Catherine Henry Lawyers release new free women’s health law eBook

Catherine Henry Lawyers release new free women’s health law eBook

Local firm, Catherine Henry Lawyers has produced a free eBook to help women better understand their legal rights in relation to women’s health issues.

Your Body Your Health: A Legal Guide to Women’s Health was launched at a forum at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle during Women’s Health Week.

The community resource was written by the Principal Lawyer, Catherine Henry, and the firm’s other female health lawyers.

More than 70 people gathered at the forum to discuss how the law can support women’s health. A panel of Hunter women discussed the challenges facing women in health and what can be done to advance women’s interests, rights, and outcomes.

The panellists were Member for Wallsend, Sonia Hornery MP; Maroba Aged Care CEO, Viv Allanson; Victims of Crime Assistance League Newcastle CEO, Kerrie Thompson; GP Specialist in Reproductive and Sexual Health, Dr Phoebe Walsh; and Oasis Solutions Principal, former nurse and academic, Dr Shirley Shulz-Robinson.

Catherine said for three decades she has litigated cases for women experiencing poor or avoidable health outcomes. She has advocated for women whose health concerns have neither been taken seriously or ignored, lobbied for reform to health care rights such as informed birth choices and access to abortion and supported women who’ve had primary responsibility for aged parents bringing focus to unacceptable aged care practices.

“Our health law team see the whole range of health issues that women face,” Catherine said.

“We wanted to write a comprehensive guide – from before the cradle to grave – to help women know their legal rights in relation to health issues.”

Topics covered in the book include abortion, contraception, pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, healthy ageing, chronic pain, sexual and other violence, mental health, making complaints, and aged care.

“The book has had a long gestation period because there is a lot of information to cover. We will continue to update it to provide a useful and comprehensive resource,” Catherine said.

“Women live longer and have worse health outcomes than men. They use the health system more than men.”

Catherine said women have long battled misogyny in the healthcare sector and the legal system with women’s health issues and their impacts not taken as seriously as they should be.

“Women have historically been treated as guinea pigs by the medical industry with devastating consequences. Implants, hormone replacement therapy and vaginal mesh are three examples,” Catherine said.

The panel agreed that access to health and aged care is a major issue for women, particularly for women in regional and rural areas.

Shirley said access to multi-disciplinary care via community health centres and mental health nurses has diminished. She said there needs to be a greater focus on providing culturally appropriate and gender appropriate care.

“The casualisation of the health workforce made it difficult for staff to provide proper care to patients,” Shirley said.

Viv said women were over-represented in caring for older people as family members and aged care services. She said while this task is rewarding, it can be a burden on women financially and on their own well-being. She called on governments and citizens to realise more funding in health and aged care is needed.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect things to get better,” Viv said.

“As a society we need to better look after people needing health and aged care and those who care for them.”

On the question of what the audience and other members of the community can do to help improve women’s health, the panel was unanimous. They agreed governments needed to invest more in services and pay attention to what front line services and staff say are the problems and solutions and that there needs to be more studies into adverse events and more public reporting of data on those events and other aspects of health care.

“When things go wrong it is the person on the front line who is blamed but the issue is often systemic,” Shirley said.

Sonia encouraged people to make their views on health and aged care known rather than saying nothing. She said people should make representations on specific matters to health care providers and politicians.


IMAGE | The eBook launch at a forum at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle during Women’s Health Week.

Catherine Henry Lawyers

The team at Newcastle-based Catherine Henry Lawyers are highly experienced specialists in health and medical law, relationship and family law, elder law, wills and estates, property buying and selling, as well as criminal and traffic law.

Their clients tell them that their lawyers are exceptional listeners, supportive and accessible. They make sure your voice is heard.

You can trust Catherine Henry Lawyers to give you robust representation and level-headed advice. That’s why they are the preferred referral firm for many other lawyers.

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