Women in regional areas have decreased access to sexual and reproductive health care, education and support. In a regional town there may a limited number of health care professionals; education around sexual health might be limited or heavily stigmatised; access to contraceptives may be reduced; and women focused health care might simply not exist. Sexual and reproductive health care should be available to everyone, no matter where they live.  

For young women in a regional town, education surrounding sexual and reproductive health can be minimal, and a lack of access to contraceptives can make safe sex a challenge. In such a tight knit community, buying things like condoms can lead to heavy stigmatisation, shaming and embarrassment. The stigmatisation of sex makes safe sex in a regional town harder to achieve, and young women are often made to feel ashamed when issues like unwanted pregnancies or STI’s occur. This can lead to women feeling isolated, helpless and alone, while battling a serious health condition. Without a clear way to seek treatment for these conditions, it can worsen to the point of needing emergency medical care. 

Creating a sex positive community that is understanding and not judgemental is paramount to improving the sexual and reproductive health of women in regional towns. If women feel comfortable reaching out for assistance in matters of sexual and reproductive health, they are able to receive help quickly and easily. This makes it easier for women to protect themselves and receive treatment. Additionally, access to sexual health clinics (either stationary or mobile) would make it easier for women to protect themselves and receive treatment such as medication or pregnancy terminations.  

Education around sexual and reproductive health should be easily available for women of all ages. Information about STI’s and their transmission can prevent their spread, keeping women safe from these infections. For older women, getting diagnosed with an STI can feel embarrassing and taboo. Treatment for a medical condition should never make someone feel ashamed or isolated. A sex positive approach to STI information can save women from avoidable physical and emotional discomfort.  

In March we launched our Long Story Short videos. These videos are inspired by real stories we have heard from women across regional Victoria. You can watch these videos on this page, or on the Long Story Short project page where you’ll find additional information. These videos shed a light on the problems present in our health care system and society when it comes to women’s sexual and reproductive health, but also highlight the strengths and solutions that can be drawn from lived experience. 

Jane’s story: Perimenopause

Brigid’s story: Pregnancy and birth

Catherine’s story: Chronic pain

Ellen’s story: Contraception and STI screening

Lucinda’s story: Abortion