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Women's Health Survey 2020

Our sixth annual national Women’s Health Survey reveals the health needs and behaviours of women living in Australia, as they share their experiences of the past 12 months.

The survey was developed to identify emerging issues and trends in women’s health, and to inform health promotion activities (including Jean Hailes’ annual national Women’s Health Week campaign) so that they more effectively respond to the specific health and information needs of women in Australia.

Here are some highlights of the survey results, and you'll also find the full report, snapshot one pager, and media kit downloads.

(Read the survey media release.)

National Women’s Health Survey 2020, a healthier future for all women in Australia.

Full report

Health needs and health information

general health purple icon
  • 39.1% of women could not afford healthcare when they needed it.
  • 1 in 4 women aged 18-24 did not know where to go to access health services.
  • 31.1% of women in rural & remote regions could not get medical appointments when they needed one.
  • 31.7% of women aged 25-44 did not have enough time to attend health check appointments
  • Women with a disability and LGBTIQ women were more than twice as likely to experience discrimination in accessing healthcare

What we often see is a generalist response and our communities fall through the net because we know from our data that LGBTI women and communities prefer to access services that are highly skilled in meeting their health needs.”

Nicky Bath, CEO, National LGBTI Health Alliance.

Reproductive and maternal health

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  • More than one in three women had experienced a miscarriage, and 3% had experienced a stillbirth.
  • Nearly 60% of these women did not receive enough information and support; this rose to two thirds of women in rural and remote areas (63.9%) and was even higher for women with a disability (69.7%).
  • 35.6% (one in three women aged 25-44) said they would consider freezing their eggs to attempt to have children later in life. Just 1% of women in this age group had already frozen eggs.

There are 103,000 miscarriages a year in Australia – that is, 282 families every day will lose a baby to miscarriage. There is a real lack of support because of the social stigma that surrounds miscarriage. We hear heartbreaking stories from women who lack clear emotional and mental wellbeing pathways to help them to recover.”

Samantha Payne, co-Founder and CEO, The Pink Elephants Support Network

Physical and mental health

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  • One in three women reported having symptoms of anxiety (33.2%) and one in four reported feeling depressed (28.7%).
  • Respondents who identified as women with a disability and LGBTIQ were more likely to have both anxiety and depression.
  • Two out of five women considered themselves a healthy weight, while 43.7% considered themselves overweight and 12.4% obese.
  • 49.2% of women with a disability said their health was poor or very poor, compared to 10.5% of those with no disability.

“This very valuable data will enable us to identify those who are most vulnerable and to understand what aspects of their lives might be able to be changed to improve their mental health.”

Professor Jane Fisher AO, Finkel Professor of Global & Women’s Health, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Intimate partner violence

Whs icon verbal abuse
  • Almost one in four (23.9%) respondents reported some form of intimate partner violence from a current or ex-partner.
  • 11.1% (1 in 10 women) reported having a controlling partner. The figure was higher among women with a disability (18.9%) and those reporting a worse financial situation than before COVID-19 (15.3%).
  • 19.5% of women experienced emotional abuse.
  • Physical (4.3%) and sexual violence (5.5%) was highest among women aged 18-24.

Stereotypically we think that all violence is the physical act, whereas the most common forms of violence experienced by women are emotional abuse and controlling behaviours. These are very harmful things to experience in intimate relationships and as the survey has shown, these behaviours are much more common than has been generally believed.”

Professor Jane Fisher AO, Finkel Professor of Global & Women’s Health, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Impact of COVID-19 and bushfires

Whs icon covid fires
  • One in five women reported feeling physically affected by bushfire smoke.
  • 4.3% of women reported that their home, or that of a close family member or friend, was damaged or destroyed by bushfire.
  • Drinking more alcohol since COVID-19 was highest among women aged 25-44 (24.4%).
  • One in three respondents (33.6%) reported that their health was worse than before COVID-19.

This is an important study which sheds light on key health issues, trends, concerns and outcomes.”

Ross Joyce, CEO, Australia Federation of Disability Organisations
Whsurvey cover 2020

National Women’s Health Survey 2020

Understanding health information needs and health behavior of women in Australia

View the full report

For more information

For media interviews or more information, please contact Jo Roberts on phone 0416 156 566 or via email

Support organisations

Anxiety and depression
Miscarriage and stillbirth
Intimate partner violence
LGBTIQ health
Women with disabilities