Budget to boost funding for NSW women’s health centres

Illawarra Mercury – Maeve Bannister

Women’s health centres will receive a funding boost in the NSW budget to help increase staff numbers, reduce counselling waitlists and provide more services.

The state’s 20 centres provide tailored care for women and assist with physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health services.

More than 50,000 women, predominantly those who are vulnerable, access their face-to-face support each year.

About 80 per cent of women who access the health centres have experienced some form of domestic and family violence.

Next week’s state budget will allocate an additional $34.3 million for the health centre program over the next four years.

Centres in Bankstown, Blacktown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Liverpool, the Hunter and Penrith – as well as the Central Coast, Illawarra, Lismore, Shoalhaven and South Coast – are set to benefit from the boost.

Health Minister Ryan Park said the announcement was “game-changing” as it was the most significant investment in women’s health centres in decades.

He said the services were particularly important for women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and those escaping family and domestic violence.

“This is an important part of making sure those women don’t fall through the cracks,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“Today is a landmark day, not only for women’s health services, but for women right across NSW.”

The funding is expected to help increase staff numbers, reduce waitlists for counselling appointments, offer services to more women and adapt existing support to address emerging demographic trends.

Women’s Minister Jodie Harrison said the centres were crucial to women’s health care and provided vital support for those escaping violence, from lower socio-economic backgrounds and in regional areas.

“Women’s health centres across (the state) are a really welcoming space for women who might not feel able to engage in mainstream primary health services,” she said.

“This announcement is really important to enable those women to have a safe, welcoming space to come to for their healthcare on a range of bases.”

The Minns government’s first budget will be handed down next Tuesday.

Australian Associated Press