation commenced 1 January 2014. A nine month delay on the commencement of the Act was initially proposed
by the Coalition Government and incorporated into the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013.
This decision was met with concern from the NGO sector that there would be an attempt to scale back the definitions
of the Act, particularly provisions for advocacy work. However, the delay was not accepted, as the original text of
the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 did not pass in the Senate. The new Commonwealth
definition for charity and charitable purpose applies to entities that are not-for-profit, for the public benefit (Division
2 of the Act) and fulfil one or more of the following purposes:
 Advancing health  Advancing education  Advancing social or public welfare  advancing religion  Advancing culture;  Promoting reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance between groups of individuals that are in Australia  Promoting or protecting human rights;  Advancing the security or safety of Australia or the Australian public;  Preventing or relieving the suffering of animals;  Advancing the natural environment;  Any other purpose beneficial to the general public that may reasonably be regarded as analogous to, or within the spirit of, any of the purposes mentioned above  Promoting or opposing a change to any matter established by law, policy or practice in the Commonwealth, a State, a Territory or another country to advance or protect public interests
The Act also includes important qualifying provisions for Indigenous organisations that receive, hold or manage
benefits that relate to native title and land management. The full text of the Act is available at:

Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex
Bill (2013)
In June 2013, the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill
was passed by federal parliament. The amendments will establish new legal protections in all areas outlined
in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, marking significant milestone for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex,
and transgender people. The Act now sets out consistent national definitions for ‘sexual orientation', ‘gender
identity', and ‘intersex status'. It also extends prohibition of discrimination on the existing ground of ‘marital status'
to ‘marital or relationship status' to provide protection from discrimination to same-sex de facto couples.
Existing exemptions granted to religious organisations that provide Commonwealth-funded aged care services will
be removed. This amendment means that elderly LGBQI people will have greater access to aged care services
and will be legally protected from discrimination. For further information see:

Women's Health West Australian Education Bill (2013)
On 26 June 2013, the Australian Education Bill 2013 was passed through both houses of parliament, establishing
the legislative framework needed to support the reforms proposed in the Gonski report. The Bill establishes a new
funding framework for Australian schools and sets out national standards for participating states, including
adherence with the National Plan for School Improvement. Under the new arrangements additional funding will be
allocated to 875,000 students from low-income families and a further 31,900 Indigenous students.
PBS listing of RU486 (medication abortion) approved (2013)
In June 2013, on the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, the federal government
approved the listing of mifepristone and misoprostol in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for medication
termination of early pregnancy. This medication offers an alternative to surgical termination of pregnancy for women
in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Government subsidy of mifepristone through the PBS is planned to redress
the current inequities in abortion service delivery, particularly for women in regional, rural and remote areas. WHW
provided a submission to the committee advocating for the inclusion of mifepristone and misoprostol in the PBS.
Points of interest: As the availability of medical abortion increases it is important to monitor how it is rolled out,
including objections from pharmacists and GPs in dispensing RU486 and access to appropriate hospital-based
treatments if women have significant bleeding or other complications. It is important to ensure that appropriate
support and the alterative of surgical termination of pregnancy is always available for women, particularly young
women who might not recognise that they are pregnant in the first seven weeks. It is also important to note that
while medical abortion is presented as a more affordable alternative, private GPs face additional charges from
Australia's major medical insurers which are then passed onto women. This means that some women will pay a
significantly higher cost to access treatment associated with administering the subsidised medical abortion drug.
Funding for national women's alliances (2013-2016)
In Australia there are six national women's alliances that each focus on distinct portfolios, such as promoting
improved gender equality, violence against women and their children, and adversity faced by immigrant and refugee
women. These six alliances will receive $4.8 million in federal government funding until 2016, to continue advising
government on priority concerns for women. The renewed funding followed an independent review of the alliances.
Further information at:
Fair Work Amendment Act (2013)
In June 2013, the federal parliament passed amendments to the Fair Work Act, which broaden the right of workers
to request flexible working arrangements. The reforms are informed by submissions made to the Fair Work Act
review, which argued that the right to request provisions should be extended. Current legislation limits the right to
request flexible hours to parents who are responsible for a child under school age or a child with a disability aged
less than 18 years. The new changes will see the right to request flexible working arrangements, extended to:
 Workers with caring responsibilities  Employees who are parents or who have responsibility for the care of a child of school age  Employees with a disability  Mature-age employees  Workers experiencing family violence  Workers providing personal care, support and assistance to a member of their immediate family or household who are experiencing family violence
Under the previous conditions employers were able to refuse a request on reasonable business grounds, which will
remain under the new amendments. The government will provide a guide for employers and employees about what
constitutes ‘reasonable business grounds' and will finalise the details of the extended provisions in consultation with
relevant sectors and communities of interest. For more information see:

Points of interest: Given that women undertake the majority of caring responsibilities, extending the right to request
flexible working arrangements for employees in caring roles presents important implications for women. Provisions
for employees experiencing family violence will also have significant implications for women, given that economic
considerations including job security is important in supporting women's capacity to leave a violent relationship.
Women's Health West However, the right of employers to refuse requests made upon ‘reasonable business grounds' will largely determine
how these new provisions for employees are translated into practice.
Federal Parliament Inquiry into the Social Determinants of Health (2013)
In March 2013, the Senate Committee for Community Affairs released their inquiry report into Australia's response
to the World Health Organisation's Commission on Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) report Closing the gap
within a generation
. The report makes a clear distinction between policies that focus on the choices and behaviour
of individuals and those that target the structural context in which personal choices are made. It also outlines the
extent to which the Commonwealth is adopting a SDoH approach, and the scope for improving awareness of the
SDoH in the community, within government programs and among health and community service providers. The
Senate Committee recommends that:
1. The government adopt the WHO report and commit to action on the SDoH, particularly in relevant areas such as education, employment, housing, family and social security 2. Administrative procedures are established to ensure consideration of the SDoH in all relevant policies 3. Responsibility for the SDoH sits with one agency, with a mandate to address issues across portfolios 4. The National Health and Medical Research Council give greater emphasis in its grant allocation priorities to research on public health and the SDoH 5. Annual progress reports are submitted to parliament
Points of interest: The report's attention to the health impact of policies outside the health sector provides strong
support for WHW's approach to health promotion and our efforts to redress structural inequity. If the
recommendation to prioritise domestic research on the SDoH is taken up, this will enhance the evidence base for
our work. It was disappointing that the section of the report highlighting the key SDoH did not name gender as a
determinant, and that the report as a whole gave limited consideration to the unequal distribution of health inequities.
The WHO framework states that health inequity and the unequal distribution of the SDoH is driven by intersecting
social hierarchies of gender, race, sexuality, class and ability. WHW will highlight this point in any submissions
regarding future Australian policy initiatives in this area.
National Centre of Excellence to Reduce Violence against Women (2013)
The federal government in collaboration with states and territories has funded a new National Centre of Excellence
to Reduce Violence against Women. The centre will develop a national research agenda to improve policy and
service planning in the prevention, early intervention and tertiary response to violence against women. The federal
government will provide an initial $1 million to establish the centre and 1.5 million for each following year. The
Victorian Coalition government has committed more than $1 million over three years. The centre will be operational
from the 1 January 2013 and will be located in Sydney. Professor Anne Edwards has been announced as the chair
of the new centre of excellence.
Points of interest: The establishment of this centre is an important and timely initiative. Research that builds the
evidence base around primary prevention initiatives will be important in guiding good practice in the prevention
sector. The work of the centre is also likely to further support the rationale for primary prevention work, which is
important given the current fiscal environment and 2012 funding cuts already received in Victoria to integrated
health promotion.

Federal Parliament Inquiry into the Social Determinants of Health (2013)
In March 2013, the Senate Committee for Community Affairs released their inquiry report into Australia's response
to the World Health Organisation's Commission on Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) report Closing the gap
within a generation
. The report makes a clear distinction between policies that focus on the choices and behaviour
of individuals and those that target the structural context in which personal choices are made. It also outlines the
extent to which the Commonwealth is adopting a SDoH approach, and the scope for improving awareness of the
SDoH in the community, within government programs and among health and community service providers. The
Senate Committee recommends that:
1. The government adopt the WHO report and commit to action on the SDoH, particularly in relevant areas such as education, employment, housing, family and social security 2. Administrative procedures are established to ensure consideration of the SDoH in all relevant policies 3. Responsibility for the SDoH sits with one agency, with a mandate to address issues across portfolios Women's Health West 4. The National Health and Medical Research Council give greater emphasis in its grant allocation priorities to research on public health and the SDoH 5. Annual progress reports are submitted to parliament
Points of interest: The report's attention to the health impact of policies outside the health sector provides strong
support for WHW's approach to health promotion and our efforts to redress structural inequity. If the
recommendation to prioritise domestic research on the SDoH is taken up, this will enhance the evidence base for
our work. It was disappointing that the section of the report highlighting the key SDoH did not name gender as a
determinant, and that the report as a whole gave limited consideration to the unequal distribution of health inequities.
The WHO framework states that health inequity and the unequal distribution of the SDoH is driven by intersecting
social hierarchies of gender, race, sexuality, class and ability. WHW will highlight this point in any submissions
regarding future Australian policy initiatives in this area.

CHA-NATSEM study – The Cost of Inaction on the Social Determinants of Health (2012)
In June 2012, The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling produced a research report on behalf of
Catholic Health Australia titled The Cost of Inaction on the Social Determinants of Health. The report is the first of
its kind that attempts to gauge the impact of government inaction of the social determinants of health. The findings
suggest that if the World Health Organisation's recommendations for Australia relating to the social determinants
of health were actioned by federal and state governments across a range of sectors:
 500,000 Australians could avoid suffering a chronic illness  170,000 extra Australians could enter the workforce, generating $8 billion in extra earnings  Annual savings of $4 billion in welfare support payments could be made; 60,000 fewer people would need to be admitted to hospital annually, resulting in savings of $2.3 billion in hospital expenditure  5.5 million fewer Medicare services would be needed each year, resulting in annual savings of $273 million  5.3 million fewer Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme scripts would be filled each year, resulting in annual savings of $184.5 million each year.
Report available at:

Points of interest: This report strongly supports WHW prioritisation of primary prevention and health promotion
activities that work to redress social determinants. In the report, health inequities were viewed through a number of
different socio-economic indicators – household income, education housing tenure and social connectedness – with
all data disaggregated by sex. However, there is limited consideration of gender and its implication on health
inequities, despite gender being recognised by WHO as a social determinant.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (2013)
On 21 March 2013, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Bill 2013 was passed in both houses of
parliament. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is designed to support the independence and wellbeing of
people with a disability, including those who experience mental illness, and their right to social and economic
participation. The estimated annual cost of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, when it reaches full
implementation is $22.2 billion, providing coverage to 460,000 people across Australia. Under this new framework
there will be a shift from block-funded disability services to funding attached to individual support plans. The first
phase of the scheme began 1 July 2013. Victoria's Barwon region launch site includes local government areas of
Greater Geelong, Colac-Otway, Queenscliff and the Surf Coast Shire. The 2014-15 budget confirmed that
Government will provide a total of $19.3 billion to DisabilityCare Australia over seven years from 2012-13,
inclusive of the redirection of existing disability funding. For further information se

Points of interest:e have also raised concern that if no block funding
is available to community sector organisations, there will be a decline in programs which focus on social support
and advocacy.

Marriage Amendment (Marriage Equality) Bill (last updated 2015)

On 1 June 2015, the Marriage Amendment (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015 was tabled for federal parliament. The legislation is before House of Representatives and there is currently dispute about whether this will be decided by Women's Health West plebiscite, referendum or parliamentary vote. The Marriage Amendment Bill 2015 seeks to define marriage as a
union of two people; clarify that ministers of religion are not bound to solemnise marriage by any other law; remove
the prohibition of the recognition of same sex marriages solemnised in a foreign country; and include a regulation
making power so that consequential amendments can be made to other Acts. Section 88EA of the bill permits the
recognition of a marriage solemnised in a foreign country regardless of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity
or intersex status of the parties to that marriage.
Telstra policy wavering silent line fee for family violence victims/survivors
On the 27 February 2013, Telstra announced it will be introducing a new policy in which the fee for silent telephone
numbers will be wavered for individuals who have a protection order or are a client or a community organisation
that provides services to individuals who are ‘facing a security threat'.
Points of interest: The introduction of a Telstra policy that waves the silent number fee for victims/survivors of
domestic violence wil help to support women's safety. The Telstra policy is stil being reviewed. Hence, what it will
look like upon implementation is yet to be determined.

Call for a national sexual and reproductive health strategy

Australia remains without a national sexual and reproductive health strategy that provides a comprehensive overarching evidence-based framework for research, policy and program development, implementation and evaluation. In recent years, there have been calls from the Australian Public Health Association and the Australian Sexual Health and Family Planning Association, among other agencies, for a national strategy as evident in the background paper Time for a National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy for Australia. In November 2012, at the first Australian National Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference, delegates made a commitment to the Melbourne Proclamation. The proclamation advances several goals, including the improvement of health literacy and education; developing an effective workforce; making fertility control services accessible and affordable; promoting lifelong sexual and reproductive wellbeing; and coordinating strategies at primary care level. A new proclamation was discussed at the second Australian National Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference (2014) entitled Advancing sexual and reproductive wellbeing in Australia: the Melbourne Proclamation and is available at: Second Action Plan 2013-2016 – Moving Ahead – Of the National Plan to Reduce
Violence against Women and their Children 2010- 2022
Commonwealth, state and territory governments are working together, with the community to implement
the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 (the National Plan). This is the
Second Action Plan of the National Plan. It will run from 2013 to 2016 and contains 26 practical actions that all
governments agree are critical if we are to move ahead in improving women's safety. The Second Action Plan will
build on the first by increasing community involvement in actions that will prevent violence against women and their
children. It focuses on women and communities that have diverse experiences of violence, on strengthening and
integrating services and systems, and on improving responses to hold perpetrators across the country to account
for their violent behaviour. Governments will also continue to work together to build and improve the evidence base
around violence against women and their children, and to bring together and disseminate research that can inform
policy and practice.

National Anti-Racism Strategy (2012-2015)

The National Anti-Racism Strategy was launched on 24 August 2012 and will be implemented between July 2012
and June 2015. The aim of the strategy is ‘To promote a clear understanding in the Australian community of what
racism is, and how it can be prevented and reduced'. The three key objectives of the strategy are to:
 Create awareness of racism and how it affects individuals and the broader community,  Identify, promote and build on good practice initiatives to prevent and reduce racism, and  Empower communities and individuals to take action to prevent and reduce racism and to seek redress WHW attended a Melbourne consultation and submitted a response to the National Anti-Racism Strategy on 11 May 2012. Our submission recommends that the strategy is endorsed by COAG; that redressing racism in employment, education, housing and service access must be prioritised as areas for action; and that gender-specific Women's Health West programs that build the capacity of communities to take action on race-based discrimination are included in the
national anti-racism strategy. Submission available at:
Points of interest: The National Anti-Racism Strategy outlines a three year implementation framework, however
funding attached to support this implementation of the strategy is not specified. Importantly the strategy identifies
redressing systemic racism as a key high-level action, identifying education, workplaces and government service
provision as key priority settings for action. Despite this, the strategy does not acknowledge the intersections
between gender and racism, nor does it outline any gender-specific programs or strategies.
Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Constitution (2012-
On 19 January 2012, the expert panel on constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians delivered the
Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Constitution report. Tasked with the role of advising
the Gillard government on options for Indigenous constitutional recognition, the expert panel's proposed Bil would
recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as Australia's people; acknowledge the need to secure the
advancement of Indigenous people; and remove racially discriminatory sections of the Constitution. The Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Recognition Bill 2012 passed in both houses of parliament on 27 March 2013, setting a
two year timeframe for government to call a national referendum on the proposed constitutional changes.
The Labor Government was originally planning for a 2013 referendum, held on or before the federal election, but
this has now been postponed to allow more time to raise community awareness. During the 2013 federal election
campaign, Tony Abbot promised to devote his efforts to recognising indigenous Australians in the Constitution within
the current term of parliament. As of June 2014, no official schedule has been set for the referendum. The
Recognise movement has been taking action across Australia to ensure that Indigenous constitutional recognition
remains on the government agenda. For further information se

Indigenous Australians, as it is an important step in the reconciliation process and in eliminating racial
discrimination. Such change will also work to advance the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples and ensure
greater protection for their culture, languages and heritage.

National Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020

The National Disability Strategy outlines the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) 10 year policy framework
to drive reforms in mainstream and specialist disability services to improve outcome for people with a disability,
their families and careers. The strategy consists of six key policy areas, which include:
1. Inclusive and accessible communities
2. Rights protection, justice and legislation
3. Economic security
4. Personal and community support
5. Learning and skills
6. Health and wellbeing

For further information se

Points of interest: Importantly, one of the principles guiding this policy is equality between women and men. The
policy outlines key indicators of gender inequity that impact on the health, wellbeing and safety of women living
with a disability – e.g. lower rates of paid employment, poorer economic outcomes and greater risk of intimate
partner violence, sexual assault and other forms of violence against women. The policy directions specifically
relating to women with a disability include a commitment to increased services including crisis support for women
affected by violence and increasing breast and cervical screening rates.

A National Approach to Reducing Homelessness (2008-present)
In December 2008 the Federal Government released a government white paper on homelessness, The Road
. This strategy has two key goals that guide the national long-term response to homelessness, which are to
halve homelessness by 2020 and to offer supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who need it by 2020. In
2009, Commonwealth, state and territory governments signed onto the National Partnership Agreement on
Women's Health West Homelessness 2009-2013 (NPAH) and committed $6.2 billion over five years to advance goals set out in the white
In late 2013, the federal government announced a re-commitment to the NPAH for another year, which is welcome
news for 2014-2015. However, a long-term sustainable funding program is required to bring ongoing certainty.
Further information available at:

Points of interest: According to a survey by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), nine out of ten
not-for-profit organisations have no guarantee of Federal Government funding for key services beyond June this
year, with more than 60 per cent letting staff go due to the uncertainty and a third delaying filling staff vacancies.
Only 13 per cent of organisations had all their funding agreed. While WHW did not participate in the survey, we did
delay filling two recently-vacated positions that rely on federal funding. The interim funding agreement only allows
us to fill these positions on a 12 month contract, reducing job security for staff members.
National Women's Health Policy (2010)
The government's National Women's Health Policy 2010 aims to improve the health and wellbeing of all women in
Australia, especially those at greatest risk of poor health. The policy adopts a dual priority approach that recognises
the importance of redressing immediate and future health challenges, while also challenging structural inequities
that impact on women's health and wel being. The policy identifies four women's health priorities:
1. Prevention of chronic diseases through the control of risk factors
2. Mental health and wellbeing
3. Sexual and reproductive health
4. Healthy ageing
The five health goals of the policy are to: highlight the significance of gender as a key determinant of women's
health and wellbeing; acknowledge that women's health needs differ according to their life stage; prioritise women
with the highest risk of poor health; ensure the health system is responsive to all women, with a clear focus on
illness prevention and health promotion; and support effective and collaborative research, data collection,
monitoring, evaluation and knowledge transfer to advance the evidence base on women's health. Further
information at:

Points of interest: The policy, as yet, has no funding allocation nor has there been an acknowledgement of the
role that women's health services play in its implementation. The policy builds on the first National Women's Health
Policy: Advancing Women's Health in Australia
, which was released in 1989. The first national women's health
policy was more progressive than its successor, as it is clearly focused on putting women's health, safety and
wellbeing on the political agenda to improve the status of women. For example, the first national women's health
policy had seven priority health issues - including violence against women; occupational health and safety; and the
health effects of sex-role stereotyping on women.
National Male Health Policy (2010)
The National Male Health Policy: Building on the Strengths of Australian Males provides a framework for improving
the health of all Australian men and achieving equal health outcomes for population groups most at risk of poor
health. The policy has nine supporting documents and six priority areas for action:
1. Optimal health outcomes
2. Health equity between population groups of males
3. Improved health at difference life stages
4. A focus on preventive health, particularly regarding chronic disease and injury
5. Building a strong evidence base on male health and using it to inform policies, programs and initiatives
6. Improved access to health care through initiatives and tailored healthcare services, particularly for male
population groups at risk of poor health
Further information at:
Points of interest: A total of $16.7 mil ion over four years will be invested in men's health programs that are
designed to support the policy, such as men's sheds, health promotion materials and a national longitudinal study
Women's Health West on men's health. Despite evidence that shows Australian men's violence against women is both pervasive and prevalent, the plan does not commit to redressing the health implications of men's violence against women, children or other men. The supporting document, Social Determinants and Key Actions Supporting Male Health, has a significant focus on men as victims of violence with no comparable focus on women's victimisation. There is therefore an inference that rates of intimate partner violence by women and men are equivalent. Women's Health West Victorian Government

Outcomes of the Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016)
On 29 March 2016, Women's Health West welcomed the release of the Royal Commission into Family Violence
report findings. We congratulate Premier Daniel Andrews and his government on their commitment to implement
all 227 recommendations outlined in the report, and the opposition's commitment to bi-partisan action.
Women's Health West CEO, Dr Robyn Gregory, noted a number of strong recommendations in the report that will assist the sector to build on and strengthen existing work in providing an integrated response to women and their children who experience family violence. She particularly welcomed the recommendations of strengthening the service sector's prevention work by al ocating increased funds to preventing violence before it occurs, although was disappointed that only three recommendations focused on prevention out of 227 recommendations. As part of the Government's pre-election commitment to implement all the Commission's recommendations, the Andrew's Government is establishing a Family Violence Steering Committee to oversee the service system reforms. The Andrew's Government has also provided details of immediate upfront funding, including:  $152.5 million to begin a housing blitz to shelter more victims - building and redeveloping family violence refuges, expanding crisis accommodation, and rapidly funding up to 130 new social housing homes. Victims will also be kept safe at home through innovative options such as help accessing the private rental market.  $122.0 million to keep children safe from harm - expanding a new program that gives intensive support for children in their own home. The Government will also increase family services and counselling, and continue to reform the child protection system.  $103.9 million for specialist family violence services such as crisis support and counselling to cope with unprecedented demand.  $61.6 million in family violence prevention - includes expanding the Respectful Relationships program, introducing Victoria's first Gender Equality Strategy, and helping local communities play their part in preventing violence.  $25.7 million to work with Aboriginal communities, including prevention and early intervention programs, new approaches to dispute resolution, and expanding programs for Aboriginal women.  $23.9 million to begin reforming the justice system; including expanding legal services for victims, more men's behaviour change programs and developing ways to improve victims' experience at court.  $32.5 million to develop a new system for safeguarding and sharing information between services so that victims are kept safe from family violence.  $19 million for a new type of family violence navigator to guide victims through every step of crisis and recovery, as recommended by the Luke Batty Coronial inquest.  $15.4 million to establish an independent monitor to hold the Government to account as the recommendations of the Royal Commission are implemented. Funds will also be used to plan for a new coordination agency, and to support the Victim Survivors Advisory Council, Family Violence Steering Committee and consultation process as the system is overhauled.  $10.4 million to build the capacity of the family violence workforce and support other workers to best identify and respond to family violence. This also includes funding to further develop and embed the Family Violence Index.  $5 million to begin work on rolling out 17 safety and support hubs recommended by the Royal Commission. In addition, the Government will work closely with victims and survivors, and the people and organisations that help
them, to develop a comprehensive 10-year Victorian Family Violence Plan, which will be delivered later this year.
Victorian Gender Equality Strategy (2016)
Women's Health West would like to congratulate the Victorian government on its commitment to achieving gender
equity in Victoria via the development of the state's first ever Gender Equality Strategy. We deem this a significant
milestone for the advancement of equality, safety and justice for Victorian women and girls. Women's Health West's
written submission provides twenty-three recommendations to support and strengthen the effective design and
implementation of the strategy. Our submission also received endorsement from our valued partner, cohealth and
state and regional women's health services. The submission is available at:

Women's Health West WHW also wrote the Victorian government a letter on behalf of the Preventing Violence Together partnership and
endorsed the Women's Health Association of Victoria's (WHAV) submission, as wel as other state-wide and
regional women's health services submissions.
Tough New Sex Offender Laws to Protect Victorians (2016)
Under new legislation introduced into Victorian Parliament on 22 March 2016, community safety will be of high
importance when the Parole Board and courts make decisions about the supervision and management of serious
sex offenders. The Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Amendment (Community Safety) Bill
1. Introduce a mandatory minimum term of 12 months imprisonment for intentional or reckless breaches of certain supervision order conditions 2. Extend the period of time Victoria Police can hold serious sex offenders without charge from 10 to 72 3. Expand the conditions of supervision orders for serious sex offenders to include a ban on violent offences 4. Provide police with new search and seizure powers when supervising a serious sex offender.
New Date for Victorian State Budget (2016)
Treasurer Tim Pallas announced on 21 March that the 2016-2017 Victorian State Budget will be brought forward to
Wednesday 27 April 2016. This will see the Victorian Budget released one week before the Federal Budget, which
is now being handed down on 3 May 2016.

Adoption Equality for Chidlren of Same-Sex Couples (2015)
In December 2015, legislation to remove discrimination against children of same-sex couples from Victorian
adoption laws was passed. However religious adoption agencies have retained the right to refuse to facilitate
adoption arrangements with same-sex couples. The Labor government attempted to remove the power for faith-
based agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples but this was blocked by the Coalition. Adoption agency
CatholicCare was the only faith-based group to oppose same-sex adoption.

Safe Access Zones Bill (2015)
On 27 November 2015 the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zone) Bill 2015 formally passed
the Victorian Legislative Council without amendment. This legislation creates a 150-metre zone around hospitals,
GP clinics and health services that perform abortions, where it will be an offence to engage in behaviour that
harasses or intimidates women seeking to access an abortion. The legislation will protect the rights of women to
medical privacy by making it illegal to film people without consent within the safe access zone, or for anyone to
impede access to a footpath, road or vehicle without a reasonable excuse within the zone.
Women's Health West commends the Victorian Government for introducing this important legislation that is
fundamental to good public health practice and supporting women's reproductive health rights. We provided letters
of support to three Upper House members seeking their help to support the Public Health and Wellbeing
Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015
which can be found here:

Home and Community Care service provision (2015)
The Victorian Government has signed Bilateral Agreements with the Commonwealth outlining how and when the
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will roll out in Victoria. This agreement includes the transfer of HACC
services for people aged 65 and over (50 and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) to the
Commonwealth for funding and management from 1 July 2016. The Department of Health and Human Services will
work with service providers up until 1 July 2016 transferring any services provided for older people, to a
Commonwealth Department of Social Services funding agreement. At this stage it appears that Women's Health
West's clients are unlikely to be transferred to the Commonwealth, or be eligible for the NDIS given that the majority
of our clients are under 65 years old. More information can be found here:
Women's Health West Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan (2015-2019)
The Victorian Government has released the new Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2015-2019, which will guide the
state's efforts in public health and prevention. The plan highlights the need to reduce the prevalence of family
violence as a leading preventable contributor to ill health, disability and premature death in young women aged 15-
44. Women's Health West was very pleased to see this and that our other two priority areas – improving mental
health and improving sexual and reproductive health- are included in the six key areas for action after many years
of advocacy. The priority areas in the plan are:
 Healthier eating and active living  Tobacco free living  Reducing harmful alcohol and drug use  Improving mental health  Preventing violence and injury  Improving sexual health and reproductive health Point of interest: WHW provided a written submission in response to this Plan on 3 July 2015. This submission
recommended strengthening the equity focus of the Plan and detailed the importance of including objectives
and priorities focussed on the social determinants of health as well as health and gender inequities.
submission is available at:

Open letter in support of women's rights to choose (2015)
In October Women's Health West was one of 40 signatory organisations to the letter addressed to the Premier,
Minister for Health and Minister for Women written in support of Victoria's current abortion laws. This letter stated
that we do not support further restrictions on when an abortion can be provided, nor changes to section 8 which
relates to the obligations of registered practitioners who have conscientious objections, or any other part of this or
any other Act that would reduce women's access to safe, legal and accessible abortion services. The letter can be
found here:

Victoria's next 10-year mental health strategy (2015)

In September, Women's Health West welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback to Victoria's next 10-year
mental health strategy.
We commend the Victorian government on the development of this strategy. To strengthen
the strategy's capacity to optimise the mental health and wellbeing of all Victorians, WHW recommended a stronger
commitment to gender equity and the social determinants that drive good mental health, as well as promoting a
society where Victorians live free from violence and discrimination through effective primary prevention, early
intervention and response efforts. Women's Health West's submission was endorsed by Women with Disabilities
Victoria, Women's Health Victoria, Women's Health in the North, Women's Health in the South East, and Women's
Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West. The full submission can be found here:
Health 2040 (2015)
Women's Health Victoria provided a submission to the Department of Health and Human Services on the 25 year
road map for strengthening the Victorian health system which was endorsed by Women's Health West. Goals
identified in this submission include; universal access to health services, redressing the social determinants of poor
and unequal health, gender equity as a key driver of better health outcomes for women and recognising and
strengthening the essential role played by women's health services in responding to the specific health risks women
This submission can be found here:

Inquiry into portability of long service leave entitlements for Victorian workers (2015)

In August, Women's Health West supported the principle of portable long service leave and was pleased that the
Committee will examine existing portable long service leave schemes, the financial and economic impacts of
portable long service leave arrangements and whether alternative mechanisms could better meet the objectives of
such a scheme. Our recommendations proposed a cost neutral model that ensures against a loss of funds to support
service delivery, that funds be provided to support additional costs of portability, that a business impact assessment
and consultation is undertaken prior to implementation, that the model be administratively simple and that it includes
Women's Health West
- Revenge
Victoria to introduce family violence leave for public servants (2015)
Tens of thousands of public sector workers will for the first time be entitled to family violence leave to help survivors
of family violence maintain stable employment. Family Violence Prevention Minister Fiona Richardson states that
this will send a strong message that survivors will be will supported in their workplace and need not suffer in silence.
This new clause, announced by the government and Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner
Kate Jenkins will start in September 2015.
Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into abuse within Disability Services (2015)
With the transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to commence in 2016 during a three year
rollout period, this is a timely Inquiry into abuse with disability services. This inquiry provides the opportunity to
assess what safeguards are currently in place and to inquire into their effectiveness for future prevention of abuse
in disability services.
Point of interest: WHW welcomed the opportunity to provide evidence and recommendations for the Inquiry
into Abuse in Disability Services and commend the Victorian Government for initiating this inquiry. Our nine
recommendations included a call for the collection of sex-disaggregated data regarding incidence of abuse
within disability services and a state-wide gender audit of disability services. Additional recommendations
included examination of the evidence base for preventing violence against women for preventing abuse within
the disability service system and funding for disability service providers to implement workplace primary
prevention strategies. The full submission can be found here:

Victorian Residential Tenancies Review (2015)
In July 2015, the state government released a consultation paper as part of a three-year review to move towards
fairer, safer and affordable housing for all Victorians. A public consultation website has been set up to encourage
community engagement during this review. All Victorians are encouraged to have their say at

Points of interest: WHW provided feedback and recommendations to the Laying the Groundwork –
Consultation Paper
for the Residential Tenancies Act 2007. Our eight recommendations included a call for sex-
disaggregated data pertaining to tenancy and embedding gender-responsive principles in the new Act, the
development of a long-term affordable housing strategy, a dedicated supply of low cost housing to means
tested households, protections for tenants so they are not discriminated against due to factors unrelated to
tenancy, improved measures to sustain tenancies and prevent homelessness for women who can safely stay
in their housing, and establishing a rapid rehousing program to assist women and children escaping family
violence. The submission can be found at:

First Gender and Sexuality Commissioner appointed (2015)
On 15 July Rowena Allen was appointed Victoria's first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner by the Andrews Labor
Government. The Commissioner will champion the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and
intersex (LGBTI) Victorians within the Government. The creation of the role was a Labor election commitment.

Victorian State election and cabinet appointments (2014)
On November 29 2014 Daniel Andrew's Labor Government was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly. With
92 per cent of the vote counted, Labor has taken 47 seats and safely secured a majority government. The Greens
have also secure two seats in Melbourne and Prahran electorates. Appointments in the new Labour Cabinet include
James Merlino Deputy Premier; Martin Pakula as Attorney-General; Jill Hennessy as Minister For Health; Fiona
Richardson as Minister For Women and Minister For the Prevention of Family Violence; Martin Foley as Minister
Women's Health West For Housing, Disability and Ageing, Minister For Mental Health and Minister For Equality; and Jenny Mikakos as Minister For Families and Children Minister For Youth Affairs. Results for the upper house are still being counted, with final results expected to be released on December 17. Based on the current count the ABC predicted the following make up, 14 seat held by the Liberal Party, 13 seats held by Labor, 5 seats held by the Greens, 2 seats held by the Shooters and Fishers Party, 2 seats held by the Nationals, 1 seat held by the Country Alliance, 1 seat held by the Democratic Labour Party, 1 seat held by the Australian Sex Party and 1 seat held by Vote 1 Local Jobs. Carer Action Agenda (2014)
In October 2014 the Victorian Government launched the Carer Action Agenda, recognising the invaluable
contribution carers make to those they care for as well as the wider Victorian community. The Agenda sets out the
actions in three key focus areas to ensure carers are: supported and recognised; have access to information on the
services and supports available to them; and involved in designing the policies and services that affect them. As
part of the Agenda, a further $200,000 in funding is being provided to Carers Victoria for developing more relevant
and useful information on a web portal so carers can find information easily. For further information see:

Victorian Eating Disorders Strategy (2014)
In October 2014 the Victorian Government launched Victoria's first Eating Disorders Strategy and committed $2.14
million of government funding to support education and early intervention projects. The strategy promotes
collaboration across sectors including primary health, mental health and specialist eating disorders services. It sets
out an important commitment to action on the social causes of eating disorders through in whole-of-population
approaches, as well as more targeted policies for at-risk groups, and specific health policies to guide development

Local action plans to prevent violence against women and children (2014)
In August 2014 Women's Health Victoria secured $660,000 in government funding to develop targeted local action
plans to prevent violence against women and children. Nine plans will be developed across Victoria, with input from
regional women's health services, local governments, sports clubs, community health centres, and businesses.

Mental Health Act (2014)
From 1 July 2014, Victoria will transition to a new Mental Health Act. The new Act covers the assessment and
treatment of people with mental illness within the public health system, including prescribed hospitals and public
health services. It places emphasis on the rights of individuals who experience mental illness to make informed and
supported decisions about their treatment plan. Key changes include increased clarity and safeguards in process
for obtaining consent to treatment. The Act also introduces new rights such as the use of advance statements,
having nominated persons to support decision-making, the right to communicate privately with people outside a
mental health service, including lawyers, and to have visitors, and the right to obtain a second opinion. Information
about the Act is available at:

Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Act (2014)
In March 2014, the Victorian Parliament passed amendments to the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). The Crimes
Amendment (Protection of Children) Bill 2014 expands mandatory reporting requirements where an adult over the
age of 18 years has a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed against a child under the age
of 16 years. The related ‘failure to disclose' offence came into force on 27 October 2014. A person will not be
guilty of this new offence if they have a ‘reasonable excuse' for not disclosing the information. Under the Act
reasonable excuses include:
 Fear for safety (for the child, oneself or another person excluding the perpetrator)  Where the information has already been disclosed A group of non-government organisations, including peak bodies and state wide organisations that work in the area of family violence, provided comment on the draft Bill and made a strong stance on the need to recognise the dynamics and complexities of family violence in any new child protection legislation. WHW submitted three papers responding to the draft Bill. Women's Health West Their submission is available at: For

Points of interest:
All WHW staff members have been provided with information and the fact sheets on the new
legislation. Family violence coordinators also met recently to discuss the implications of this legislation on our
work. We have contacted the Footscray Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) to
discuss how we might refer cases of child sexual abuse. We are also developing procedures that will support staff
in reporting child sexual abuse to police. In addition we are exploring what training is needed for all staff working
directly or in immediate contact with children to support them in implementing this legislation.

Victorian Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Action Plan (2014-2018)
In June 2014, the Coalition Government launched the Victorian Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Action Plan
2014-2018. The Action Plan outlines Victoria's long term strategic plan for how the health system can best meet
the health and wellbeing needs of people from refugee backgrounds and asylum seekers. The Action Plan has
been developed in partnership with theThe Action Plan articulates a new model
of refugee and asylum seeker health care for Victoria and will guide the implementation of additional funding of
$22.2 million (over four years). This was announced in the 2013-14 State Budget. The five priority areas for action
identified are:
 Accessibility
 Expertise in refugee health  Service coordination  Cultural responsiveness, and  Health literacy and communication
For more information see:
Points of interest: The development of a strategy that works to redress the social drivers of ill health and disease
would further support WHWs health promotion and community development program currently underway with
refugee background communities. The consultation findings, which identify sexual and reproductive health,
maternal health and infectious diseases is also notable for WHW's sexual and reproductive health portfolios.

Services Connect Partnerships (2014)
The Victorian Government has expanded Services Connect to eight new areas in partnership with the community
sector, including a site in Brimbank-Melton. The eight new Services Connect sites will be supported by $9 million in
government funding to support over 5,000 adults, children and young people over the next two years of the pilot.
Under Services Connect, community service providers will together test models of integrated child and family
support, mental health, alcohol and drug treatment, family violence, housing, disability and Aboriginal specific
services. The Brimbank-Melton Services Connect site will be led by MacKillop Family Services. Implementation will
begin on 31 October 2014.
.For further information see:
Points of interest:
WHW has attended broad partnership meetings for the two areas of western Melbourne that
now make up DHS boundaries, with different lead agencies in each area of Western Melbourne and Brimbank
Melton and participated the submission process via our Western Integrated Family Violence partnership. We have
emphasised the importance of ensuring a voice for smaller agencies, as well as the critical role family violence
plays in informing services connect model given high rates of family violence. We have also clarified that we are
not in a position to contribute EFT to the new Services Connect Partnership given current demands for service

Victorian Social Housing Framework (2014)

Women's Health West On 28 March 2014, the Victorian Government launched New Directions for Social Housing: A Framework for a Strong and Sustainable Future, a long-term framework outlining the future directions of social housing in Victoria. The framework outlines three broad strategic directions:  Invest in safety and community development to make social housing a better place to live  Improve access to services including connections study and work opportunities  Boost investment to renew and upgrade existing public housing
The framework sets out government's commitment of $1.3 billion over five years to upgrade Victoria's social
housing. According to the Community Housing Federation of Victoria, only $149 million of this amount represents
new spending. The remaining amount refers to funds committed in previous state budgets. For further information

As part of the consultations for this framework WHW endorsed a joint statement from the community sector, calling
for ‘accessible, affordable and appropriate' public housing solutions. The statement is available at:

Commonwealth funding to fight human trafficking and slavery (2014)
In March 2014, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan announced an additional $1.44 million in funding for
organisations that work to detect and prevent human trafficking and slavery. The following organisations will each
receive $360,000 over three years under the Grants to Australian Organisations Program: Australian Catholic
Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH), Anti-Slavery Australia, Project Respect and Scarlet Alliance.
For more information see:
Victorian Parliament Inquiry into the Social Inclusion of Victorians with a Disability
In November 2013, the Victorian Parliament's Family and Community Development Committee called for public
comment on nature and scale of relative exclusion and participation of Victorians with a disability in the economic,
social and civil dimensions of society. The committee has also requested consideration of the impact of existing
government initiatives and services, examples of best practice from the community sector and local government
and assessment of the role of Disability Act 2006 in increasing access to government services. For more
information visit:

Points of interest: WHW wrote a submission to the inquiry focussing on the experience of women with a
disability. This can be accessed at

Victorian Parliament Inquiry into the Social Inclusion of Victorians with a Disability

In November 2013, the Victorian Parliament's Family and Community Development Committee called for public
comment on nature and scale of relative exclusion and participation of Victorians with a disability in the economic,
social and civil dimensions of society. The committee has also requested consideration of the impact of existing
government initiatives and services, examples of best practice from the community sector and local government
and assessment of the role of Disability Act 2006 in increasing access to government services. For more
information on the terms of reference visit:

Points of interest: WHW wrote a submission to the inquiry which argues for need to redress harmful stereotypes,
stigma and violence that undermine the health and wellbeing of people with a disability and contribute to their
exclusion from social life. WHW submission available at:

Workplace initiative to prevent violence against women with a disability (2013)
In October 2013, the Victorian Government announced a new initiative to improve practice in preventing and
responding to violence against women with a disability. Women with Disabilities Victoria will receive $400,000 in
Women's Health West funding to deliver a training and education program on gender and disability for professionals. This initiative is part
of Victoria's Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children 2012-2015. For more information visit:

The Victorian Achievements Program (2013 - present)
The Victorian Achievements Program encourages schools, workplaces and early childhood services to redress the
underlying causes of poor health. Participating institutions are asked to make commitments in line with the focus
areas of the program. Once certain benchmarks are met the institution can apply for recognition. Its memberships
stands at more than 3000 early childhood services, schools and workplaces around Victoria in 2015. For further
information se

Points of interest: Mental health included as a health priority area for all school, work and early childhood settings.
Sexual health and wellbeing is also included as a priority area for primary schools and early childhood and education
care services, but not for workplaces
Victorian Law Reform Committee Inquiry into Sexting (2013)
On 29 May 2013, the Law Reform Committee of the Parliament of Victoria tabled its final report for the Inquiry into
Sexting, outlining 14 recommendations for policy and law reform. The report covers the following three areas of
 Whether child pornography charges are appropriate for minors who participate in sexting  The extent to which young people are listed on the Sex Offenders Register for sexting-related offences, and whether registration is appropriate for these offences  Whether there are adequate legal and other protections available to people who are affected by sexting- related incidents
The committee report and government response is available at:
WHW provided a written submission and presented to the Law Reform Committee in June 2012. WHW
submission is available at:

Point of interest: The committee report highlights the role of sexting in producing and reinforcing gender
stereotypes, noting that there are different pressures for young women to participate as compared with young men.
It recommends that the gendered nature of sexting is taken into account when designing education programs for
young people.
Victorian Law Reform Committee Inquiry into Access to and Interaction with the Justice
System by People with an Intellectual Disability and their Families and Carers (2013)
On 5 March 2013, the Law Reform Committee tabled its report on the Inquiry into Access to and Interaction with
the Justice System by People with an Intellectual Disability and their Families and Carers, outlining 47
recommendations for policy and law reform. As set out in the terms of reference, the key themes for inquiry were:
 Participants' knowledge of their rights  Availability of appropriate services and supports  Dealings with the police  The operation of the courts
The government response to this report was tabled in parliament on 5 September 2013. The committee report
and government response are available at:

Reducing the alcohol and drug toll: Victoria's plan (2013-2017)
On the 25 January 2013 the state government launched the new whole of government alcohol and drug strategy. The strategy aims to improve the way police, courts, schools, hospitals and health and community health services work together – in order to reduce the alcohol and drug toll as well as to improve health outcomes for those affected by alcohol and drug related harm. Reducing the alcohol and drug toll sets out a 15-point plan redressing three major drug types; alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs and illegal drugs. The strategy has allocated $2.6 million to support a long term program to redress Victoria's culture around drinking and alcohol misuse and a four year $12 mil ion program for emergency departments across Victoria to support clinicians dealing with drug related admissions. Women's Health West
Points of interest: WHW supports the development of a whole of government strategy redressing alcohol and drug
related harm and ill health, but would like to see more money spend on prevention ($2.6 million in comparison to
$12 million). While importantly the strategy recognises the role of alcohol as a contributing factor to the perpetration
of violence against women (rather than as a determinant), it would have been good to see a gendered perspective
integrated into the strategy that acknowledges the different cultural norms, gender roles and experiences of men
and women in regards to alcohol and drug use.

Community Sector Reform (2013)
In November 2013, the Victorian Government released a discussion paper by Professor Peter Shergold titled
‘Towards a more effective and sustainable community service system'. The paper is associated with a project led
by Shergold with the Department of Human Services, in conjunction with the Office for the Community Sector and
VCOSS. The project is designed to review the way that government and the community services sector work
together to support vulnerable Victorians. The project is part of the state government's broader reform agenda in
Human Services: The case for change, which was released in December 2011. Consultations with the community
sector have investigated the possibility of reform in the following areas:
 early intervention  integrated services  place-based solutions  flexibility of services  scaling up good practice and investing in innovation WHW participated in a number of consultations and will submitted written feedback in association with other partners,
including the Women's Health Association Victoria and Domestic Violence Victoria. Further information and updates
available at:

Whole of Government Victorian Alcohol and Drug Strategy (2013-2017)
In January 2013, the Victorian Coalition Government launched, Reducing the alcohol and drug toll: Victoria's plan
2013 – 2017
. The plan's objectives are to: decrease the current rates of alcohol and other drug abuse in Victoria;
reduce the amount of harm that alcohol and other drug abuse causes in the community; and increase access to
treatment options so that people with an alcohol or drug problem can get help when they need it. For further

Victoria's Vulnerable Children Strategy (2013-22)
In early May 2013, Minister Mary Wooldridge launched Victoria's Vulnerable Children Strategy 2013-22. The
strategy draws on the findings and recommendations of the Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children Inquiry, which
investigated systemic problems in Victoria's child protection system. The strategic objectives set out in the strategy
are to:
 Prevent abuse and neglect  Act earlier when children are vulnerable  Improve outcomes for children in statutory care
WHW coordinated a written response to the inquiry on behalf of the WIFV Partnership. It is available at:

Points of interest: The intersection of family violence and child abuse is acknowledged under the prevention goal
of the strategy, alongside other factors such as homelessness, untreated mental illness, and drug and alcohol
misuse. However, the focus is directed toward family violence response, and largely fails to capture the role of
broader initiatives to prevent violence against women and their link to child protection.
Victorian State Disability Plan (2013-2016)
On 19 December 2012, the Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge launched the Victorian State Disability Plan 2013-2016. The plan areas aims to achieve the following four goals: 1. Develop a strong foundation in education, housing and health for people with a disability to lead independent and fulfilling lives 2. Uphold the rights of people with a disability and promote their participation in the community 3. Improve access to information, neighbourhoods, public spaces, buildings and transport for people with a Women's Health West 4. Prepare Victoria to make a successful transition to a viable National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and reformed system of disability support.
Further information is available at:

Points of interest: Improving outcomes ‘for people with a disability who are the victims of family violence, sexual
assault or abuse' is identified as a priority. The draft plan acknowledges that women are more likely to be carers of
people with a disability when compared with men and that many women with a disability do not access preventative
Victoria's Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and their Children (2012-
On the 9 October 2012, the state government released Victoria's Action Plan to Address Violence against Women
& Children: Everyone has a Responsibility to Act
. As per the consultation framework, the plan covers the continuum
from primary prevention to tertiary responses to violence against women and their children. Governance for the
plan will occur through a small, high level advisory group convened by the Minister for Women's Affairs. The new
state plan specifies government initiatives as falling within three main streams of preventing violence against
women, early intervention and service response. Key aspects of the new plan include:
 A focus on primary prevention: including challenging community attitudes and behaviours, promotion of
respectful relationships, and engaging communities and organisations to promote gender equity  Early intervention for women identified at greater risk of violence, including women with a disability.
 Early intervention for those exhibiting early signs of violent behaviour
 Investing in the service response for women and their children who are experiencing violence
 Getting tougher on perpetrators of violence and preventing re-offending
Further information available at:
WHW attended consultations and wrote a substantive submission for the state plan, which is available at:

Points of interest: The plan committed $90 million in annual funds for 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. Exactly how the
funding will be implemented over the next few years is yet to be determined. Given the recent State Coalition
Government funding cuts to Integrated Health Promotion for Women's Health Services and Community Health
Services, how the funding for primary prevention in the new state plan will be implemented presents significant
implications for these sectors working in the primary prevention space.

Koolin Balit: Victorian Government strategic directions for Aboriginal health (2012-2022)

In May 2012, the Victorian government launched Koolin Balit, which outlines the strategic directions for Aboriginal
health over the next ten years. The strategic directions guide two year actions plans and respective targets to be
implemented by the Department of Health both centrally and regionally. The policy objectives are to:
 Close the gap in life expectancy for Aboriginal people living in Victoria  Reduce the differences in infant mortality rates, morbidity and low birth weights between the general population and Aboriginal people  Improve access to services and outcomes for Aboriginal people The six key priorities of the policy include: a healthy start to life; a healthy childhood; a healthy transition to
adulthood; caring for older people; addressing risk factors; and managing illness better with effective health
Points of interest: The policy cites gender as a ‘risk factor' and acknowledges the need for gender sensitive
approaches to redress the health needs of Aboriginal men and women. However, this is predominantly discussed
in reference to chronic diseases, health behaviours and lifestyles, rather than the need for a gender sensitive
Women's Health West approach across all six of the key priority areas. Importantly, the policy outlines strong Aboriginal organisations and
improving data and evidence as key enablers for the policy.

Government plan to reduce violence in Victoria's Indigenous communities – Strong
Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families (2008-2018)
Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families outlines the vision, objectives and actions that aim to reduce
Indigenous family violence over the next ten years. The plan has eight key objectives:
1. Cultural safety: Make Victoria a safer place for all Indigenous Victorians 2. Healthy families: Support strong, robust and healthy families that provide a safe nurturing environment 3. Education, awareness and prevention: Intervene early to improve education, awareness and prevention of 4. Safety for victims: Increase the safety of Indigenous families and individuals, especially women and children 5. Accountability: Increase the accountability and personal responsibility of perpetrators of family violence within Indigenous communities 6. Healing: Increase opportunities for healing for victims and perpetrators 7. Service capability: Increase the cultural competency and capacity of the service system to improve responses to Indigenous family violence 8. Research and evaluation: Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of responses to Indigenous family violence through ongoing research and evaluation.
For further information see:

Points of interest: While originally a Labor government plan, the Coalition government has formally endorsed this
ten year plan.
Victoria Police Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence (last updated
March 2014)
The Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence was launched in 2005 and is regularly reviewed and
updated by Victoria Police's Family Violence Coordination Unit. The Code of Practice established the following
broad areas of responsibility for police:
 Increase the level of safety for all victims of family violence, particularly women and children, by thoroughly assessing risk, managing risk and making appropriate referrals  Hold perpetrators of family violence accountable for their behaviours by laying criminal charges where appropriate, including for contraventions of family violence intervention orders (FVIO) and family violence safety notices (FVSN); and by increasing successful prosecutions  Minimise trauma experienced by families during the process of police intervention
It also outlines the role of specialist family violence units and liaison officers and their coverage across the state.
For further information se
Points of interest: Specialist family violence units are designed to respond to and investigate family violence more
effectively; increase women and children's safety; and ensure that perpetrators of violence are held accountable
for their behaviour through appropriate policing responses. This increased commitment to redressing family
violence is likely to result in an increase in WHW's intake rates, with specialist FV units currently operating in the
local government areas of Brimbank and Wyndham, providing our highest rate of referral.
Women's Health West Local Government and Community Sector

Brimbank Council Community Safety Strategy
In October, Brimbank City Council released their draft Community Safety Strategy for 2015-2019. Women's Health
West commends Brimbank City Council on the development of a strategy that includes gender equity as a guiding
principle and provided a series of recommendations. Community feedback will be reviewed by council over the next
month and a final strategy will be released in December 2015.
Western region strategies led by WHW
WHW is the lead agency for two health promotion portfolios in the west – prevention of violence against women
and sexual and reproductive health. We received funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health
Preventing Violence Together: Western Region Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women. In October
2013, the Parliamentary Security for Health Georgie Crozier launched Action for Equity: A Sexual and
Reproductive Health Plan for Melbourne's West 2013-2017
. The four year plan, which is led by WHW, will be
implemented by a partnership of community and health services, specialist sexual and reproductive health services,
local government, hospitals and ethno-specific organisations.
Points of interest: The leadership and specialist expertise provided by WHW as the lead agency is essential in
both health promotion portfolios. As a feminist service, WHW is well positioned to ensure the conceptual integrity
of work that seeks to improve women's lives.
Better Health Plan for the West (2011 – 2021)
The Better Health Plan for the West identifies an agreed set of key health concerns and broad direction for future
service delivery in the western metropolitan region for 2011 – 2021 that local governments, community health
services, Medicare Locals and hospitals will work in partnership to implement. The overarching goal of the plan is
healthy and engaged communities in the west, which will be achieved through increasing health literacy; inclusive
and culturally appropriate service delivery; service integration; retention of skilled staff; maximising and growing
resources; research; and through utilising e-health and communication technologies. The plan outlines three high
priority health concerns including:
 mental health  cardiovascular disease/obesity/diabetes  cancer
Points of interest: WHW participated in the development of the plan and will continue to advocate for a greater
social determinants of health approach to be reflected in the plan.

Western Integrated Family Violence Partnership (2006 – present)
The Western Integrated Family Violence Partnership (Women and Children's Services) is a group of family violence
agencies in the western region of Melbourne who support women and children's right to freedom from violence.
The partnership works to enhance an integrated service response to improve the safety of women and children and
increase accountability of men who perpetrate violence.
Points of interest: In the 2012-2012 state budget, $4.6 million was allocated to family violence regional
leadership in the form of funding to maintain the regional integration coordinators in the twelve family violence
service catchment areas.
Primary Care Partnerships (2000 – present)
The Primary Care Partnership (PCP) Strategy was launched by the Victorian Government in April 2000, establishing
a network of 32 PCPs across the state. WHW has two PCPs in our region – HealthWest (which services the
municipalities of Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton and Wyndham) and Inner North West (which
Points of interest: Our CEO sits on the governing board of each of the PCPs and our health promotion
manager on the integrated health promotion networks. These partnerships provide a venue and a legitimacy for
close collaboration across the region on priority areas that impact on the health of our communities.
includes the municipalities of Melbourne and Moonee Valley). With the introduction of Medicare Locals the future of Victorian PCPs had been unclear. In February 2012, Department of Health senior staff and the Minister for Health, David Davis, provided a definitive direction in favour of PCPs. Funds for 2012-15 have now been confirmed and PCPs directed to continue their important partnership work.

Source: http://whwest.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/WHW-environmental-scan-April-2016-WHW.pdf

Ejn_6201 2466.2472

European Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 27, pp. 2466–2472, 2008 Augmented brain 5-HT crosses the blood–brain barrierthrough the 5-HT transporter in rat Yasushi Nakatani, Ikuko Sato-Suzuki, Naohisa Tsujino, Akane Nakasato, Yoshinari Seki, Masaki Fumotoand Hideho AritaDepartment of Physiology, Toho University School of Medicine, 5-21-16, Omori-nishi, Ota-ku, Tokyo 143–8540, Japan


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