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Victoria will launch Australia-first women’s pain inquiry

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The Victorian Government will set up an inquiry into how the state's healthcare system addresses women's pain.
Victoria launches women's pain inquiry

Victoria will launch an inquiry into women’s pain later this month.

It coincides with the release of new data, which found 40% of women across the state live with chronic pain.

The inquiry will focus on women’s experience, and how the state’s healthcare system addresses pain caused by periods, pregnancy, and endometriosis.

Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said an expert-led panel would examine what she called a “systemic gender pain gap”.

Survey

The Victorian Government surveyed over 1,770 people last year as part of broader efforts to identify gaps in women’s healthcare. The survey was inclusive of trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse people “who may experience… gender-based discrepancies in care.”

Around half of those surveyed said pain associated with periods affected their health and wellbeing. One in three said they have a health condition (like ongoing migraines, cramping and endometriosis) that affects their ability to work and keep a job.

Healthcare

One third of respondents reported feeling “stressed and frustrated” after receiving “insensitive and disrespectful” healthcare advice.

One participant described being prescribed antidepressants when she was suffering acute pelvic pain, only to later discover she had advanced endometriosis — a disease where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing severe pain.

The inquiry

The Victorian Government is establishing the inquiry in response to the survey findings.

Premier Jacinta Allan also said the findings “won’t be a mic drop moment for the majority of Victoria’s population”.

Additionally, she said “It’s time we stopped treating women’s health like some kind of niche issue. We deserve to have our pain believed and relieved.”

Next steps

Women across Victoria are invited to make submissions to the pain inquiry.

It’ll be led by the Victorian Women’s Health Advisory Council, a body charged with improving healthcare services and accessibility for women.

Submissions open on 30 January.

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