Labor MPs pledge to fund women’s health centres ‘in crisis’

Illawarra Mercury – Rosie Bensley

The Illawarra Women’s Health Centre would benefit from a $2.1 million funding injection under a state Labor government, local MPs have promised.

Member for Keira and Shadow Health Minister Ryan Park committed to boost funding for 20 women’s health centres across the state, including in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.

Mr Park said a lack of funding and staff shortages have limited the Illawarra centre’s ability to operate additional counselling and provide the necessary support to women in domestic violence and trauma situations.

“All of that is constrained by the current model – they haven’t had a substantial funding increase since 1986, in real terms,” he said.

Mr Park said the women’s health sector has reached a “crisis point”, and the promised funding would keep a number of health centres’ doors from permanently shutting.

“The sector made it clear to us that unless substantial funding came, centres would close down,” Mr Park said.

Shoalhaven Women’s Health Centre currently provides health services and support to more than 2,300 women each year, while the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre support over 6,000 women.

Across the Illawarra Shoalhaven, rates of women presenting to emergency for mental health related conditions exceeds the state average, according to Labor MPs.

The promise would double the funding for at-risk women’s health centres across NSW, boosting it to $100 million.

Women voters are in focus ahead of the March state election, with both Liberal and Labor governments promising significant funding boots to domestic violence and health services.

The coalition government pledged $20 million to quadruple the number of electronic ankle bracelets in NSW for high-risk domestic abusers.