Gippsland Women’s Health (GWH) is hitting the road for a special Regional Roadshow in celebration of 30 years of work in the Gippsland community.

The Gippsland Women’s Health six-week Regional Roadshow begins Monday, September 12 in East Gippsland, concluding in Latrobe Valley on Friday, October 21, as they travel across the region, hosting discussion events to understand how they can help create a safe, healthy Gippsland.

The leading organisation for gender equity, women’s health, prevention of violence against women, and family violence system leadership in Gippsland, GWH has been improving women’s health, wellbeing and freedom of choice since 1992.

Despite any assumptions based on its name, Gippsland Women’s Health is not a first-hand health service, but rather an organisation that advocates for Gippsland Women and focuses on providing information, education and programs to reduce barriers associated with women’s health and wellbeing.

While planning for their 30-year celebration, GWH recognised a lack of community awareness of the services and support the organisation provides, which GWH spokesperson Sam Foat said led to the conception of the Gippsland Women’s Health Regional Roadshow.

“2022 is our 30th anniversary,” Ms Foat said.

“Originally, we were looking at a major event to acknowledge the 30 years, but we realised that we need to be getting out into the community a lot more to firstly re-establish our presence in the region and remind people what it is we actually do.

“Also to connect with women and to reconnect with local women and to remind them that they have an impact on the work that we do.

“Whilst we have the priorities and a lot of statistics and data and research that goes into forming the work that we do, we realised we need to actually be speaking with local women and understand what it is they need to improve their safety, their wellbeing and their overall health.”

Today’s medicine is substantially better for Australian women than in any other era. However, despite medical advancements, there remains an undeniable gender gap in medicine, causing suffering for thousands of women.

Figures from the Australia Talks National Survey 2021 revealed that women were twice as likely to feel dismissed by their doctor than men, and that 46 per cent of women are less likely to have confidence in Australia’s health system, compared to 51 per cent of men

It takes, on average, six years for Australian women living with the pain-wrenching and often debilitating condition endometriosis before receiving a diagnosis.

Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing inflammation, pain, fatigue and, in some cases, infertility. The chronic disease affects one in nine Australian females and has no cure.

It wasn’t until 2018 that the federal government recognised the severity of endometriosis, affecting thousands of Australian women, and implemented the National Action Plan for Endometriosis to further awareness and education, improve clinical management and care and further research.

While the knowledge and awareness surrounding endometriosis has improved since the 2018 National Action Plan, lack of awareness remains a concern.

Ms Foat said Gippsland Women’s Health has a significant emphasis on improving health literacy within the Gippsland community.

“Topics like endometriosis falls under our sexual and reproductive health focus priority,” she said.

“Another big part of our work is improving health literacy.

“Understanding what endometriosis is or any other health concerns and issues women experience that aren’t actually at the forefront.

“This is where our equity work is really important because a lot of these issues are so widespread and so common, yet our health care system, medicine and treatment just aren’t there because women’s health hasn’t been prioritised in the past.

“This play’s a huge role in our work for advocating for better health care, for better access and better treatment, and also getting that understanding out there to women who might not know what these conditions are.”

Women’s health often suffers because they don’t have the knowledge, security or access they need. Gippsland Women’s Health is dedicated to providing Gippsland Women with the support, knowledge and pathways required to make the most of health care services available.

In addition to educating and advocating for women’s health, GWH is the leading agency in the prevention of violence against women in the Gippsland region, playing an integral role in addressing family violence, coordinating and supporting the integration of family violence services.

To follow Gippsland Women’s Health on their Regional Roadshow, or for information on a discussion event coming near you, head to https://www.gwhealth.asn.au/ or find Gippsland Women’s Health on Facebook.