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Women – Women’s Strategy

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Tags: Women, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - I understand that health and wellbeing is one of the four outcome areas of the Equal Means Equal Women's Strategy 2022-27. I can see in this most recent most gender budget snapshot that a number of indicators are being tracked and used to measure progress. On page 37 of the budget snapshot, there are a number of indicators that are being tracked. Considering that this work is still evolving, is there some flexibility with regard to the data you are tracking or plans to add more indicators? If so, how is this work being progressed and how are these indicators being determined? We would like to understand who is deciding which indicators to measure, how and why.

Ms PALMER - The way I look at this snapshot is that it is a living, breathing document, that we are wanting it to evolve. There will be other indicators included as we move through. The indicators and how this was looked at this year was very much around feedback we got from women about what was important to them, where their areas of stress were. We tried to look at that and put that into the gender budget statement.

The team identified the key indicators for measuring gender equality that were relevant to those four outcomes I mentioned before from Equal Means Equal. The indicators were chosen if they could help us measure changes over time, such as whether the gender pay gap, which is on page 24, or the number of men and women taking parental leave is changing. We wanted the indicators to be practical and they had to be supported by data that can tell us over time if we are shifting the dial to achieve gender equality. For this snapshot, the data was chosen that was reputable, publicly available and regularly updated. I would like to see an expansion of those indicators as we see the maturity of this snapshot.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, minister. We can all probably agree that while we are seeing some very positive moves forward for women's health and in initiatives and funding, we still have a lot of work to do and significant, systemic and cultural issues to address. We have all experienced or know women who have experienced not being listened to or taken seriously by medical professionals, when presenting with significant health issues, actually particularly in relation to pain where women are often told it is anxiety. I know a young woman whose endometriosis diagnosis took nearly a decade and she kept being fobbed off and told it was her anxiety.

Ms O'BYRNE - It is the average time. My daughter was told she had migraines of the stomach.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am interested in your observations on this, because it is a culture issue every woman at this table has experienced in some form or the other when you go to a medical professional. Would it be possible to begin tracking indicators that relate to women's experience potentially with management of pain, health treatment and outcomes, wait times, wait time outcomes for woman, presenting with pain versus men for example, because when men are in pain we all know about it.

CHAIR - That is a very sexist remark.

Ms O'CONNOR - So, we can begin to track some data and hopefully take action on behalf of the many women who have been undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because of the approach taken to women's health and particularly, women's pain.

Ms PALMER - I do just want to say a couple of things here so, just let me get them all out. This is about the budget and you have asked for me to give my observations. I will say a couple of things. The first one is we have an extraordinary Minister for Health in our Premier Jeremy Rockliff-

Ms O'CONNOR - We can disagree on that, he is a part time health minister.

CHAIR - Order, can you please let the minister answer.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you Chair I was just setting the record straight.

Ms PALMER - Well I will reset the record, I believe we have an exceptional minister for health in our Premier and this is certainly an area I am very comfortable talking to him about and he is very responsive about. With regard to the gender budget statement, I have to say our dealings with the health department and them wanting to participate were really positive. They really see the value in this gender budget snapshot and I think we will certainly be working more closely with the department.

Ms O'CONNOR - Well you partly answered the question but-

Ms PALMER - Which bit did I miss?

Ms O'CONNOR - No. You have partly answered the question I am about to ask about advocating for better women's health outcomes, but we have heard some accounts about excruciating pain some women experience for example, when having IUDs put in without being prescribed or allowed pain relief. There is the experience that women who access a medical termination have where they are sort of left on their own at home as they lose vast volumes of blood. Some women have been told that the pain is not that bad or it is not uncommon for there to be pain, is this something you would talk to the minister for health about too? About having some cultural change in within our health services and medical professionals it is much more gender aware and responsive, particularly with women's pain which there is sort of an expectation we will just bear it because we can have children.

Ms PALMER - Yes, look with a couple of things here we are sort of heading into that health area, so I need to be a little bit careful there-

Ms O'CONNOR - Except you have health and wellbeing in your snapshot.

Ms PALMER - Can I tell you Jo Flanagan who would be familiar to me, is one of the new members on the women's council and I think she is going to be an incredible addition to that advisory council to me when it comes to women's health. This is also something that the Women's Ministerial Council is discussing. I feel like I have read recently a report about pain and women.

Ms O'CONNOR - Being dismissed.

Ms PALMER - I can't work out where.