National Women's Health Policy

A life course approach to health

Page last updated: 07 February 2011

A focus on women’s health across the life span was supported by the submissions, particularly the emphasis on critical transition points such as puberty, pregnancy and the postnatal period, and menopause and older age. Many submissions noted that a life course approach is essential for preventative health:

The strength of such an approach in developing the new policy is the focus it brings about on the context of women’s lives and the transitions and significant events occurring at different life stages that impact on health and well being from the formative years of infancy and childhood through adolescence, into adulthood and older age.
(Public Health Association Australia Submission p. 15)

Feedback from the consultations indicated a strong belief that age-appropriate information and services across a woman’s life will help women gain and keep control of their own health-management decisions. The submissions indicated that there are gaps remaining in critical services at key points in women’s lives which could inform future policy directions. Some examples of these from the submissions are:

The RACGP supports …[the life course] approach to the policy and believes that it should be applied to preventive initiatives and assessment of risk such as the Medicare health assessment items…the cost effectiveness and utility of MBS items for risk assessment coinciding with different life stages [could be explored] e.g. adolescence/young adult, preconception, premenopausal, menopausal and older women.
(Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Submission p. 10)

Fertility education enables each woman to avoid pregnancy and maximise her chance of achieving pregnancy. It also enables her to be better equipped to make informed life choices… Natural Fertility Australia believes there is a need for a continuum of services in fertility education; that sexual and reproductive health needs change throughout the lifespan and so too should sexual and reproductive health services.
(Natural Fertility Australia Submission p. 4)