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New Report from Jean Hailes Highlights Urgent Need for Increased Workplace Support for Women's Health

Media releases 21 Feb 2024

A new report released today by Jean Hailes for Women's Health signals a need for improved workplace communication and support for women’s health concerns.

The report, from the 2023 National Women's Health Survey, provides a compelling case for fostering flexible work environments where women feel supported to discuss and manage their health needs without fear of discrimination.

The nationally representative findings from more than 3,200 women show that:

  • 67% of Australian women support additional paid sick or personal leave for all people
  • 63% of Australian women are in favour of additional paid leave for menstrual issues
  • 62% of Australian women expressed similar support for menopause leave.

However, the findings also show that:

  • more than four in five women believe that employers or workmates may not be understanding if they were to request leave for such health concerns
  • more than three-quarters of women believe employers will use menstrual and menopause leave as a reason to discriminate against women.

Dr. Sarah White, the CEO of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, said it is vital for workplaces to be flexible to support women in the workforce.

"Workplaces need to be proactive in their support for women's health. This involves creating supportive working environments to discuss health needs, embracing flexibility and offering tailored support for women navigating various health challenges."

"Flexibility in the workplace is not merely a perk but a necessity, especially as many women find themselves managing responsibilities spanning from parenting to caring for elderly parents."

Despite the backing for leave for menstrual and menopausal issues found in the survey, Dr White cautions that this does not mean women only support leave for menopause or menstruation.

“Women say they support menstrual, and menopause leave because we asked specifically about those issues. However, women also support additional paid leave for anyone managing a health issue.

“Every woman's health issue is valid, and it would be unfair if workplace flexibility was to prioritise menstruation or menopausal over, for example, endometriosis or fibromyalgia.”

Dr. White believes that any discussion about women's health leave must include conditions that affect women disproportionately, like migraines and pelvic pain, and not just conditions that affect women only.

“A comprehensive approach is key in addressing the spectrum of women's health concerns. It is crucial to champion women's health needs at all stages of their professional lives.”

“We want to see workplaces that support women with flexible policies and access to leave when grappling with all health issues, be it periods, menopause, or any other health concern that impacts a woman’s ability to work.”

The release of the report also highlighted the need to shift societal attitudes and normalise discussions around women's health.

“The goal is simple—foster an environment where supporting health is a priority, and where flexibility is not just a perk but a right for all.”

Dr. White also noted the need to explore the beliefs and attitudes of specific subgroups of women in rural and regional Australia, culturally diverse communities, women with disabilities, the LGBTIQA+ community, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

For media inquiries, please contact Edwina Pearse:

Mobile: 0417 303 811
Email: [email protected]

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Last updated: 
21 February 2024
 | 
Last reviewed: 
23 July 2024