Sexual and Reproductive Health
Women’s Health Grampians (WHG) is committed to improving the sexual and reproductive health of women in the Grampians region. Local and regional data tells us that:
- there are major barriers for rural women accessing family planning services
- our teenage birth rate is consistently higher than the statewide average
- regional rates of Chlamydia are higher than those for Victoria
Our goal is to increase women’s access to timely and appropriate sexual and reproductive health with a focus on contraception, pregnancy counselling, abortion and professional development.
What is sexual and reproductive health?
Sexual and reproductive health is an important factor shaping how women develop and maintain meaningful interpersonal relationships; appreciate their bodies; interact with others; express affection, love, and intimacy; and by choice, bear children[i]
Sexual and reproductive health is defined by the World Health Organisation as:“a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being; not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.[ii]“
The International Conference of Population and Development determined that:“Reproductive health implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. [iii]“
[i] Women’s Health Victoria. (2009). Sexual and Reproductive Health. Retrieved January 2014 from http://whv.org.au/what-we-do/sexual-reproductive -health
[ii] World Health Organisation. (2006) Defining Sexual Health: Report of technical consultation on Sexual Health, 28-31 January 2002. Geneva, Switzerland
[iii] International Conference of Population and Development. (1994). ICDPD Programme of Action. UNFPA: Cairo
- What is Women’s Health Grampians doing to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health?
WHG have gathered and assessed sexual and reproductive health indicators for the Grampians region. This information allows us to raise awareness of issues specific to our region:
- Over half of all women in Australia have experienced an unplanned pregnancy, and at the time of their unplanned pregnancy, 60 per cent of women were using at least one form of contraception.[i]
- Availability and privacy are barriers for women accessing family planning services in rural and regional Victoria.[ii]
- Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the Grampians region; increasing 36% from 2010 to 2013. Horsham has a prevalence rate of 528.9 per 100,000 persons which is 51.5% higher than the Victoria rate of 349.2.[iii]
- Proportions of sexually active adolescents not practicing safe sex by using a condom is 49.0% in Ballarat and 42.3% in the Grampians region. Proportions of sexually active adolescent females not using contraception is 34.4% in Ballarat and 20.7% in the Grampians region*.[iv]
WHG aim to invest in meaningful collaboration and partnerships to:
- build local capacity and share expertise
- consider local professional development and training needs
- engage a regional network around sexual health as a priority
Our focus is at the population level, working to achieve healthy public policy and improved service provision for women.
WHG continue to seek out opportunities to understand the sexual and reproductive health needs and priorities for women in our region, we welcome your feedback, contribution and collaboration.
[i] Marie Stopes International (2008) Real Choices: Women, contraception and unplanned pregnancy
[ii] Women’s Health Association of Victoria (2012) Victorian Rural Women’s Access to Family Planning Services Survey Report
[iii] Victorian Department of Health Surveillance of notifiable conditions in Victoria Local Government Summary Reports. Sourced from http://ideas.health.vic.gov.au/surveillance.asp in 15 January 2014
[iv] Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2009) Adolescent Community Profiles (*contraception and condom use data available for Ballarat and the Grampians region only)
- Research: Unintended Pregnancy Study in Grampians Pyrenees and Wimmera regions
In the Grampians Pyrenees and Wimmera regions information on the range of options available to women with unintended pregnancies is limited and direct services are scarce.
Using funding from the Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust, Women’s Health Grampians partnered with The University of Melbourne, to study GPs referral practices, service needs and gaps in managing unintended pregnancy.
The study results indicate significant scope for improvement in terms of knowledge, services and referral pathways.
Since the commencement of this research, the Victorian Government released the first Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy which aims to address barriers and service gaps to improve reproductive choices.
This research provides important and timely evidence to garner local action in support of this new strategy.
If you would like further information please contact Shannon Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 5322 4100
The Women’s Health Grampians newsletter includes updates on developments in the area of sexual and reproductive health for the region. Past bulletins focused on sexual and reproductive health are available below.
Women’s Health Grampians SRH snapshot Central Highlands_FEB 2017
Women’s Health Grampians SRH snapshot Grampians Pyrenees_FEB 2017
Women’s Health Grampians SRH snapshot Wimmera_FEB 2017
Women’s Health Grampians WHG Sexual Health Service Guide Wimmera
Women’s Health Grampians Sexual Health Service Guide for the Grampians Pyrenees
Victorian Rural Women’s Access to Family Planning Survey Report 2012Anecdotal information has been consistently provided to Women’s Health Services across Victoria that there are significant difficulties for women living in rural areas accessing family planning services. The scope of this survey was to gather information from health and community service providers about rural women’s experience in accessing contraception, pregnancy counselling and abortion.The survey findings have confirmed the barriers rural women face when accessing family planning services in rural and regional Victoria:
- Privacy: including concerns about a lack of anonymity when requesting services, or that those requests might not be treated confidentially. Privacy was rated as the key issue for buying condoms. 72% of respondents considered privacy to be an issue in their local area.
- Availability of services: including access to female GPs, limited access to local services, waiting times and opening hours of clinics and/or pharmacies. Availability was rated as a key issue for access to contraception, emergency contraception and pregnancy counselling.
- Travel: including difficulties with distance and the lack of either public or private transport options. Travel was rated as the key issue for women accessing abortion. Where access to surgical abortion was not available locally 96% of respondents referred to services in Melbourne (50%) or out of town (46%).
- Information was consistently raised as an issue throughout the survey – this includes the knowledge and education available to the community and service providers.
This information is being used to inform service delivery, service planning, women’s health advocacy, and will also act as a baseline for future comparative work.
Victorian rural women’s access to family planning services : survey report August 2012 / Rural services of the Women’s Health Association of Victoria – Ballarat, Vic. : Rural services of the Women’s Health Association of Victoria, November 2012
Rural Women’s Access to Family Planning in Victoria poster
This poster was presented by WHG CEO, Ms Patty Kinnersly at the inaugural National Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference November 2012 to highlight themes from the above survey report.
AWHN – Women and Sexual and Reproductive Health Position Paper 2012
Women’s Health Association of Victoria (WHAV) Proposal for a Victorian Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy
- For help and assistance
For information about sexual and reproductive health services click here and you will be redirected to our Useful Links page for a list of organisations and services which can help you.