Survey reveals Aussie women are suffering in silence

A new inquiry has been launched into the ‘gender pain gap’.
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Australian women have been quietly living with pain for decades.

But change is finally afoot.

An inquiry into women’s pain is set to be held in Victoria; the first of its kind Australia wide.

It comes after a survey conducted with Victorian women revealed that two in five respondents suffer from chronic pain.

WATCH NOW: Bindi Irwin provides another update on her endometriosis recovery. Article continues after video.

Victorian premier Jacinta Allan wasn’t surprised by the survey results.

She has been vocal about her own struggles with endometriosis, a disease in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside it.

“The survey is so important because it’s about drawing on those experiences of women – hearing those stories and recognising that there is a ‘gender pain gap’,” Ms Allan tells New Idea.

“This won’t be a mic drop moment for the majority of Victoria’s population, because every woman has either experienced it for herself or knows someone who has. But now we have the evidence to prove it.”

Featuring data collated from more than 1700 Victorians, the report also includes participants’ personal stories.

Victorian premier press conference
Victorian premier Jacinta Allan told New Idea ‘womens pain needs to be believed.’

One woman has shared she was prescribed antidepressants when she had acute pelvic pain that was stopping her sleeping and working.

She was later diagnosed with advanced endometriosis.

Ms Allan said the Victorian government is “continuing to listen to women and look at the changes we need to make”, which is why the inquiry is being launched.

She further explained they wanted to “understand” what needs to be done within the community, to ensure “women are heard and responded to”.

“It’s time we stopped treating women’s health like some kind of niche issue,” Ms Allan said. “We deserve to have our pain believed and relieved.”

woman at drs
Women often feel like their pan is ignored

The gender pain gap is even worse for women of colour.

A 2022 study exploring communication experiences in pain management of First Nations people in two rural communities found participants experienced discrimination from healthcare providers.

This deterred people from seeking care for their pain.

According to Painaustralia CEO Carol Bennett, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are at higher risk of living with painful conditions.

These communities said they did not feel culturally safe in hospitals, especially when there was no First Nations healthcare worker to provide support and alleviate their concerns.

News of the inquiry is being welcomed by the state’s female population.

women speaking up
Women of all ages are being asked to share their submissions to the inquiry.

Twenty-one-year-old Indi Wollard told the Carrie & Tommy radio show that, when she was 11, one doctor suggested the only way she would “fix” her endometriosis pain would be by having a baby.

“When I was 10 or 11, I got my first period. It was super painful,” Indi said.

“I would go to doctors, and they’d dismiss me saying it’s all in my head.”

Looking to the future, Indi shared the inquiry announcement is a glimmer of hope for women suffering or being ignored.

“I have hope for the younger generation now. It’s better that it’s getting more recognised, and groups out there that are making it more recognisable,” she said.

“But I’m angry because I was left without getting any help.”

Submissions can be made to the Inquiry into Women’s Pain here. 

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