Our local research is informed by women in the ACT. Over many years Women’s Health Matters has captured, analysed and reported on a broad range of health and wellbeing issues of women in the ACT. We use the voices and experiences of ACT women in our reports to influence decision-makers and local responses in the ACT. You can see and read our reports below.
October 2020 We Contribute Read more »
This report is the fifth in a series that looks at the views and experiences of health and the health needs of ACT women, with the aim of improving options and access to services. This study sought the views of older ACT women on: their health, their health needs, their access to services, supports and information, and the barriers to maintaining their health. The report also explores issues such as their social connectedness, their housing and living arrangements, their financial status, and their access to transport.
November 2019 Making ACT bus stops work for women Read more »
During 2019 the ACT government made significant changes to the transport system in Canberra to accommodate the tram line from Gungahlin to the city, including the decommissioning of many bus stops. Women’s Health Matters began to hear from women that these changes had affected their feelings of safety. This report summarises our key findings after conducting bus stop audits, including identifying common factors which contributed to women feeling unsafe and more vulnerable at these stops.
October 2019 Creating opportunity or entrenching disadvantage? 5 Years on – ACT Labour Market Update Read more »
Women’s Health Matters and the ACT Council of Social Services (ACTCOSS) produced this analysis of the ACT labour market, looking at future trends with a focus on wages, levels of qualification and growth across major industries. This report continues a gender-based analysis begun in a 2014 ACTCOSS report titled Creating Opportunity or Entrenching Disadvantage? – Labour Market Trends in the ACT, to determine how these conditions effect the work opportunities and incomes earned by women in the ACT.
August 2019 The views of same sex attracted women in the ACT about their health: “This is what the real experience is like…” Read more »
This report is the fourth in a series that looks at the views and experiences of health and health needs of ACT women, with the aim of improving options and access to services. This study sought the views of same sex attracted ACT women (both cis and trans) on: their health; their health needs; their access to services, supports and information; and the barriers to maintaining their health. The report explores issues such as sexual health, experiences of violence and anti-LGBTIQ behaviour.
June 2019 Below the surface Read more »
This report follows a 2018 Women’s Health Matters report, Hidden disadvantage among women in the ACT, about women in low income households. Our 2018 report found that women are disproportionately represented among those living in the ACT’s lowest income households. This disadvantage is concentrated in geographic areas in the ACT that are smaller than suburb size, and these areas can be masked by high average incomes across whole suburbs. This report highlights these hidden areas of disadvantage in the ACT by focusing on middle income households. The aim of the study is to determine the characteristics of disadvantage in these areas in the hopes of identifying those women and children who are at risk of poverty and homelessness.
May 2019 What ACT women value in women’s health services Read more »
This report provides an overview of the findings from Women’s Health Matters research between 1990 and 2018 looking at ACT women’s experiences of accessing health services, what they look for and what they currently value in women’s only health services. We hope this study reinforces the value of women only health services in the ACT.
January 2019 What makes public spaces safer for ACT women? Read more »
Urban planning has the potential to encourage or inhibit the social participation of women as it affects the accessibility of services such as health care, education, shopping centres, banks, post offices, and public transport. This report documents the results of data entered in the Women’s Health Matters Safety Mapping Tool from June 2016 to August 2018. It includes findings about where women feel safe or unsafe in public spaces in the ACT, why they feel or unsafe and how gender effects the way individuals use and experience public spaces.
2019 The stories of ACT women in prison: 10 years after the opening of the AMC Read more »
This report tells the stories of eleven women who were imprisoned in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) and who shared their stories with Women’s Health Matters. Here they are able to share not only their histories and experiences that led to imprisonment, but their hopes for the future too.
November 2018 Physical activity and healthy eating promotion to ACT women: A guide to getting it right Read more »
Government and community organisations put significant resources into health promotion campaigns that encourage people in the ACT to eat healthy and exercise regularly. This report explores how life stages, life roles and the social determinants of women’s lives impact on the ability of ACT women to improve and maintain healthy behaviours such as healthy eating and physical activity. This study helps identify factors that impact the success or failure of health promotion campaigns.
October 2018 Improving choices and options: The views of ACT women about their sexual and reproductive health needs Read more »
This report is the third in a series that looks at the views and experiences of health and health needs of ACT women, with the aim of improving options and access to services. It explores which information and services ACT women access for their sexual and reproductive health, including contraception, STIs, access to health screening and termination of pregnancy. The study identifies barriers to access and determines what works and does not work for these women.
June 2018 Hidden disadvantage among women in the ACT Read more »
This report looks at the socioeconomic determinants of health, such as access to housing, caring and responsibilities, social exclusion and employment in the context of Canberra, where the high average income and education levels may mask hidden pockets of disadvantage. Working with data and maps from the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM), Women’s Health Matters identified areas of disadvantage for women in the ACT. The report aims to highlight what work needs to be done to ensure equal access of opportunities for all ACT women.
February 2018 The views and experiences of younger ACT women (aged 18-50) about accessing supports and services for chronic disease: “I don’t have the spoons for that …” Read more »
This report is the second in a series that looks at the views and experiences of health and health needs of ACT women, with the aim of improving options and access to services. In the ACT there is a gap in understanding of how the experience of chronic conditions might differ between men and women, and in understanding the needs of women who are experiencing the onset of chronic conditions in early adulthood. This study explores the experiences of women aged 18-50 living with chronic disease in the ACT, how they access supports and services and potential barrier to access.
February 2018 ACT women’s views about their health: ACT women’s health matters! Read more »
This report is the first in a series that looks at the views and experiences of health and health needs of ACT women, with the aim of improving options and access to services. The best health outcomes for women will be achieved if health responses are tailored to meet the local needs and priorities of different groups. Previously, very few studies and policies have included local ACT data relating to women, this study aims to remedy that by exploring ACT women’s access to services, supports, and information; and the barriers to maintaining their health.
July 2017 Beyond Crisis: Working with Canberra’s professional firms and businesses to make safer choices easier for survivors of domestic violence Read more »
Support is needed for the women and men who fall through the gap in assistance after escaping domestic violence, because they are between the funded crisis responses and having fully re-established their lives; and are unable to access the services available in the ACT for low-income earners. This report describes the Women’s Health Matters project, supported by the Domestic Violence Crisis Service, to engage and start conversations with ACT business and industry about the impacts of domestic violence. The project focuses on the role that business and industry can play in identifying opportunities and solutions outside the ACT Government’s crisis homelessness and/or family violence service system.
June 2016 Not a label. More than a diagnosis – Borderline Personality Disorder: Exploring the lived experiences of act women and service providers Read more »
This research was initiated in response to concerns raised by the Women and Mental Health Working Group (WMHWG), facilitated by Women’s Health Matters, who heard reports of refusal of service, discriminatory treatment, stigma and lack of access to appropriate support services for women diagnosed with BPD in the ACT. This report investigates the experiences of women in the ACT who have been diagnosed or labelled with BPD and the experiences of service providers who support them. The key themes include: different levels of understanding of BPD between women, service providers and health professionals; difficulties with locating information and resources; stigma; barriers to recovery; and pathways to recovery.
May 2016 Women and maternal care in the ACT consultation report Read more »
With over 5,500 women giving birth every year in the ACT, ensuring quality and accessible maternal services is essential. This report summarises the results of consultations with women in the ACT and Queanbeyan who had given birth for the first time. The study discusses the women’s feedback and stories relating to pregnancy, giving birth and post-natal care, providing an important analysis of maternity services in the ACT and surrounding region.
April 2016 Hear me out: Women’s experiences of seeking help for domestic violence in the ACT Read more »
As domestic violence (DV) manifests in a range of coercive controlling behaviours, there is a need for flexibility in the responses from government and community, and a need to hear directly from women about their experiences and needs related to DV. This report presents a summary of findings from Women’s Health Matters research into women’s experiences of seeking help for domestic violence in the ACT. The key themes in this study are: a spectrum of violence needs a spectrum of responses; responses need to ensure that victims feel protected not punished, and that perpetrators are held to account; as help-seeking journeys change over time, so too do women’s needs.
September 2015 Transforming domestic violence support in the ACT: Improving accessibility for LGBTIQ clients Read more »
There is evidence to suggest that a significant proportion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ) communities will experience domestic violence (DV) of some kind in the course of their lives. This report looks at the experiences of LGBTIQ community members in the ACT who have experienced DV either directly or indirectly, exploring how they came to identify experiences of DV, their motivations for seeking or not seeking assistance, and their experiences with seeking help. Issues identified in the report include barriers to accessing services and not identifying experiences as domestic and family violence.
2013 “Where do older ACT women feel unsafe, and why?” Results of an Older Women’s Safety Audit Project Read more »
Women are more likely to live alone in older age making them vulnerable to increased isolation and reduced participation in community life. This study highlights the way urban planning decisions affect the ability of older women to engage safely in the ACT’s public spaces. Using the findings from a literature review, online survey, focus groups and safety audits, the report contains suggestions and solutions from older ACT women to enhance public safety.
2012 Strong women, great city: A snapshot of findings from a survey of ACT’s women with disabilities Read more »
In 2012 the ACT had 31,542 women with a disability who made up 56.4% of the total population with disabilities. This report presents a snapshot of findings from a survey of women with disabilities in the ACT conducted by Women’s Health Matters and Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT). The study complements existing disability data while focusing on the lived experiences of ACT women with disabilities, an area where data did not exist. This research is a step toward greater understanding of the day-to-day reality for these women and offers insight into their specific experiences and concerns.
November 2011 The Experiences of Women Forgotten: Australians and Care Leavers A Literature Review Read more »
This literature review was published to coincide with the second anniversary of the National Apology to the Forgotten Australians. The review explores existing literature about experiences of Care Leavers/Forgotten Australians, focusing on their health and wellbeing experiences and needs, and the impacts of these experiences on them in their adult lives.
October 2011 Older women and social connectedness: A snapshot of the ACT Read more »
In 2011, the ACT had one of the fastest-growing populations of people aged 60 years and over in Australia. This report explores the link between social isolation and disadvantage, and mental and physical health and wellbeing for older women in the ACT. The key issues impacting older women’s social connectedness identified are health status, financial status, carer responsibilities, retirement, relocation, safety, transport and volunteering.
September 2011 Peer Support for Women with Mental Health Issues: The Views of ACT Women Read more »
In 2011 in the ACT an estimated 3,000 women accessed mental health services annually and approximately a third of these women had ongoing connections with the sector. This report aims to identify and document best practice peer support models internationally, nationally and locally as well as identify and document the needs and experiences of women participating in peer support in the ACT.
June 2011 It Goes with The Territory! The Views of ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women About Health And Wellbeing Information Read more »
This report shares the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, exploring how they seek health and wellbeing information in the ACT and what barriers exist for obtaining such information. This is a companion report to the July 2010 report, It goes with the territory! ACT women’s views about health and wellbeing information
June 2011 It Goes with The Territory! The Views of ACT Women from CALD Backgrounds About Health And Wellbeing Information Read more »
This report shares the experiences of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women, exploring how they seek health and wellbeing information in the ACT and what barriers exist for obtaining such information. This is a companion report to the July 2010 report, It goes with the territory! ACT women’s views about health and wellbeing information
April 2011 It Goes with The Territory! The Views of ACT Women Who Are Mental Health Carers About Health and Wellbeing Information Read more »
This report shares the experiences of women who are mental health carers, exploring the unique challenges they face in accessing health and wellbeing information in the ACT. This is a companion report to the July 2010 report, It goes with the territory! ACT women’s views about health and wellbeing information
April 2011 It Goes with The Territory! The Views of Older ACT Women About Health and Wellbeing Information Read more »
This report shares the experiences of the older women (aged 60 years +), exploring how they seek out health and wellbeing information in the ACT and what barriers exist for obtaining such information. This is a companion report to the July 2010 report, It goes with the territory! ACT women’s views about health and wellbeing information
April 2011 It Goes with The Territory! The Views of Young ACT Women About Health and Wellbeing Information Read more »
This report shares the experiences of the young women (aged 15 to 29 years), exploring their unique concerns when choosing health and wellbeing information sources, such as confidentiality and ease of access. This is a companion report to the July 2010 report, It goes with the territory! ACT women’s views about health and wellbeing information
February 2011 It Goes with The Territory! The Views of ACT Women with Disabilities About Health And Wellbeing Information Read more »
This report shares the experiences of women with disabilities, exploring how health and wellbeing information in the ACT can become more accessible. This is a companion report to the July 2010 report, It goes with the territory! ACT women’s views about health and wellbeing information
September 2010 Women mental health carers in the ACT: Preliminary survey findings Read more »
For women caring for loved ones living with mental health issues, the challenges associated with balancing caring responsibilities and the rest of their lives are unique to those faced by other groups of carers. This report presents the preliminary findings from a survey of ACT women who were mental health carers. The study aimed to establish a quantitative and qualitative data set comprising information related to carer health and wellbeing, their social support networks and their involvement in their local community and decision-making processes.
August 2010 Sudanese and mon cultural awareness training: Final report and evaluation Read more »
Following a Women’s Health Matters report identifying enablers and barriers to achieving social connectedness with CALD women in the ACT, we hosted a forum for ACT service providers to discuss the next steps required to move forward with the findings of the report. This report shares the key findings from the meeting and presents the cultural training program that was developed as a result of consultations. The key areas covered by the training program are culture, conflict, camps and Canberra.
July 2010 It goes with the Territory! ACT women’s views about health and wellbeing information Read more »
Since women are the main family decision makers for health issues and the main family carers, their access to appropriate health and wellbeing information is crucial. This central report explores the views and preferences of ACT women in accessing health and wellbeing information, and how this information is transformed into knowledge. The key findings demonstrate that barriers to accessing health services and information, including barriers for preventive health, are part of the social determinants of women’s lives. The central report has been enhanced by six companion reports that highlight the needs and preferences of particular groups of women in the ACT who took part in our survey and focus groups.
June 2010 Out of reach – Women living with mental health issues in the ACT: What hinders their access to legal service? Read more »
This report is a joint effort between Women’s Health Matters and the ACT Women and Mental Health Working Group (WMHWG). The study aims to identify and document the lived experience of women with mental health issues in accessing legal advice, support, representation and advocacy in the ACT, including feedback from the service providers and community-based organisations that support them. The report highlights the personal and systematic barriers to accessing services and seeks to encourage discussion about the need for services to respond appropriately to the needs of women.
April 2009 Culturally and linguistically diverse women in the ACT: Enablers and barriers to achieving social connectedness Read more »
Certain groups within society are more at risk of poor health and wellbeing as a consequence of social factors, and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) are one such group. This report develops a profile of CALD women in the ACT with the aim of determining the factors that are contributing to or limiting their levels of social connectedness and wellbeing. It is intended to serve as a sister report to Marginalised and Isolated Women in the Australian Capital Territory (2008) [link to report] and Social Determinants of Women’s Health in the Australian Capital Territory (2008)
2009 ACT Women and Prisons: Invisible bars, the stories behind the stats Read more »
This report presents the stories of ACT women with a variety of lived prison and institutional experiences, including juvenile detention centre, mental health/psychiatric facilities and children’s homes. The study also shares the experiences of service providers who support these women, with the aim that the report findings will be used by counsellors, social workers, case managers and other support professionals to better meet the needs of women with lived prison experience.
2009 Women with disabilities accessing crisis services in the ACT Read more »
Crisis services and programs that address the unique needs of women with disabilities are extremely limited. This report documents the findings from a project that aimed to explore current practices, raise awareness and assist domestic violence and crisis services in the ACT to become more accessible for women with disabilities. The project was a collaboration between Women’s Health Matters, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) and Women with Disabilities ACT (WWDACT). A key outcome of the project was the development of best practice principles for service providers.
September 2008 Social determinants of women’s health and wellbeing in the ACT Read more »
This report was commissioned with the purpose of responding to the knowledge deficit on the health and wellbeing of ACT women, with the aim to support the government and community to make evidenced based policy and service provision decisions. The focus of the report is women’s health in the ACT, particularly women who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. It takes account of the major causes of health inequalities, including income, educational level and literacy, occupation or employment status, social status within the community and has a particular focus on women who are socioeconomically disadvantaged.
February 2008 Marginalised and isolated women in the ACT: Risk, prevalence and service provision Read more »
This report presents a range of data that explores the nature of women’s marginalisation and isolation in the ACT and provides estimates of the number of ACT women who are at risk of falling into these categories. The study examines the concepts of marginalisation and isolation and the risk factors that have been identified as prevalent amongst marginalised and isolated ACT women. Its aim is to facilitate greater understanding of women’s marginalisation and isolation in the ACT, and to work towards improved support for women within this target group.