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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3881 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

This should include increasing the distribution of printed material for young women. This material should be written in various languages applicable to the district. The Multicultural Women's Advocacy Group informed the committee that there was a need for an increase in the number of female interpreters. These would assist women from non-English-speaking backgrounds. It also noted that present translation services do not have a wide enough range of languages to fulfil the need. The advocacy group pointed to the interpreting service offered in the Wollongong area. There, interpreters are employed on a contract basis. They are on call day and night, 24 hours a day, and are paid only for the work they do. The committee sees merit in this recommendation. It also recommends training of organisations to educate women from non-Caucasian backgrounds. This would include sexual and reproductive issues.

The committee also believes governments should liaise with their respective college and university campuses to provide student organisations appropriate material on women's health matters. These include relating to sensitive cultural issues such as religious taboos.

As far as the Australian indigenous population is concerned, the committee learned that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander numbers in the ACT are outpacing the rest of the country. Since 1991 the indigenous population in the ACT has risen by a staggering 125 per cent. This compares to the national average of 55 per cent, and by the end of June this year there were 3,576 indigenous people living in the ACT. The committee was disturbed to learn that the death rate for indigenous women is almost nine times that of non-indigenous women. The territory's own community-controlled Aboriginal health service's staff at Winnunga Nimmityjah pointed out that the health problems affecting indigenous women are the result of a number of factors. These include dislocation, alcohol misuse, poor nutrition, high tobacco use and socioeconomic barriers.

In general, the health of women in the ACT is better than the national average. However, there are a number of major concerning factors which present themselves. These include that one in 10 young women are underweight while at the other end of the spectrum one in 10 older women are either obese or overweight, and they consume harmful amounts of alcohol. Another statistic that showed itself was that a quarter of all women smoke.

The committee presents these findings as part of the overall snapshot of women's health. It notes a paper which was produced by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The paper concluded:

Understanding the sources of ill health for women means understanding how cultural and economic forces interact to undermine their social status.

As for the psychological wellbeing and mental health of women, the committee was told mainstream services are inadequate in dealing with these problems. This was because they did not have the cultural and social tools to earn the respect and trust of patients who need help. Thus, the committee recommends that the government discuss the problems with indigenous people and indigenous groups with a view to more adequately understanding the needs of disadvantaged indigenous women and meeting those needs.

In regard to the general health of women, a submission by the Women's Centre for Health pointed out that the subject cannot be dealt with in isolation. Rather, health is intertwined with work, family, leisure time and relationships, both in and away from the

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