Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let's have an action plan for women's health

Election candidates receive a lot of surveys and requests for commitments on particular issues. In these elections, I've received a few, and will be saying more here shortly. To begin though, I'll say a few words about why I've committed to an action plan - Safe, Well and Connected - circulated to Darebin Council election candidates by Women's Health in the North (WHIN).

First of all, it is a big eye-opener being married to a social worker who works with single women who have been subject to domestic violence and who are at risk of homelessness. Women are disproportionately at risk of violence, isolation and social disadvantage on a variety of levels, as well as often bearing the brunt of single parenthood.

These factors, which WHIN identifies as the 'social determinants' of well-being, go beyond reproductive health and contribute to women's overall safety, well-being and social connectedness. Given that these issues, and particular medical conditions, are experienced differently by women than by men, with some in fact unique to women, there is a lot of sense in an approach such as WHIN's gender-based framework.

Further, because Council has such a direct connection with many of the women in particularly disadvantaged groups, such a Framework could have a big impact on the effectiveness of Council's services. This is especially the case when reading Council's annual report and its annual report card for 'A Caring City' gives so little indication of a gender-based approach. WHIN has also suggested that a similar approach might in fact benefit the needs of men as well.

There is another big aspect of WHIN's proposal that appeals to my particular platform in this election. That is the broadly inclusive approach WHIN has taken in framing particular actions to address women's needs - more than 100 women and service providers had a say in putting together the action plan.

WHIN also proposes that, in contributing to meeting women's needs via a Council strategy, the same broadly inclusive approach - with representation of and participation by women from disadvantaged groups - should be taken in making decisions about specific solutions and actions by Council. I couldn't agree more, and fully support implementation of this plan by Council.

Back to my campaign website

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