A call out to the women in our community – we know the pandemic has impacted you disproportionately, as GPs we are here to help

I want to take a moment to pause and reflect on some sobering statistics

The Grattan institute has recently released the following:

  • Women lost jobs at double the rate than men
  • Women shouldered a disproportionate increase in unpaid work.
  • Women were less likely to get government support (short term casual employees in the hardest hit industries were mostly women)

The pandemic has also seen significant increases in domestic violence with an almost 7% increase in family violence, assault, sexual assault and harassment being recorded by Monash University during the initial lockdown period. Conversations with local staff of our support services indicate they remain under considerable pressure.

As GPs we understand how hard it is to discuss, we really do. Assisting patients to navigate managing unsafe and challenging environments is however part of our skillset.

If you are reading this and you too are impacted please reach out, try to connect with a GP. It’s ok to take a while to feel comfortable discussing domestic violence, a good way to start a long-term relationship with a GP is to search our GP profiles and then book in for a ‘new patient’ appointment. There doesn’t need to be an urgent medical matter to deal with, your emotional wellbeing is incredibly important. If you are hesitant think about whether you may be due for a preventative heath check – is your cervical screening check up to date? When did you last have a sexual health check? Do you need advice on contraception or family planning? Do you need a skin cancer check or a healthy heart check? If you have children do they need a check up? The first move is often the hardest – as GPs we absolutely get that.

Whilst assisting patients manage distressing physical and emotional abuse is a skill all GPs have we realise that women are disproportionately impacted. We have a number of GPs who have an interest in Women’s health. We also have GPs who have advanced skills in mental health. Looking at GP profiles in these subgroups may be helpful if you don’t yet have a regular GP.

We have a number of support organisations available our community. 1800RESPECT is our national sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service.

Other Helplines are DV Connect Womensline, DV Connect Mensline, Kids Helpline, Lifeline, Policelink . In an emergency please call triple zero (000).

Whilst in Australia we are in a very fortunate position with regards to the pandemic the ongoing effects continue to be felt. The impact will continue to be felt for years to come.

  • Women in vulnerable groups remain underemployed compared to men (especially single parents)
  • Women face longer term financial impacts related to the compounding effect of a pandemic related break in employment on top of other career breaks. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been added to the average $2 million lifetime earnings gap between men and women.

Acknowledging and discussing gender inequality is important. There appears to be a growing momentum for change within our communities. GPs play a pivotal role in supporting our female patients. I would especially encourage our female health care workers and Doctor patients to connect with (or find) your GP. Now is the time to ‘choose to challenge’.