Australian women encouraged to think about their health

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By Martina Simos

Women’s Health Week, now in its 11th year, is a national initiative from a not-for-profit organisation that aims to raise awareness this week on health issues for all women.

Its theme, Grow Your Knowledge is about supporting all Australian women to make informed decisions about their health by providing information that is easy to understand.

This initiative is organised by a national not-for-profit organisation called Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, which is dedicated to improving the knowledge of women’s health in Australia.

The organisation was founded 30 years ago in honour of medical professional, Dr Jean Hailes, who established the nation’s first (and only second in the world) women’s health clinic dedicated to menopause. Currently there are two Jean Hailes clinics operating in Victoria, servicing women’s health needs.

The late Dr Jean Hailes provided health information to women as well as training for health professionals around 30 years ago, on topics that were never discussed publicly, such as menopause, endometriosis, pelvic pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Interim Chief Executive Officer Janet Hailes Michelmore AO stepped down in her role late last year but will remain Patron of the organisation.

In the 2022 Year in Review report, newly-appointed CEO, Sara L White thanked the work of Ms Hailes Michelmore for continuing the work of her mother, Dr Jean Hailes.

Dr Jean Hailes.

“Like her mother, the late Dr Jean Hailes, Janet has worked tirelessly to upskill the health workforce and ensure no-one’s pain is ignored, or symptoms or conditions are left unmanaged,’’ the report said.

“Women’s ‘health issues’ are no longer, and will never again, be shrouded in mystery and stigma.

“I’m proud that Jean Hailes, in collaboration with many valued partners, has played such a significant role in eroding both mysteries and taboos.”

Last year more than eight million-page views were recorded on the Jean Hailes website. It regularly updates free evidence-based health resources including a popular health check chart, for consumers and health professionals.

More than 100,00 women downloaded the podcast series, Denise Asks Awkward Questions, starring comedian Denise Scott and Jean Hailes medical experts.

The website also has a suite of resources such as factsheets, videos and podcasts on topics that includes abortion, contraception, cervical screening, vaginal health, mindfulness, mental and emotional wellbeing and menopause.

Last year the 2022 Women’s Health Week also prompted 56 per cent of women to get a health check. This year’s program will feature new resources and information on hormones, menopause, cervical screening self-collection, heart health, persistent pelvic pain and nutrition. These are available from Monday, September 4.

Some of the multilingual fact sheets have been translated into 13 languages including, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Punjabi and Somali.

Jean Hailes is supported by funding from the Australian Government. The organisation not only brings together a wide range of public health information but also has an active network of researchers, through support and collaboration with research teams in major medical research institutes and universities.

Source: Jean Hailes

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