A new senate inquiry is aiming to break the stigma around menopause in Australia.
The inquiry is a result of the 2023 National Women’s Health Survey, which found that 27 percent of women with menopausal symptoms have taken an extended break from work, study or exercise.
These breaks have been estimated to cost Australian women a collective $15.2 billion in income and super for every year of early retirement, according to a report from The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.
On an economic scale, an average 7.4 years of missed earnings opportunity results in a loss of $112.2 billion—all from a biological process that affects every woman in Australia to some extent.
The impact on Australian women’s financial situation and the gender pay gap is significant however, there are also the root mental and physical health issues that come with menopause to consider.
If 27 percent of women going through menopause have symptoms severe enough to take them out of work, study and exercise then it suggests the modern medical system is not serving women as it should.
Considering the widespread and long-standing discrimination against women in the healthcare system, it’s not exactly a surprise that women’s experience of menopause in Australia hasn’t been taken seriously until recently.
Headed up by Senator Marielle Smith, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee will spend nine months investigating issues related to menopause and perimenopause.
This will include both the economic consequences of menopause as well as the impact on physical and mental wellbeing. The inquiry will also consider cultural and societal factors that influence attitudes to menopause and the awareness of medical professionals and employers.
Lastly, the inquiry will consider existing government, healthcare and workplace menopause policies and initiatives.
The result will hopefully be a new and more nuanced understanding of menopause in Australia, leading to better policies and healthcare that serves Australian women.
The inquiry will rely on submissions from women around Australia.
You can submit your own at the Senate Community Affair References Committee inquiry website before 16 February 2024.