The Long Story Short project aims to elevate the voices and perspectives of women and gender diverse people living in the Goulburn North East and Loddon Mallee areas of regional Victoria. Centering the lived experience of women in fostering solutions around sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and service access will inform WHGNE and WHLM’s advocacy and resource development around SRH in our regions. 

Jane’s story: Perimenopause

Long Story Short: Reshaping the narrative of women’s sexual and reproductive health (formerly Storylines), is a multiyear project collecting lived-experience perspectives to inform advocacy, resource development and research into improving sexual and reproductive healthcare and information for women* in regional Victoria.

Supported by quantitative data collection and the expert opinions of health professionals from across the Goulburn North East and Loddon Mallee regions, lived-experience perspectives form the heart of the Long Story Short project, and inform the solutions-based advocacy and practical resource development intended as an outcome of the project.

That is why WHGNE and WHLM have gathered perspectives from across our regions through a Community Advisory Group, a Health Professionals Consultation, focus groups and an online questionnaire.

We have also collated the perspectives and experiences of women shared over two iterations of this project to develop a series of five videos which highlight, in narrative form, the challenges and solutions which can be drawn from women’s lived experience.

Community Advisory Group

Qualitative data collection began with the formation of a Community Advisory Group (CAG), populated by 20 women from around the Goulburn North East and Loddon Mallee region with an interest in sexual and reproductive health.

The CAG talked, during their three sessions, about the challenges around seeking sexual and reproductive health in regional and rural Victoria. They identified five overarching themes which encapsulate the collective experiences among the group and the region, and as areas which can guide solutions to improving SRH. They are:

  • Access
  • Education
  • Stigma
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Innovation and networking

Health Professionals Consultation

Following the CAG sessions, we held an online workshop and opened a survey for health professionals working in the SRH space to share their perspectives on how to improve access and experiences.

Both the session and the survey used the themes developed with the CAG to guide the conversation. The health professionals were able to provide valuable context from the other side of the clinic, bringing light to some of the challenges and potential solutions to providing sexual and reproductive healthcare in rural and regional Victoria.

Focus Groups and Online Questionnaire

We travelled around our region to hear from women and gender diverse people on sexual and reproductive health, as well as engaging online through a focus group and questionnaire.

Participants generously shared their experiences and then reimagined what would have made those experiences better in order to identify solutions.

After hearing an array of experience-based perspectives from a diverse cohort of women and gender diverse people, we are collating our data and developing a final report, scheduled for release in late June 2024.

The findings will inform resource development and advocacy, as well as contribute to submissions, planning and future projects in the SRH space.

As part of the Long Story Short project, we’ve heard that easy to find and understand information is vital to improving access to timely and relevant sexual and reproductive health information. So we’ve compiled this list of links to help guide women and gender diverse people in finding the services and information they need:

Before the release of the final report into sexual and reproductive health in Goulburn North East and Loddon Mallee, the Long Story Short team wanted to highlight some of the lived experience perspectives shared so generously with WHGNE and WHLM over the two iterations of this project, 2018-2024.

In order to do this while protecting the privacy of the women who have participated, we have drawn from the collective themes and common experiences shared through Long Story Short and Storylines to create five narratives.

These stories, told by actors, encapsulate the deep insights provided by women and gender-diverse people from communities across regional and rural Victoria into health and gender equity. These stories emphasise the important role of lived-experience in shaping the solutions which will improve sexual and reproductive health for all Victorians.

Watch the Long Story Short video series, including Jane’s story above:

Brigid’s story: Pregnancy and birth

Catherine’s story: Endometriosis

Ellen’s story: Sexual health through life stages

Lucinda’s story: Reproductive options and education in rural areas