Government renews funding for women's health study

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The federal government has announced it will fund the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) - Australia's largest health survey - for another three years.

Partners in the ALSWH, the University of Queensland and the University of Newcastle, will receive more than $8.58 million over the next three years. 

The government has funded the ALSWH since 1996. It continuously collects data on women’s health status and trends from across Australia.

Health minister Greg Hunt said, “For a quarter of a century, the ALSWH has played a leading role in nurturing our understanding of how health issues impact on the everyday lives of women, how women negotiate these issues, and the ways in which women engage with the health system.

“The study has been integral in guiding national approaches to developing services and supports that are tailored to women’s needs, and provide the best means of realising improved health outcomes for women, at all stages of their life.

“The new funding will allow the study to continue to fulfil this important function at a time where improvements in the women’s health space are being prioritised in response to the National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030.”

Minister for women Marise Payne added, “The views of everyday women have never been more valuable. Having such a robust and internationally renowned mechanism for informing national policy on women’s health is incredibly important.

“The study follows more than 57,000 women who are broadly representative of the entire Australian population, spanning four generations.

“The three original cohorts were women born in the years 1921-26, 1945-51 and 1973-78. A new cohort of more than 17,000 women born in the years 1989-95—who were then aged 18 to 23 years old — was added in 2013.

“As well as continuing the study, the additional funding will finance a project to improve the representation of women from South East Asia, North East Asia, and Southern Asia. This will focus on women in the two younger cohorts, who are currently aged 25 to 31 years old and 42 to 47 years old.”

The study assesses physical and emotional health, the use of health services, health behaviours and risk factors, use of time, socio-economic factors, as well as life stages and event.

Data from the study is also made available for national and international research use. Since the study began, it has been used in more than 800 scientific publications.

During 2020, the ALSWH has conducted a series of surveys and reports on women's experiences of COVID-19. They include information on living arrangements during the pandemic, involvement in paid work and home-schooling, and general health and wellbeing.