of the Queensland Women’s Health Network commenced in 1986, following a
National Community Health conference in Adelaide. Women worked hard
visioning the Network and produced the document Health Needs of
Queensland Women. As with many community based agencies there was a
gap in the development of the group for a short period of time but
fortunately enthusiasm was regenerated following the 1990 National
Community Health conference in Sydney. Women at the Brisbane Women’s
Health Centre undertook the project of establishing a statewide network.
With no funding, visioning again occurred and progressed to the production
of a newsletter, which enabled women to share their achievements and
thoughts on the multitude of issues surrounding women’s health in
the Network was eventually awarded a $21,000 grant to enable the
employment of a part-time worker to undertake the task of keeping
Queensland women informed on health matters. Many activities have
taken place in the years since the formalisation of the Network including:
production of a newsletter (three times a year)
with other community agencies to host forums
delegations representing women’s issues to various Government bodies
participation in public action campaigns
development of website
participation in Regional Women’s Health Forums across the state
the relocation of the Network office to Townsville in January 2003, the
Network has consolidated its core work and, through the development of a
new Website, enhanced its ability to serve the health needs of women
throughout the State. As always, the Network will continue to respond to
the expressed needs of its membership.
news is that the Queensland Women’s Health Network (QWHN) has been
re-funded for the next three years, July 2004 to June 2007. Our sincere
thanks to Queensland Health for their continuing trust in the Network’s
program to foster and enhance networking between all services involved
with Women’s Health issues throughout Queensland.
Traditionally, we have been funded to produce a Newsletter three times a
year. Our Coordinator, Jeane Griffiths, has exceptional skills in this
area and we are very proud of the Newsletters she has produced since the
beginning of her employment in January 2003.
improve our ability to assist with networking, the development of a
Website was an added responsibility QWHN took on several years ago.
Sadly, that first attempt fell by the wayside for want of maintenance and
updating. Last year, a decision was made to ask Jeane to develop a whole
new website, which she did. The ongoing maintenance of the new site is
included in Jeane’s job description and we are proud to say that emails
expressing positive feedback on our Website are received regularly.
year, we expanded the work of the Network to include participation in and
support of Regional Women’s Health Forums. There was no extra funding for
this venture but we stretched our budget to cover four such Forums. This
year, we have had to be more realistic in terms of our budget and have
only managed to sponsor one Regional Women’s Health Forum, and that was at
Cherbourg.Our regional rep for the South West Queensland region, Lillian
Gray (from Cherbourg) did an exceptional job of organising and
facilitating the forum. Other QWHN members to attend were Shirley Slann
from Mt. Isa and myself as Chairperson.
At our face-to-face meetings in Brisbane in May 2004, we held serious
discussions about the need for the Network to offer assistance to
Indigenous communities to improve their networking around Women’s Health
issues. It was agreed that we would look for funding opportunities to
enable us to employ an Indigenous woman to go into Indigenous communities
throughout Queensland with the following aims:
. to help
connect workers in women’s health with each other;
increase the flow of ideas between services and communities;
encourage an evaluation of the practical application of those ideas; and
assist in improving networking capabilities in the long-term.
Women’s Health Centres around the State:
In the early years, QWHN worked closely with Women’s Health Centres around
the State but, in recent years, contact between us has been considerably
less than was intended in the beginning. I’m pleased to advise that,
during this year, there have been discussions and emails between QWHN and
Coordinators of Women’s Health Centres with a view to enhancing our
relationship and working toward a better coordination of our efforts for
Regional Reps and Coordinator:
this year, I take this opportunity to thank the regional reps who
constitute the Management team of this Queensland Women’s Health Network:
Slann from Mt. Isa
Myers from Brisbane
O’Brien from Rockhampton
Gray from Cherbourg
myself) Betty McLellan from Townsville
of the Management team, I thank our Coordinator, Jeane Griffiths, who
continues to perform her duties in an exemplary fashion. When work
demands, she is prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty and, for
that, we are very thankful. Finally, I want to thank our general
membership for your continued support, ideas and feedback. We look
forward to another year of working together to improve the health and
wellbeing of Queensland women.
been working in the position of coordinator of the Queensland Women’s
Health Network for almost two years now. I spent the first twelve months
or so working on a new format for our newsletter and designing and
producing our website. Since then my time has been spent utilising these
two outlets to work towards the Network’s aim of “strengthening links
between women and women’s services”.
reporting system was announced by Queensland Health recently, so I have
been spending a lot of time learning this system. I have found the new
reporting system to be very user-friendly and believe that it will be more
stream-lined than the previous reporting system and also, importantly,
will help the Network to operate more smoothly and efficiently. My
collaborations with Queensland Health in regards to this new system have
been very useful and effective. And our representative at Queensland
Health is always very helpful and more than willing to answer my numerous
questions and point me in the right direction.
News, our quarterly newsletter, continues to improve – thanks to the
wonderful input from a broad cross-section of women and women’s services
around the State and often from around the country. We have, after
consulting with our members, begun to focus each edition on a specific
topic – enabling us to provide more concentrated information on important
issues. The scope of Women’s Health is so broad that there is never a
shortage of potential topics to cover. We continue to receive positive
feedback from our readers, along with new requests from Services for
inclusion on our newsletter mailing list.
website is proving to be a very important tool in our quest to share
information and link women together. When we first started our website, I
was continually sourcing information from across the State to include.
Now, as proof of the success of our website as an important networking
tool, I receive a steady stream of information for inclusion on our News
At A Glance and What’s On pages from women and Services across the
country, and even internationally. In addition to the website, I have been
utilising the convenience of emails to inform members of
events/seminars/forums etc. that they may not have known about otherwise.
The feedback I have received from members in regards to this has been very
positive, confirming for us that we are doing what we set out to do -
providing access to information and support.
summing up, I would like to thank the Management Committee for their
focus, hard work and dedication over the last two years, and for giving me
the opportunity to be involved in such an important Network.
ACHIEVEMENTS FOR 2003/2004
with our Agreement with Queensland Health, our role is that of
facilitating networking between all agencies when requested. Since women’s
health in its broadest sense is concerned with the physical, mental,
social and spiritual health of women, our aim is to make contact with as
many agencies as possible – Government and Non-government, Indigenous and
Non-Indigenous, as well as those offering support to multicultural and
refugee women, women with disabilities and lesbian women.
this year, we have made contact with Hospital employees, Women’s Health
Centres, Community Health Centres, Domestic Violence Services, Sexual
Assault Services, Mental Health Agencies, Disability Services, Migrant
Services, Multicultural Support Groups and Life Line. The core ways in
which QWHN attempts to facilitate networking for the purpose of improving
women’s health and wellbeing are as follows:
monthly journal was changed to a three-colour, glossy newsletter at the
start of 2003. We have produced five newsletters in this format so far
with the sixth due out in November. 2000 copies of each edition of the
QWHN NEWS are distributed around the state. The March edition of the QWHN
News focused on the question “Why Women’s Health?” We sent out requests
for comment, and judging by the amount of feedback we received, it seems
it is a pertinent question to a wide range of women, not only around
Queensland, but from right across Australia. The feedback was so huge that
we had to increase the size of the newsletter. The August edition’s topic
was “Women, Health and Housing”. Again, the feedback and supply of
articles for this edition was high. We received articles from numerous,
varied services around the State which enabled us to cover the topic from
many different angles.
response to our newsletter, from our members has been extremely positive
with comments such as:
newsletter is always informative and generally a great read.”
you for sending me your newsletter, I read it from cover to cover and
always feel better informed afterwards.”
it be possible for you to include information about our upcoming
conference in your newsletter.”
‘Why Women’s Health?’ newsletter really got me thinking. So many
wanted to let you know that I received some copies of your QWHN News.
Thanks for putting the article in on my research. I’ve had a couple of
policy with our website is to keep it as up-to-date as possible at all
times. It seems to be paying off, with the number of hits continuing to
rise. The website enables us to provide information and topical
information to our members and all women. On an almost daily basis, we
receive requests for inclusion of information on our website, from
Services across the country.
constantly receive positive feedback, requests and compliments about the
website. With comments such as…
“Congratulations, the site looks really good, and some very interesting
articles to read. Thanks also for the mention of our publication.”
“I came across your website and thought, what a wonderful resource!”
“Thanks so much for this. By the way – it’s a gorgeous website.
Congratulations! It’s always good to see websites that really look good
and have some energy – yours certainly does!”
“I have just found your website and was impressed with the information
available. I am particularly interested in the News and What’s On
sections. Could you add our website as a link from yours?”
“Thanks so much for helping to spread the word about our publication. We
appreciate it. The QWHN website looks fantastic. We will definitely put
information on it in our upcoming issue.”
"The website looks excellent and very user friendly. We greatly
appreciate the inclusion of our information for this year, and look
forward to keeping you posted with further events."
“Thanks for including info about our event on your website. We appreciate
your ongoing support. I will organize a link from our website to yours
“I came across your website while researching a paper I’m writing. Am
having trouble finding further information. Please help! Thanks for the
so much for your support with our Maternity Review.”
“Many thanks for including information about our Conference on your
website. It all looks great.”
“Fantastic. Thank you. Could you please also put me on the mailing list
for your newsletter.”
“Could you please add our websites to your emotional and mental health
links page? They may be of interest to people visiting your site.”
“Thank you for putting a review of my book on your website. Much
“Thanks very much for including our information on your website. By the
way, love your website – very funky!”
“Thanks so much for doing this, it’s hard going getting information about
our workshops out there, and this will certainly help.”
Regional Women’s Health Forums
Another of the tasks
we have begun to undertake as part of our ongoing commitment to women’s
health is to facilitate Regional Women's Health Forums across the state.
Organised by local agencies and assisted by the Regional Rep for that
particular area, the forums have proven to be a useful networking tool and
the response to them has been extremely positive. To date we have held
five forums across the state. They have been in Emerald, Townsville, Mount
Isa and Doomadgee. The most recent being in Cherbourg.
Dr. Betty McLellan - Chairperson and North Queensland
Sandra O’Brien – Treasurer/Secretary and Central
Gillian Myers - South Queensland Representative
Shirley Slann - West Queensland Representative
Lillian Gray – South East Queensland Representative
QUEENSLAND REGIONAL REPORT
region which stretches from Mackay in the south to Ingham in the north,
west to Hughenden and east to Palm Island sees workers in agencies
associated with Women's Health continuing their work under sometimes quite
stressful conditions. With no extra funding to enable an increase staff
numbers and with more and more calls from women needing assistance,
existing staff are stretched to the limit. But, they continue to do an
In addition to work with individual women, health workers at the North
Queensland Combined Women's Services offer group experiences in various
health areas. One series of group experiences centred on the complex
arena of "Eating Issues" and was very well received by participants.
Another group focus was on *Safe Boundaries*. This ran for six weeks and
proved to be an important learning experience for women who usually have
difficulty setting boundaries for themselves.
An important part of the preventative agenda of the North Queensland
Combined Women's Services' focus on health continues to be the raising of
awareness around issues like drink-spiking, sexual violence, domestic
This year saw the Queensland Cancer Fund and the Breast Cancer Network
develop a Video in conjunction with James Cook University, focusing on
Breast Cancer among Indigenous women. It was launched in Townsville on 25
October. Congratulations to all involved in developing this very
QUEENSLAND REGIONAL REPORT
the biggest health issues affecting women is domestic & family violence.
Domestic & family violence does not discriminate. Black or white
regardless of nationality, domestic & family violence is a major issue and
a major concern. The violence can be physical, emotional, verbal and
psychological. No matter what form it takes it causes massive damage to
the victims and the whole community.
Aboriginal people are more than 45 times more likely to be victims of
domestic violence than non-Aboriginal people. Indigenous women are more
likely to be victims of homicide at the hands of their family than
non-Indigenous women. Indigenous children and young people experience
higher rates of abuse and neglect than non-Indigenous children.
May 2004 was domestic & family violence month. Every community was
visited throughout the Mount Isa region, where community education
sessions were held in each community. It was decided that education
sessions would be held at the front of each court house in each community,
as if people were not before the courts themselves, there would be family
members there to support them. Communities visited during the month were
Boulia, Dajarra, Camooweal, Cloncurry, Mornington Island, Normanton and
Burketown as well as activities being held in Mount Isa.
Other major issues addressing Indigenous women are diabetes and kidney
failure. Breast screening is still a major concern for women. In
Doomadgee when the network held a forum last year, I can still remember
one of the elder ladies asking me if I have ever had my breast screened.
I remember her comment to me that she had concerns about “her milk being
James Cook University along with Queensland Cancer Fund, Breast Cancer
Network Australia have just released a video launched in Townsville on 25
October 2004 at the Mercure Inn. Val Alberts from JCU travelled to
communities with the film crew to talk with Indigenous women and let them
share their personal stories on how breast cancer has affected their lives
and they share their encouragement in the hope that other women will do
regular breast screening every
years or see a doctor if there is a lump or if they have any concerns.
The video is called “My Story” and features a number of Indigenous women
and Topsy O'Keefe from Mount Isa is filmed on the video. Topsy also
travelled to the launch with Francis Page who is an Indigenous health
worker in Mount Isa.
North Queensland Domestic Violence Resource Service recently
hosted “Silence won’t stop the violence learning what we need in rural &
remote communities” conference in Mount Isa on 25 & 26 October 2004. The
purpose of the conference was to bring together workers, community members
and interested people, to exchange information and skills, knowledge and
wisdom with each other about their communities, to gain support for the
work that is being done, to network, and connect with each other, to plan
and be inspired about ways we can work in our communities to stop domestic
& family violence keeping our families safe and our communities strong!
SOUTH-EAST QUEENSLAND REGIONAL REPORT
has again seen a continued focus by the network on developing policies and
procedures to meet our reporting requirements and initiating the new
service agreement with Qld Health. Thanks to our hard working Coordinator,
Jeane the network now has a much stronger base and three year funding from
which to forge ahead.
this has left little time for regional networking however, I note that the
SE Qld corner has much to offer for women’s health with a broad range of
women’s services continuing to provide support, information, clinical and
education services across a whole spectrum of issues of relevance to
women’s health. I look forward to more productive networking in the SE
Region for 2004 – 05 and would welcome any feedback or contact from
workers working in this region.
QUEENSLAND REGIONAL REPORT
twelve months has been a very busy year for me. In April I was elected as
a Fitzroy Shire Councillor. I have had many talks with the local
government minister Desley Boyle MP, who also happens to be the Minister
for Women, about Women's Health, and especially the funding arrangements.
The Minister is very accommodating but I guess what she would like to do
and what she can do are two different things. Since being a councillor I
have become involved with the Pensioners and Superannuants league, whose
members are mostly women. Some women are taking control of their own
banking, paying of accounts, and just general day to day things for the
first time since they married. Some managing, some floundering and
becoming very stressed in the process of learning to deal with all the
incidentals of daily life in our ever changing electronic world. My work
at Lifeline confirms how many lonely people there are in our
neighbourhoods. I attended the launch of the Queensland Rural Women's
Network Capricornia division, where I was able to do some good networking
on behalf of QWHN. Wherever I go, I am continually handing out our flyers
and newsletters, and receive nothing but praise for quality of information
our newsletter contains. The Queensland Country Women's Association (QCWA)
is one of the organisations that enjoys receiving our newsletters with
many a good debate at meetings about different articles. I attended the
Australian Women's Health Network committee meeting in Melbourne, to
assist them to start organising their conference in Melbourne in 2005.The
Queensland Women’s Health Network monthly teleconferences keep us all up
to date and are essential, and work well with the occasional face to face
meeting. We are extremely lucky to have Betty as our chairperson, without
her the Queensland Women's Health Network would not be where it is today.
Thank goodness the health scare she had earlier was not as bad as
expected. I must thank our coordinator Jeane, what a genius with a
website. The feed back we receive from people visiting our website says it
all. Thankyou Jeanne also for the way you pull everything together so we
run like a well oiled machine. Thank you also to all the regional
representatives as we continue to work together to promote opportunities
for women to share information and support one another in maintaining a
women's voice in health. Cheers.
SOUTH-WEST QUEENSLAND REGIONAL REPORT
for women's health workers at
was the Regional Women's Health Forum held in May of this year. The forum
was very successful. Approximately 32 women attended. Women commented
that they found the forum very good. They also commented that it was good
to talk with other women about the many issues affecting women’s health.
I felt that more younger women need to be more aware regarding women’s
also presented at the forum. Sista Girls promote self esteem amongst
younger women and also support and encourage young women to come together
to talk about the many issues affecting young women.