Investment in the health, wellbeing and safety of Victorian women welcomed by WHSN

Victoria’s leading network of women’s health organisations has welcomed the Allan Government’s investment in the health, wellbeing and safety of Victorian women and the focus on cost-of-living relief for families.

The Victorian Women’s Health Services Network (WHSN) welcomes this year’s focus on cost of living relief for families and the additional $269 million towards the safety of women and children, in addressing gender-based violence.

WHSN Chair and Women’s Health Loddon Mallee Chief Executive Officer Tricia Currie, said the network is pleased to see that in spite of the expected budget tightening measures, the Victorian Government has demonstrated its ongoing commitment to gender and health equality, and to addressing gender-based violence.

“Our network acknowledges the challenging nature of the State’s finances. Through this budget, the Allan Government has succeeded in recognising the value of investing in the equitable health and wellbeing of Victorians, which the WHSN has demonstrated will produce a return on equity.”

“This year’s focus on cost of living and investment in health, wellbeing and prevention will continue momentum towards a safer, more equitable Victoria,” Ms Currie said.

“The reduction of cost of living pressures, which we know disproportionately impacts women, is a welcome focus of the 2024/25 state budget.

“Because economic security is a social determinant of health, we are cautiously optimistic that measures within the budget to offer economic relief to families and strengthen women’s economic inclusion will contribute to increased access to health and wellbeing.”

Ms Currie said the network was supportive of the Gender Equality Budget Statement, particularly the move to embed gender responsive budgeting into legislation.

“As international best-practice, gender responsive budgeting acknowledges the importance of considering the suite of initiatives and investment within the budget through a gender lens,” Ms Currie said.

“This can be seen within the Gender Equality Budget Statement which acknowledges the crucial interaction between gender inequity and areas like housing, mental health, employment and opportunities to participate in public life.”

The Gender Equality Budget Statement also includes a particular focus on women’s pain and specific health needs, including sexual and reproductive health.

“The Allan Government’s focus on addressing the gender pain gap through an ongoing Inquiry supports the improvement of sexual and reproductive health, an area we would ideally like to see attracting greater investment in future budgets,” Ms Currie said.

“While we still have a long road to travel towards a gender equal Victoria, as has been keenly demonstrated by the devastating toll of gender-based violence this year, the State Government continues to show leadership in this space.”

“We know that effective prevention, early intervention and response to gender-based violence requires sustained, long-term investment and adequate resourcing.”

Ms Currie said the Victorian Government’s acknowledgement of the intersecting experiences of Victorian women within the budget was crucial to meeting women’s health needs.

“The focus on tailored support for women of intersecting identities, including transgender women, women with disabilities and women from migrant and refugee backgrounds within our healthcare system shows that the Government is striving to improve health equity,” Ms Currie said.

“While the Victorian Women’s Health Services Network is pleased with this budget’s focus and commitment to health and gender equity, it is crucial to acknowledge that we still have a long way to go in achieving optimal health, wellbeing and safety for all Victorians.”

Gender Analysis:

The Women’s Health Services Network and GenVic will produce a joint gender analysis of the 2024/25 Victorian State Budget over the next two weeks.

Further contact:

Tricia Currie Chair, Women’s Health Services Network

Phone: 0428365929 Email: tricia.currie@whlm.org.au

About Women’s Health Services Network

The Women’s Health Services Network has been a driving force progressing and shaping Victoria’s women’s health and equality space for four decades. While our services were established and funded independently of one another, collaboration has been a strong part of our history. Today, the 12 women’s health services funded through the state government’s Victorian Women’s Health Program collaborate under the title the ‘Victorian Women’s Health Services Network’. This enables us to work as a coordinated, mutually-reinforcing statewide network comprising both place-based and specialist services.