On this page: Jocelynne Scutt; Edith Morgan; Molly Hadfield; Jo Wainer;
See also: Social Change
Dr Jocelynne Scutt
a book on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and the new reproductive technologies, and did quite a lot
of activism around the issue. I went to a conference in Sweden and got
to know Dr Lynette Dumble and her work with kidney disease. Years ago,
when I was at the Law Reform Commission in Sydney, in 1976, I did some
work on a reference they had on tissue transplantation.
wrote an article - published in some law journal - about kidney replacement,
looking at all those issues about who is going to get it. You know the
dominant groups are going to get it. You have to be white, you have to
be middle class, or upper. You have to be, basically, male. There is a
whole lot of rivalry about who gets the kidney.
and I became colleagues. I was very well aware that she was central to
the whole debate and argument. She often went off to the University of
Texas, where she created great links between the University of Texas and
the University of Melbourne and other institutions, for example in Mass.
She came into this issue from a technical point of view, a medical researcher
and theorist and so on. Through that, she got her revelation about discrimination
against women that is inherent, as it is in every thing, but inherent
in this part of medical technology - organ transplantation.
became very outspoken on that issue, also on hormone replacement therapy,
also on in vitro fertilization. One of the issues that troubled Lynette
was that the experimentation that was being done, in terms of tissue transplantation
and kidney transplantation, was being done on male rats only.
the researchers found was that experimentation on female rats absolutely
upset the whole statistical balance because of the female hormones, therefore
they just cut the female rats out! If the female rats are being cut out
so hormones are not being taken into account, then what is the issue for
women with serious kidney disease? Or women who come into a program of
tissue transplantation, or organ transplantation, when female hormones
haven't been taken into account?
appear that women and girls are not being adequately catered for, because
the experimentation is not taking their specific needs into account.
because of her perspective on this, and on the other areas that she became
more and more involved in, she, as I understand it, became 'persona non
grata' to the powers that be. She was employed at Sydney University, then
was moved out of the medical faculty into the social sciences faculty
and then, eventually, the University of Melbourne dispensed with her services.
look at the history of women's careers we find a strong correlation on
being outspoken on issues relating to women and women not getting employment.
Or being divested of employment, or having troubling times within your
employment group and being discriminated against and being poorly regarded
even though your work is top-notch.
had all these international connections. She was flying off to the University
of Texas, doing work there, and yet often it is the case that you are
unhonoured and unsung in your own institution.
who talk about issues to do with women are seen as messy and noisome and
therefore institutions very often don't want to hear about them. They
would rather that you shut yourself up, be a good girl, do things just
in accordance with how it has been done from the year 'dot'. This is not
taking into account issues relating to women.
issue which seriously disturbed a lot of the powers-that-be was Lynette
Dumble's work on Creutzfeld Jacob's disease. Of course in all these areas,
the women who were outspoken were proved right. All the issues that were
being talked about in IVF, and the women who were writing in these, were
being derided for it and having nasty book reviews. I had a very nasty
book review written about my book, by somebody who, in my opinion, was
being extremely dishonest in their book review, but anyway, and others.
the IVF issue, Robin Rowland suffered over that. She was on a committee
and then she had a revelation, a feminist revelation, and "Hey, hang on.
Women are not being fairly treated here". She resigned from the committee
she was on, but then suffered a whole lot of derision and 'agro' and anger
and defamatory statements being made about her and her conduct, and Lynette
was equally being derided for the work that she was doing, so that was
was the kidney stuff, the IVF, the hormone replacement therapy and of
course Creutzfeld Jacob's disease, and in every one of those areas the
women like Lynette, who were doing cutting edge work, their work now has
been proved true. That is what is so galling. It is appalling, because
if it had been paid attention to, the tragedies would not have happened
or could have been recognized sooner.
of course we are now in a situation where people are being recognized
as suffering from Creutzfeld Jacob's disease when it is far too late to
do anything constructive about it. I think that, as always for women,
the issues are the same. It doesn't matter whether it is 2,000 years ago,
100 years ago or now, it doesn't matter.
issues are the same in terms of the dignity and worth of women being properly
recognized (and we have to demand that it is) such as: - equal rights
for women; - access to resources; - equal pay; - the whole issue of violence
against women; - the class issue has to be acknowledged and recognized;
- access to education and access to paid employment; - something has to
be done about the unpaid work that women do, acknowledgement and recognition
of that, and equal participation of men in all that work; and - pregnancy
and maternity and the need for proper support for that, rather than just
leaving women to fend for themselves with very little support.
is some support and it is only there because women have fought for it
and we pay full tribute to women who did this. I do think that women have
to take up the cudgels (which women have never, ever let down anyway),
making sure that these issues are spoken about.
is no point in going "softly, softly, don't speak up". This is unfortunate
sometimes, women thinking, "if we speak up, we will lose our funding"
or "If we speak up, they might not like us" or "If we speak up, we might
not hand onto the grants we have got". Well all I know is, you never hang
on to the grants you have got if you shut up.
only way you can do it is by being really outspoken and saying "This is
not good enough. We haven't got equal rights for women. The fact that
there might be a few more women in Parliament, or a few more women on
the Bench, or in high level jobs driving around in black BMW's, does not
mean that women have equal rights. Or that all women have equal access
to the rights that women should have".
- The only place that had free health services was Singleton's,
which offered health and welfare services on a charity model. It had stated
125 years ago as Singleton's Medical Dispensary and Welfare Centre - established
by one Dr Singleton and his wife, also Dr Singleton. It had a good reputation
mainly. Molly Hadfield talks of going there as a child in the mornings
for a bath and being given a hot breakfast too.
But by the time I came to Collingwood Council, it was
run by the Ladies Benevolent Society and I saw some horrific things happening.
There was a man who was sent home without treatment. He was found sitting
at home, dead, a week or so later. The gangrene in his leg was so bad
he hadn't been able to leave the chair since he crawled back from Singleton's.
... "People had romantic views of Singleton's, but
in many respects they let people down. It was funded through the Health
Department of Victoria, with a board made up of people who did not represent
the community and did not live in the area - not appointed by the community
and not accountable to the community. I think they looked on the people
who came as the unworthy poor.
I always argue that if you give a service for 'poor'
people, you'll give a poor service. You've got to be saying 'This service
will be for all people, including the poor'.
They had a very judgemental attitude. I was invited
to address the AGM at the Singleton's Centre in 1973. At the AGM, people
were (virtually) saying things like 'the people have to pull themselves
up by their bootstraps!' I hadn't researched this at all, but I think
there would have been many people who would not have gone to Singleton's
for a service, because of those attitudes.
The big difference in the transition to the Collingwood
Community Health Centre was the move from a charity model to seeing services
as a right. Dancing
in the Kitchen,
Portraits of Collingwood's Older Women p.20-21, Available from Marlies
Blatz, North Yarra Community Health Centre, 365 Hoddle Street, Collingwood
Vic 3066, $15 including post in Australia
- The new Community Health Centre had requested women
to come and set up an auxilliary to advertise the Centre. We had lunches
- I always seemed to be making pumpkin soup. We were so good that everyone
seemed to want us.
I don't believe in running anything without a guest speaker
from the community, so we had local speakers every time. That was great.
We built up a great social feeling. Everyone had a turn who worked at
the Health Centre, to let people know what they were doing.
People like food. It doesn't have to be much, but people
will become involved where there is food. It is probably a social thing.
I met lots of good people there. When you think that I received seventy
two Christmas cards from people who knew me from that time, I always think
that putting yourself out - I don't know whether you would call it being
a volunteer or being an activist - has always been more than repaid. Molly
- Any voluntary work I have done has been in an activist
sort of way, and yet, it looked just voluntary when I took on a family
- two older sisters and a brother. This was through the Guardianship Board
and the State Trustees. I knew the brother and his wife well for thirty
years and before his wife died I promised her I would look after him.
I was doing that, but then along came his two sisters
with dementia who needed looking after too! It took ten years. Out of
that, I attended meetings and I lobbied on aged care issues, so there
are the two sides - voluntary and activist.
I had to get the support of the Community Health Centre
so I went on to the management committee. One of my pet things is health
- looking at Complementary medicine in particular. I felt that Community
Health Centres were doing a great job and enjoyed every minute of my involvement
The Labor Party then decided to set up District Health
Councils. I was part of that, getting that started, off the ground. We
lost all that when the government changed.
Bert died I set up, in partnership with two doctors, a women's health
clinic that provided a full range of women's health services as identified
by women as the seven areas identified by women in Australia as being
of major concern to them, including abortion.
were violence against women, health and sexuality, sexual stereotyping,
mental health, occupational health and safety, reproductive health and
health of older women. We had general practice, we had menopause, and
we had contraception, day procedures, sexual health, and termination of
the only clinic, I think, in the world - and I had been all around the
world with Bert looking at clinics - that provided general medical services
as well as termination of pregnancy. We also had a naturopath, massage
and psychotherapy, way before these things were considered acceptable.
It was really good.
doctors providing abortions were men, except for Christine Healy who had
been trained at Bert's clinic, and I wanted to provide a safe place for
women. I went off and did a diploma (I call it my Diploma in Capitalism)
with the Securities Institute of Australia. I had to borrow a lot of money
from the bank, so I thought I had to know about money and how to speak
banker's language. Jo
teach it at Monash and I continue to teach it to medical students. Since
then I have been concentrating on women as doctors. I have been on a very
long and deep journey to discover why women, in relation to abortion,
are governed by laws that they had no part in framing.
journey took me to feminism as an explanatory model, which worked for
me. I have kept that as an underlying principle or framework since.
employed by Monash to have a look at women doctors. My brief was to look
at what we could do to make rural medicine more attractive for women doctors.
I did a 'loaves and fishes' act and transformed that into a whole international
story about women in medicine and the culture of medicine, the construction
of medical knowledge and the clinical consequences of the absence of women
in doing that.
aren't engaged in clinical research on the things that matter to women,
and they are often excluded from participation in research programs on
the basis that they can get pregnant, or that they are difficult to get
to, or biologically too complex - all sorts of things. Most of the evidence
we have for medical practice is based on men's bodies, not women's.
is becoming increasingly apparent and I wasn't the first to discover it,
but I have been able to bring it into Monash and get it in to the curriculum.
My name is Stephanie
Moore. I am the Director of Positive Women (Victoria) Inc - an organisation
that supports women living with HIV/AIDS.
I have been with
the organisation for five years, and became involved because I am passionate
about women's empowerment and women's ways. By this I mean: women
know how to do things, but often either get overshadowed by men, or believe
their way isn't the way. I love seeing that belief challenged and
see women growing and changing as their belief in themselves grows.
Here at Positive
Women, we have focused on two main strands supporting women already living
with the disease:
1. raising awareness
of HIV and
2. getting the prevention/education
message out to the general public.
We have developed
our own unique style of doing this, mainly by being as creative as possible,
using theatre, music, art and any other way to show the world we mean
business. We have built collaborative and cooperative relationships with
the Arts community in order for this to occur.
We have challenged
the myths and stereotypes of how people living with HIV should be. We
have our own Triathlon Team for example, where, we might not come in first
but we have come in second and third!
The usual image of
someone living with HIV is that they are sick, dying. We challenge those
What I am currently
seeing is more HIV positive women coming forward to be spokespeople, telling
their story as a woman living with HIV in this country. They have a different
story from that of HIV gay men.
Many people have
never thought that women can catch HIV, they have just never thought that
is a possibility. So when they hear these stories, meet these women, it
is a revelation.
Being with this organisation
has been hard at times. Often I have thought of leaving sometimes it has
all been too much, not only the illnesses but the politics within the
sector, the endless grind of trying to get others motivated so HIV is
back on the agenda. However no-one wants to see their friends, sisters,
children go through what this disease does to the body and mind. That
has motivated me to carry on.
Currently over 50%
of the worlds HIV population are women and children, that is, over 21
million women and children. It is so easy to become overwhelmed, helpless
and start to think of people as faceless statistics.
BUT every positive
person is a person with a story. Every HIV positive person is a person
with a family. I know many of these statistics - women, just like
you or me - that's why I want to ensure, as do our members, that no more
women become infected.
Our web site is currently
being revamped but you can contact us on
firstname.lastname@example.org or www.positivewomen.org.au
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