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Five questions with Jean Hailes CEO Dr Sarah White

Jean Hailes news

This International Women’s Day, we ask our new CEO Dr Sarah White five quick-fire questions about women’s health in 2023.

Q1: In 2023 is women’s health still considered ‘taboo’?

Dr White: I think taboos around women’s health issues are starting to crumble. For example, we’re starting to see very open discussions of how menopause impacts women in their daily lives and the workplace. It won’t be long until menopause is talked about without shame as a ‘transition’, much like puberty. A world where a hot flush is no more than a yawn. Society will no longer expect women to hide their symptoms or frame menopause as a sign of ‘old age’.

Q2: In the age of misinformation, how do women know what is fact from fiction?

Dr White: Women are being inundated with ‘wellness solutions’ and advertisements for ‘potions and lotions’ that are not evidence-based or tested for safety and quality. This is something that Jean Hailes and other national peak bodies are discussing; we must counter misinformation and help women avoid falling victim to false promises.

Q3: Are women getting the medical support they need?

Dr White: Women have become powerful advocates, demanding better support and care from GPs for health issues like endometriosis and pelvic pain. The Australian Government announced they will open dedicated clinics for endometriosis and pelvic pain across Australia, which is terrific. However, we need every GP around Australia to be providing compassionate and evidence-based care, not just those in specialist clinics. In a recent Jean Hailes survey of 1,870 women with pelvic pain, many reported having a disappointing experience with their GP; they felt dismissed or that their symptoms were not taken seriously.

Q4: Have there been recent changes in women’s health that have made you feel hopeful?

Dr White: Oh, absolutely. For one thing, there has been a huge shift in how women’s health is being discussed by our governments. The governments of our two largest (by population) states included women’s health issues in their election commitments, which is extraordinary!

A new Council (known as the National Women’s Health Advisory Council) was also formed earlier this year to look at the unique challenges that women and girls face in our health system. I’m thrilled to be a part of that Council because it represents a fantastic opportunity to really dig into what changes we can make for all women.

Q5: What’s the key lesson you’ve learnt from working in women’s health?

Dr White: Listen and learn. This underpins everything that we do at Jean Hailes.

All rea­son­able steps have been tak­en to ensure the infor­ma­tion cre­at­ed by Jean Hailes Foun­da­tion, and pub­lished on this web­site is accu­rate as at the time of its creation. 

Last updated: 
17 January 2024
Last reviewed: 
25 May 2024