Launch of the Australian Women’s Health Charter
The first Australian Women’s Health Charterwas recently launched by the Australian Women’s Health Network (AWHN). The impetus for the Charter came from the compelling evidence that what is needed for women to experience optimal health and well-being is a ‘whole of government’ policy and gender based services. The charter sets out four key proposals and if adopted by the Commonwealth, would mark a new beginning for women’s health at the national level and contribute to the creation of a fair and healthy society.
1. A new national women’s health policy which places gender into all Commonwealth portfolio areas and is underpinned by a social determinants framework
To achieve the vision in the Australian Women’s Health Charter, Australia needs a new national women’s health policy underpinned by a social determinants framework. Such a policy would give clear direction to a “whole of government approach” on how women and their families’ lives could be improved.
This integrated approach would assist government to make better use of scarce resources by delivering timely and streamlined services to women and their families while delivering cost benefits to government by addressing acute problems before they became chronic.
2. Government-funded independent women’s health peak
To assist the development of a new national women’s health policy, an independent women’s health peak with membership from all states and territories be publicly funded to provide ongoing advice on policy, research and new and emerging areas of women’s health.
It is important that the independent women’s health peak not be directly involved with service delivery to ensure that there is no conflict of interest or perception of conflict of interest. Rather, it should work collaboratively with service providers to identify: emerging issues; policy development; and research areas of concern to women’s health and wellbeing.
3. Establish women’s advisory committees and diversity units in all federal government departments
To implement a new approach to creating a healthy society, the Commonwealth to set and report on, gender targets for all portfolio areas and establish women’s advisory committees and diversity units in all federal government departments to report back to a central unit in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
4. Funded national conversation and sustainable ongoing funding
The Commonwealth fund a national, collaborative conversation to set priorities for new initiatives and research. These priorities to be reviewed and knowledge shared through a funded national conference in conjunction with women’s health peak organisations.
Any priorities, new initiatives and research that are identified through the national conversation are sustainably funded to ensure its success and capacity to make a difference to women’s health and well-being.