Australian Federation of Medical Women (AFMW) Report for MWIA

This will be the first COVID-19 restriction free Christmas and Festive Season in Australia since December 2019 and our hope is that wherever you may be, you stay well, healthy and enjoy time with your loved ones over this period. Nurturing our relationships is what makes the work we do sustainable in many ways.

The backend support we receive from the friends and family who check in on us makes a difference. Knowing that others care and understand what you are feeling even when you can’t be together helps ease the loneliness that some people might be feeling during this time, so our suggestion is that you pick up the phone and tell someone you’ve lost touch with or haven’t spoken to in a while, that you are thinking of them and ask them how they are. Try to plan a face to face catch up if possible or share a good book, or TV series you can then talk about at your next catch up. We all like connecting over something that is a shared experience and creates opportunities to just do more of that.  A book I highly recommend is Honourable Healers, by our own Dr Merrilyn Murnane AM.

Some Highlights

AFMW started the year with an Event that aimed to prepare us for the vaccination programmes, then AFMW hosted the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 66th parallel session, Australian Women Doctors: Climate Change and Gender Equity Advocates and Activists to which we invited Doctors for the Environment  Australia (DEA) Deputy Chair Dr Kimberly Humphrey and other guest speakers. July was the month of the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) Triennial Conference which was hosted by zoom in Taiwan and where several AFMW members chaired sessions and presented. July is also National Aborigines Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week and we have another three bursary recipients of the Purple Bush Medicine Leaves Bursary for Indigenous Medical Women, which has become a key event for AFMW since the inaugural event in 2021.

Continuing education through sessions for our members and friends is a priority however, sharing important information with the community has been an equal priority through  television programs like ‘A Current Affair’, mainstream media such as “The Age” and “the Sydney Morning Herald”, and on numerous occasions for the non-English speaking community through Neos Kosmos and other outlets as well.  Women’s Health Week in September was particularly busy with an open session on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and heavy menstrual bleeding for the University of Melbourne Students. Shortly after that, A/Prof Magdalena Simonis, AFMW President, presented on a panel for a session organised by the Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) on the topic of Female Genital Mutilation / Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery in Australia. The same month, MJA Insight+ published A/Prof Simonis’s commentary giving historical perspectives on Endometriosis, and includes a discussion regarding the interplay between gender, science, religion and politics. Another piece AFMW President A/Prof Magdalena Simonis wrote on endometriosis on behalf of AFMW was published in  AusDoc , which focuses on how GPs can help women with endometriosis.

As the year transitions to 2023, the medical profession continues to be stretched to its maximum capacity and despite this, the AFMW team has forged on with key activities, advocacy and partnerships which align with our strategic plan.  AFMW Executive member Dr Marjorie Cross writes on doctor’s health, recommends this, and reminds us to look out for and support each other.

AFMW produces a weekly eBulletin which is available to all MWIA members and AFMW takes this opportunity to remind you that if you work you wish to share, please write to us at


Some of the key advocacy submissions AFMW has made this year include:

Executive / Council

AFMW had another successful Annual General Meeting with approved changes to our AFMW Executive and Council and the outlined pathway towards evolving AFMW through governance review, which is a very positive move forward into the 21st century.

AFMW aims to:

  • build medical women leaders.
  •  support women in leadership.
  • support women into leadership.
  • support each other through hard times.
  • share, talk about, celebrate our successes.
  • build partnerships.
  • act with kindness.
  • support the health of all Australians and apply the gender lens to health reforms and systems to achieve equity.

Support and Leadership

On the theme of supporting women in and into leadership, the recipients of the AFMW President’s Awards this year were:

  1. Professor Raina MacIntyre
    President’s Award for excellent contribution to the health of Australia and leadership.
  2. Dr Merrilyn Murnane AM
    President’s Honour In recognition of her excellent contribution to the Australian Federation of Medical Women, community and profession.
  3. Dr Madhura Naidu
    President’s Young AFMW Award In recognition of her excellent contribution to the Victorian Medical Women’s Society and AFMW.

AFMW also launched the inaugural young AFMW Core Confidence Leadership scholarship which was received by Dr Madeleine Warrilow.

 On Closing

For AFMW it is important to focus on our achievements, take a breath to appreciate this and recharge filling ourselves with new energy to continue next year. AFMW thanks all who have contributed to making our journey with AFMW so fulfilling and extend a hearty ‘thank you’ to AFMW members, executive and council for the work achieved nationally and state-wide. We know that there is much yet to be done,

To our Sisters in MWIA, AFMW wishes you peace and some good quality rest during the festive season!

Best wishes to all on behalf of AFMW,

A/Professor Magdalena Simonis
President, AFMW


AFMW Councillors: