There is no doubt that substantial efforts are being made to support increased investments in the well-being and health of women. The link between women’s health and community wellbeing is well researched.
Compared with current trends, (increased investment scenario)... estimates that a total of 5 million maternal deaths, 147 million child deaths, and 32 million stillbirths can be prevented in 2013–35 in 74 high-burden countries.1
In Australia we know that addressing women’s health through a gendered lens has economic and social benefits to our community including greater social cohesion, increased productivity and GDP . The Victorian Government has four significant policy areas that impact the work of WHISE. These are:
Setting out priorities and vision to improve the health and wellbeing of Victorians over the long term. For the purposes of this scan, the plan defines the key challenges that the Government anticipates2:
Setting out a framework for enduring and sustained action over time to reduce violence against women and deliver gender equality. Founding reforms of the Strategy3are:
‘Free from Violence'4fulfils Recommendation 187 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. It is a key priority of the government’s 10-year plan to reform the family violence system under Ending family violence: Victoria’s plan for change.
WHISE recognizes that the practice of health promotion and primary prevention are evolving. To continue to be relevant health promotion can’t ignore the realities of community,the individual’s need for agency in their own lives, and the causes of health and social problems 16 from which risky behaviors arise.
Other risks to successful health promotion and primary prevention include siloed approaches from policy makers and policy structures, moving emphasis on short-term planning (as challenge when outcomes of primary prevention work are often over the long-term), a lack of coherence in approaches (sustained and multifaceted), sporadic national leadership on illness prevention and health promotion , and ongoing habit to focus on “health problems” rather than “health promotion” 19 and ubiquitous view of the overriding agency of individuals at the expense of appreciating the social determinants of health.
In terms of health promotion and primary prevention, current researchers and thinking are moving to a form of practice that recognizes the increasing levels of complexity in health inequality and, that the once simple pathways and equivalence where health equaled economic inequality need to now consider culture, psychosocial processes and the socio-political6.
health promotion workers will need to create integrated strategies that actually tackle “wicked problems” of which health inequity is one. These wicked problems often defy logic and are characterized by “having innumerable causes, (are) tough to describe, and (don’t) have a right answer”7.
However, what is also clear from our region, is that the dynamics of social and economic change will mean that practitioners will be confronted with more wicked problems. Health Promoters and Primary Prevention practitioners will need to build connections between policy, research and practice to generate better ways of building knowledge and skills for practice, response and policy8.
Collaboration will be key and the creation of meaningful equal partnerships of practice that achieve wide ranging social impact will be the mainstay of primary prevention work at the regional level.