Gender and Women's Health

Research Overview

The Gender and Women's Health Unit aims to improve the health of women, their families and communities through high quality teaching, research and knowledge exchange. Our work contributes to knowledge about the health effects of gender inequity and its intersection with other social, economic, cultural, psychological, and biological factors.

We host the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Women’s Health and work in partnership with scholars and agencies in the Asia-Pacific region to develop research priorities and programs to increase regional research capacity.

The world-first Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health (CRE-DH) funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council is also based at the Unit.

We work within the Centre for Health Equity at the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne.

Our research includes the following areas:

  • Disability and Health
  • Housing and the Built Environment
  • Migrant and Refugee Women's Health
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health
  • Work, Gender and Mental Health

    The Unit's current research projects encompass studies on sexual and reproductive health, including youth mothers' well-being; contraception; abortion services; disability, including intersections between disability and employment; health, gender and disadvantage; housing and the built environment, including intersections between gender, precarious housing, public transport, and health and social isolation; gender, work and mental health, and workplace suicide prevention, and cancer prevention, including genetic testing, understandings of cancer risk, and breast cancer screening.


The Gender and Women’s Health Unit are an interdisciplinary team. We have expertise in qualitative, quantitative and participatory research methods and strong credentials in community engagement, research translation and policy reform.

Our academic disciplines include social epidemiology, psychology, public health, health economics and international development.

Professor Anne Kavanagh (Unit Head)
A/Professor Rebecca Bentley
Dr Cathy Vaughan
Dr Allison Milner
Zoe Aitken
Liz Gill-Aitkinson
Dr Ali Barr
Alex Devine
Stefanie Dimov
Dr George Disney
Mellissa Kavenagh
Sarah Khaw
Dr Tania King
Lauren Krnjacki
Dr Claudia Marck
Dr Danielle Newton
Anna Scovelle
Marissa Shields
Dr Ankur Singh


We have experience in consulting to government and the not-for-profit sector. We are involved in research collaborations at local, national and international levels.These range from government departments seeking our input for policy development, to not for profit organisations advising our researchers on how best to deliver policies, services and programs.

Productive relationships are central to our work and we have partnerships with Commonwealth and State level government agencies, health departments, the World Health Organization, universities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, the Office for Disability Victoria and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth).Our research is often cited in the media and in academic literature and also informs policy-making decisions in a range of areas at State, Commonwealth and International levels.

The efforts of our staff have been recognised through numerous research awards, Victorian State Government Fellowships, NHMRC and ARC Grants and Fellowships and ARC Linkage Grants, invitations to address prestigious international assemblies, and international prizes for their research.