Thousands of women across Australia work to make the world a better place – for their families, for their communities and for other women. To celebrate them, this International Women’s Day we’re shining a spotlight on women, and the organisations they work for who are leading change, challenging the status quo and striving to forge better outcomes. Here are the stories of four oustanding women HESTA is supporting as they press for progress.
This team of midwives from Sydney’s Mater Hospital is leading a holistic approach to wellness for expectant mums, designing a program which focuses on a women’s emotional as well as physical wellbeing. “Perinatal anxiety and/or depression affects one in six women,” explains Mater Antenatal Midwife Coordinator Sarah Tooke – who last year on behalf of the Mater Hospital accepted the Team Excellence accolade at the HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards.
Sarah says the award-winning program aims to detect and prevent mental health conditions early.“Our program focuses on a woman’s emotional as well as physical wellbeing, providing holistic multidisciplinary care throughout the pregnancy, the birth of their baby and into the postnatal period.”
The program is working to break down the stigma often associated with perinatal anxiety and depression. The team has partnered with the Gidget Foundation to continue to raise awareness of the issue - while also supporting women during their pregnancies.
“Our program focuses on a woman’s emotional as well as physical wellbeing, providing holistic multidisciplinary care throughout the pregnancy, the birth of their baby and into the postnatal period."
Any woman, any issue. This is the mantra the team at the Women’s Information and Referral Exchange (WIRE) live by. WIRE is the only women’s service in Victoria providing information, support and referral services to women – on any issue.
“There are many issues that women are far more likely to experience than men: family violence, sexual assault and harassment. Many women want to speak to someone who they know intimately understands the types of issues they are facing,” explains WIRE Chief Executive Officer, Julie Kun.
“Without us many women would be left to navigate a highly complex service delivery system to try to get the support they need. Or they might have to speak to multiple organisations because they are experiencing more than one issue, such as family violence and financial hardship.”
In addition to their referral services WIRE also runs programs that support and educate women who are experiencing hardship or abuse.
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Call WIRE on 1300 134 130
‘Building a world where all are respected and can fully experience life’, is the goal that underpins everything the team at Women with Disabilities (WDV) does. WDV focuses on the inequities which women with disabilities may experience, including access to health services, safety from violenceand discrimination.
Helping lead the organisation in this mission is its Executive Director, Keran Howe – who describes WDV as an “organisation run by women with disabilities for women with disabilities.”
“Our mission is to advance real social and economic inclusion for women with a disability in Victoria. We are a voice for women with disabilities, we create opportunities for women with disabilities to be visible and to be heard in their communities, and we engage the community to challenge attitudes and myths about women with disabilities,” explains Keran.
It’s this work that has led WDV to make submissions to government advocating for improved policy and legislation for women with disabilities. They were also influential in the reccomendations handed down by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Need help or want further information?
Call Women with Disbilities - (03) 9286 7800
Sonya’s passion for educating children – no matter their circumstance – led her to transform thewards at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital into warm, engaging learning environments forchildren with chronic health conditions, who might otherwise miss out on a kinder education.
It’s this innovative idea which saw her win the 2014 HESTA Early Childhood Education and Care Outstanding Graduate Award. And last year Sonya used her prize money to travel to Bologna, Italy, home of the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.
“Their approach is all about building communities,” Sonya explains. “That’s really pertinent to my work at the hospital because, given the clinical nature of the surroundings, it is essential I make learning spaces inviting and stimulating.”
Sonya’s work means that young children who are often very unwell are given a happy, warm and fun environment in which to continue to learn, laugh, grow and be kids.