Women’s Health Week (from 2-6 September) is an annual event hosted since September 2013 by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, a national not-for-profit organisation, dedicated to improving the knowledge of women’s health throughout the various stages of their lives. During the Women’s Health Week, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health encourages individuals, communities and workplaces to get involved by sharing Jean Hailes’ health messages, hosting an event and encouraging as many women as possible to sign up to the week. This year the Sathya Sai International Organisation of Australia and PNG and Sai Medical Unit are participating in Women’s Health Week for the very first time, with events held across almost all the states.
On the 7th of September 2019, the QLD and Tweed/Gold Coast regions partnered with the Jean Hailes organisation to host a Women’s Health Workshop at the Murwillumbah Community Centre. The morning was designed to serve a variety of women’s health care needs through educational presentations and health screening checks in the form of 8 health stations set up for attendees. These stations included a general screening station for blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol and BMI checks, mental health (supported by 2 psychiatrists, a psychologist and a counsellor), GPs, a pharmacist, dentists, podiatrist, audiologist (with hearing screenings) and alternate therapies. In addition, there were presentations by different health professionals about important health and self-care topics for women. There were approximately 65 people who attended the event of whom 16 were general community members. The event was well received by all with very positive feedback.
On the afternoon of the 31st of August, 44 ladies gathered at for an interactive workshop at the Perth Human Values Centre to learn how to use patience and perseverance to create a pure and healthy body, mind and spirit.
After registration, the welcome and introduction to the workshop was conducted by guest Yaso Ponnuthurai, an elected member from the City of Canning who highlighted the importance of empowering women in the community and providing opportunities to share experiences and learning.
The presenters consisted of female health and wellbeing professions, doctors, psychologists, nurses, and yoga instructors from within the Sai organisation. The event also welcomed Nurse Kate who is presented on the importance of breast cancer screening and self-examination.
Other topics included mental health, importance of exercise, incontinence and pelvic floor exercises, satvic food, ayurvedic perspective on the mind and stress, living food, spiritual health and importance of staying calm with patience and perseverance. Sessions included group exercises and movement, sharing of personal stories, demonstrations and a trivia summary.
Ladies also had the opportunity to participate in selfless service during the event, contributing items towards the Share the Dignity drive – the collection of sanitary items for underprivileged or homeless women.
The event was well received by all those who attended, with many take-home practical tips and information. On the 27 evaluation sheets returned, all participants requested further such workshops and suggested a variety of health-related topics for the future.
ACT – ‘Let’s talk Ladies’
The ACT Region held an event titled ‘Let’s Talk Ladies’ for women over the age of 16 years in collaboration with the Sai Medical Unit on Saturday, 31 March 2019 from 2.00 pm to 5.30 pm at the Griffin Centre in Canberra to commemorate the Women’s Health Week.
The ‘Let’s Talk Ladies’ event was attended by about 50 women inclusive of the guest speakers and volunteers. Approximately 24 participants came from non-Sai backgrounds. At this event empowerment and spiritual practices that help in the wellbeing of a woman, mindful eating, health screening required at various stages of woman’s life and healthy relationships were explored in a very informal setting.
The key messages from this workshop are:
- Quote from Michelle Obama – “Communities and countries and ultimately the world are only strong as the health of their women”
- Advice provided at the event is general in nature and any health advice based on individual needs requires consultation with the relevant medical professionals
- Give yourself space to think, feel and reflect to understand who you are
- Own the good and bad in in you and be always you.
- Set aside time for yourself to find and establish daily spiritual habits and follow what make you feel well
- Eating mindfully means chewing slowly and savouring the moment. Notice the colours, flavours and textures of your meal. Pause between each mouthful and put your utensils down on the plate. You will experience a greater sense of taste and pleasure from your food by doing this
- What to be mindful of during menstruation and menopause
- Screening is a test to discover if there is anything wrong with someone. Screening of interest to women can include cervical screening, breast screening and bowel screening
- Women of any age with symptoms should have appropriate clinical assessments
- Distancing oneself from people who extinguish one’s authentic self
In addition, the participants also had an opportunity to practice mindfulness in its various forms including mindful eating, pelvic floor exercises and guided mediation and relaxation.
It should be noted that event placed sustainability on the forefront with the gift bags distributed to participants made 100% from plastic bottles, pot plants as table arrangements and food served using a combination of non-disposable and biodegradable serving ware.
The event received positive response from the participants who were appreciative of the information provided and those from non-Sai backgrounds asking to be informed of future events.
Eighteen ladies attended the Women’s Health Week workshop from around the Hobart Area. We received verbal feedback from everyone who attended and they were very impressed with the information shared, to the point where all were willing to go overtime to ensure everything was covered in detail. We did Light Meditation at the end which everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Anyes performed a beautiful musical piece. The atmosphere was filled with Sai Baba’s divine love, which was felt strongly by all present. I received further feedback after the event of how people enjoyed the workshop and gained lots of information. We are looking forward to doing more of these workshops in the future. Most ladies stayed back to engage in the good company during tea time. Thank you for all the moral support and good wishes from the mainland during our preparation.
Coordinator for TAS Women’s Health Week
On Sunday 8 September 2019 both the NSW Regions East and West Ladies organised a Women’s Health and Mental Health workshop at the Reg Byrne Community Centre in Wentworthville.
Approximately110 participants from both the regions were in attendance.The workshop covered topics including cervical screening test, endometriosis, menopause, vaginal prolapse, incontinence of urine, breast screening and mental health issues.
Dr Divya Gurram, a gynaecologist, went straight into explaining the importance of a cervical screening test. This is usually tested on women between the ages of 25 to 70 years of age.
Other topics covered were bone health, osteoporosis and uterine bleeding. The topics were very thoroughly explained on the causes and symptoms to look out for. In most cases the risk factor was obesity and inadequate exercise after pregnancy. The management factor also played a big role in preventing the causes of such diseases. For example, preventative strategies include walking, jogging, light weight training and to stop smoking if you are a smoker.
Moving on from this, the next topic of discussion was breast screening. we were very fortunate to have the Director of NSW Breast Screening – Prof Nirmala Pathmanathan deliver a presentation. The statistics of 1 in 8 women to get breast cancer is pretty high. This is the most common cancer death in women. Australia has one of the highest incidences of breast cancer. Breast Cancer is a curable disease if detected early. The aim of mammography is early detection if cancer is present, and the peak age for this is 50 – 74. Mammography does not work for women under 40. A lot of women do not get a mammography even though it is a free service provided by the NSW Government. Radiation from mammography is very low. Once the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes, then it is difficult to treat.
The final topic for discussion was mental health, which was a very interesting workshop based on a question and answer type session. The questioner was Dr Priya Pillay, a GP at Newington and Principal Psychologist at Blackdog Institute Narmatha Thillainathan. The statistics on this was fairly high as well; almost half of all Australians will experience mental health in their lifetime, with anxiety and depression being two of the most common illnesses. It was strongly encouraged to break some of the social stigmas and barriers around seeking support, and to talk to someone and seek help from the variety of resources available.
Some publicly available resources include Sane, Carers Australia, Kids Helpline, Parents Helpline, MindSpot, Relationship Australia, QLife, Headspace and Black Dog Institute.
Overall the presentations and workshop was of a very high standard and we had lots of health professionals to answer questions from participants. The aim of this was to bring awareness and give importance to women’s health issues. The women felt at ease to participate in the discussions given that only women were present.
Everyone had a bag with flyers, booklets and pens to take home, and there were some interesting material for reading. The overall take home message was “Sister, you are on my mind.”
Women’s Health Week provided us a great opportunity to support and encourage women to prioritise their health. The program was named Women’s Health Forum and we launched it by registering with the Jean Hailes Women’s Health Week 2019.
Organising the Women’s Health Forum provided an opportunity to facilitate a service activity for the wider community. With community engagement in mind, the presentations were accessible and appropriate for all. It was a welcome learning for the organisers too.
The forum included 4 sessions handled by 5 panellists covering topics on Healthy Body, Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind and Healthy Spirit. The panellists enthralled the audience with self-care practices and common women’s health issues in a positive manner. Healthy homemade snacks were served during tea break after the first hour which was followed by two more presentations and Q&A. The forum ended with everyone laughing after a therapeutic laughter session.
We gave out the Jean Hailes gift bags and information packs to all the women who attended the event. Our event attracted a wide range of participants from both Sai Family and outside community. 35 people attended the sessions. We were thrilled to touch women across many ages and backgrounds. Everyone appreciated the way the presenters delivered health information combining humour and positivity.
The feedback received indicate that the participants are looking forward to more sessions in the future.