1000 words (including bibliography)
A key learning outcome of this course is helping you to explore and understand how health issues are gendered. This can occur in many ways: how health professionals are trained, the structures and spaces of health institutions, technologies and services, experiences of health that are embodied through differing social structures (age, social class, racism, ableism, sexualities and so on), emotions (shame, stigma), and health policies. Health is inherently political and can always be improved through advocacy. This assignment asks you to be the change agent, to take your learning from the classroom and reach out beyond the university.
While this assignment is conducted as if we were going to send the letters, you are NOT to forward or send these letters to the intended audience.
Your assignment is to write an advocacy letter. You need to draw on course materials, form an opinion, and find an audience — a real person with a real address. Your letter should be addressed to a change agent – identifying the right person is part of the skill of writing the letter. This might be a federal or state minister, your local member, the Director of a rape crisis centre or the CEO of the World Health Organisation. The letter should be a well-written, formal document, no more than two single-spaced pages. Letters must be written professionally and free of spelling and grammatical errors.
Choose a contemporary topic that you are passionate about. You need to research the issue briefly and reflect critically on the implication it has for improving gender equity and social justice issues. The issue could relate to a proposed change to a health issue (e.g. Roe V Wade, no free Rapid Antigen Tests in Australia), or a closure of a health service, an urgent need to attend to a health crisis (e.g. increase of eating disorders amongst young women during COVID, required attention to concussion injuries amongst football players, increase in domestic and family violence during lockdowns, lowest rates of health service utilisation amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, suicide amongst the trans community due to discrimination).
Advocacy letters have few formal rules. What you do need to do is advocate for a specific issue with clear and direct action; establish your expertise — whether this comes from your research or personal experience; support everything you offer with evidence (at least 3 academic references); make your message timely; be succinct. The advice that has always resonated more strongly to me than anything else: write from the heart.
GUIDELINES FOR WRITING ADVOCACY LETTERS
- State clearly what you would like your reader to do.
- Explain briefly why you think he/she/they should do this. Help your reader understand the need for action on his/her part, but avoid giving so much detail that you bore or annoy them.
- Include between 3-5 peer-reviewed academic sources (journal articles, books, book chapters) that support your advocacy. You may use other sources in addition to these if they are relevant (survey data, global reports, policy docs).