ARCSHS Professor Kate Seear appointed to two significant roles

ARCSHS Professor Kate Seear has been appointed as Deputy Chair of landmark Victorian Government Inquiry into Women's Pain, and to the Victorian Government Women's Health Advisory Council.

Congratulations to Professor Kate Seear, who has been appointed to two significant roles supporting the Victorian Government’s package of activities under the Women’s Health and Wellbeing Program.

Professor Seear has been appointed to the Victorian Government’s Women’s Health Advisory Council and as Deputy Chair in a landmark Inquiry into Women’s Pain.

Professor Seear has been appointed to the Council in recognition of her expertise on women’s health, which includes her pioneering early research on endometriosis; her more recent work on gender, health, stigma, and human rights; and her work over many years as a practising lawyer.

"I'm honoured to be appointed as the Deputy Chair of this landmark inquiry and very much looking forward to the opportunity to work with an amazing bunch of women, alongside the Minister and her team. Unfortunately, women's complaints of pain have long been trivialised or downplayed, dismissed as not credible, exaggerated, or all in their heads," Professor Seear said.

"The Inquiry is an opportunity for us to tackle the root causes of medical mistreatment, stigma and discrimination. I am especially proud that the Inquiry will give women the opportunity to tell their stories, and that the Inquiry is giving women a voice. Listening to women is an important step in addressing what Premier Allan has described as the 'gender pain gap'."

About the Women's Health and Wellbeing Program and the Inquiry into Women's Pain

The Women's Health and Wellbeing Program has been established in response to persistent challenges that women and girls face in having their health care needs met, including: not having their experiences of chronic pain recognised, significant diagnostic delays in pain-related conditions such as endometriosis, and encountering other barriers when accessing support for their physical and mental health needs.

The Victorian Government’s Program is being overseen by the newly-appointed Victorian Women’s Health Advisory Council, which is chaired by Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas. In January 2024, Premier Jacinta Allan announced that as part of the Program, Victoria would hold a landmark public inquiry into the treatment of women’s pain. Professor Seear has been appointed as Deputy Chair of the Inquiry into Women’s Pain Sub-Committee.

Announcing the Inquiry and the establishment of the Inquiry into Women’s Pain Sub-Committee, Premier Allan explained:

“Many women in our community know that there is a gendered pain gap. They know that their pain is real and they also know that for too long, that pain hasn’t both been believed and received the treatment it needs and deserves through our health system … That is why the government is placing a significant amount of attention and resources on this issue, because when we support women’s health, we support the health of all Victorians.”

Minister Thomas noted that the Inquiry into Women’s Pain would build on results from an online survey of over 1,700 women conducted in late 2023 by the government’s consultation arm. The survey identified a range of challenges facing women, girls, non-binary and gender diverse people, including ‘shame and stigma’ around menstruation and related conditions.

The survey also found that nearly 50 per cent of participants said that sexual and reproductive health issues like endometriosis affected their health and wellbeing, often with significant mental health implications, and that the impact was pronounced for Aboriginal and LGBTIQA+ people.

The Inquiry into Women’s Pain, Sub-Committee and Women’s Health Advisory Council will together play a pivotal role in listening to and hearing the voices of women and girls who have experienced pain in order to inform improved models of care and service delivery for pain management. Public submissions to the Inquiry into Women’s Pain opened on 30 January 2024 and will close on 12 March 2024.

To make a submission, use the template available here and email your submission to paininquiry@safercare.vic.gov.au.