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Managing PCOS in Indigenous Communities: a community-led approach

Jean Hailes news 22 Mar 2022
Aboriginal health worker

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and Alukura Women’s Health Service (part of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress health services) are working in partnership with local women and health professionals to respond to high rates of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. This project has been funded by the Commonwealth Government as part of the National Women’s Health Strategy health promotion grants program.

PCOS is a common hormonal condition that affects one in ten women of reproductive age, and up to one in six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women [1]. It can cause a range of symptoms including irregular periods or no periods, acne, excess hair growth on the face and body, and weight gain. Women with PCOS are also more likely to experience anxiety and depression as well as fertility issues, and have increased risk factors for chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Despite a high level of need, there is a lack of culturally responsive, accessible PCOS resources for Aboriginal women and health professionals in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and surrounding communities.

Taking a community-led approach, this project aims to:

  • increase awareness of PCOS among Aboriginal women in Mparntwe and surrounding communities and the health professionals that work with these women
  • create accessible, relevant, and culturally responsive PCOS resources for women
  • increase health professionals’ ability to diagnose and manage PCOS in primary care.

The project is guided by a steering committee comprising representatives from Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Alukura Women’s Health Service, and NT Health.

The project is taking a community-led approach, and project outputs will be determined through consultation with Aboriginal women, Aboriginal Health Workers and other health professionals. Initial consultations have taken place during 2021, with further consultations with women and Aboriginal Health Workers to take place across 2022, including face-to-face workshops in Mparntwe during March and April.

We are currently recruiting Aboriginal Health Workers, Aboriginal Health Practitioners and Aboriginal Liaison Officers who work with women in the Northern Territory to take part in consultations, telling us about the resources, training or other support that would help them to learn about PCOS and support women who may have the condition.

For more information about this exciting project, including how you can get involved, contact Rose Dupleix, Community and Health Professionals Project Officer, at [email protected].

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. 

Boyle, J. A., Cunningham, J., OˈDea, K., Dunbar, T., & Norman, R. J. (2012). Prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome in a sample of Indigenous women in Darwin, Australia. Medical journal of Australia, 196(1), 62-66.
Last updated: 
17 January 2024
Last reviewed: 
22 March 2022