New, culturally safe, easy-to-understand and beautifully designed resources have been designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to raise awareness about polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Jean Hailes for Women’s Health has partnered with 
Central Australian Aboriginal Congress’ (Congress) Alukura Women’s Health Service to produce free health information for First Nations communities in the form of unique, engaging brochures, educational kits and animations to recognise and manage PCOS symptoms.
“This project has been a great opportunity to inform Aboriginal women in our community about PCOS, and importantly help them understand that there are things that they can do to help manage the condition,”  Tahnia Edwards, Manager of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress’ (Congress) Alukura Women’s Health Service, said.

PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects one in 10 women and girls in Australia. Regrettably, it’s even more common in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, affecting up to one in six women. To support these women, and their health professionals, Jean Hailes and Congress have listened closely to what women need so they can recognise symptoms associated with PCOS, seek help and manage them.
Symptoms can include irregular periods or no periods, weight gain and increased risk of experiencing anxiety and depression, as well as fertility issues, and chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“It is also an opportunity, particularly for young women, to take control and increase their awareness about PCOS and their bodies. It helps to start the conversation about the condition and let them know they can seek help from their healthcare provider. Especially if Aboriginal women are having trouble becoming pregnant or have concerns about their fertility; they can get the support they need to help them have a baby,”  Ms Edwards said.
The culturally safe resources feature artwork by Arrernte artist Amunda Gorey, and illustrations by Coolamon Creative, from the Northern Territory. The relatable illustrations reflect the lives, environment and culture of First Nation’s women, while simple explanations replace complex medical information.
The fact that the resources were co-designed by members of a steering group made up of representatives from Congress and Jean Hailes, as well as health professionals and Aboriginal women in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) lets women easily identify with the resources and encourage them to seek help.
“It’s very important for us to have these resources, and even more important to have them in local languages,” sSabella Turner, Female Lead Aboriginal Cultural Advisor at Congress, said. “The resources are easy to read and have a simple layout. They have also been checked for cultural safety, so we don’t make people feel shame.”
The partnership between Jean Hailes and Congress Alukura was initiated in 2020, when research discovered a lack of resources about PCOS for both Aboriginal women and health professionals.
“It’s been so wonderful to be able to have these resources developed in Central Australia in partnership with Congress, for both health professionals and Aboriginal women in Mparntwe and surrounding communities,” Renea Camilleri, Women’s Health Week and Community Engagement Manager at Jean Hailes, said.

“The partnership between Jean Hailes and Alukura Women’s Health Service has been enriching and invaluable. Community engagement ensures we can reach priority groups right across Australia, providing all women with trusted and evidence-based health information.”
Photo: Milada Vigerova/Unsplash

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