Women's Health Goulburn North East
Women's Health Goulburn North East

57 Rowan Street, Wangaratta, 3677
Tel 03 5722 3009 | Fax 03 5722 3020
Email whealth@whealth.com.au

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The Way We Work

We take a woman-centred approach

At WHGNE, we do not speak of clients, customers, cases or consumers. Instead, we talk about women and girls. Our work is woman-centred in that we focus always on achieving improved outcomes for women. We strive to hear the voices, experiences and needs of women – as individuals and collectively. In our work with other service providers and organisations, we encourage others to recognise and respond to gender in order to provide services and activities that are useful and accessible to women.

We are feminist

Feminism means different things to different people. As a staff we are always exploring our feminisms, yet we have in common a desire to empower women, hear their stories and acknowledge their real, lived experiences. We see gender as implicated in violence, exploitation and oppression, and recognise that women's power is also mitigated by their class, culture, (dis)ability, religion, sexuality and life experiences.

We use a social model of health

Our work is premised on a social model of health. This does not deny medical or physiological aspects, but acknowledges that social, economic, cultural, political and spiritual factors also influence people's experiences of health, disease, (dis)ability and illness.

We work in many different ways

Our work is complex and undertaken on many levels. It includes community development, training, resource production, research, advocacy, planning and evaluation. Processes and relationships are valuable in their own right.

We work in partnership

Our partners are service providers, local organisations and local communities. We try to model collaborative approaches and resource sharing, and to facilitate the development of lasting and meaningful relationships. We offer a gender "lens" or approach that complements the skills and expertise of our partners.

We also work in partnership within WHGNE. Work groups are established to achieve set pieces of work, and we meet fortnightly as an organisation for information sharing, discussion and professional development.

We aim for sustainable change

We always hope to achieve lasting change. We use feminist, strength-based, story-telling and community development approaches to support positive change. We feel there is little value in establishing processes or structures that cannot be sustained without the day-to-day support of WHGNE. The only sustainable activities are those which are relevant and which are within the capacities of the environment, local communities or service providers. This means we build the capacities of local workers, organisations and women and assist them to develop structures and processes that they can maintain.

We endorse specialist women's services

Our reason for existence is that women need gender-specific services.

Australia's diverse cultures are gendered. There are many subtle and not-so-subtle influences that shape and reinforce our gender identities: family and friends, education, media, marketing and systemic forces.

In most parts of Australian society, this gendering has harsh effects on women. They are more likely to be poor, to be unemployed, to be sole parents, and to work in positions which are poorly paid and which have few opportunities for advancement. They undertake most of Australia's domestic labour, including most child-rearing. They are less likely to have access to positions of power and influence. They are many times more likely to experience family violence, rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment. Their bodies and their sexuality are exploited for power and profit.

In the health system, men dominate decision-making. Medical research traditionally uses male bodies as the norm, with findings then applied to women with little or no regard for their difference. Health practitioners are not immune to the ideology of our society and often have gendered attitudes and sexist behaviours. This means that most women find that the health system does not meet their physical, social, emotional or spiritual needs.

We recognise the experiences of rural women

Rurality impacts upon all women in Hume Region; however each woman experiences the impact differently. We recognise that women living in rural areas have different needs and experiences to city dwellers.

We provide direct support for individual women

Direct support for individual women continues to be a small but important component of our work. As we have no counsellors or nurses, direct support of women generally takes the form of referral to primary care services, other information sources or to specialist services such as family violence or financial security. Direct contact enables us to hear about the concerns and experiences of a diverse range of women.

We evaluate what we do

We believe that all of our activities must be evaluated to ascertain their usefulness, sustainability and replicability. We dedicate time to collective evaluation of our work.