State Government delivers on promise to Women’s Health Centres

Shanise, Kirsty Fleming, Deb and Louise from Penrith Women’s Health Centre. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Just over a year after Premier Chris Minns visited Penrith to make the election promise of investing into Women’s Health Centres across the state, a funding increase of $34.3 million has been allocated to 19 of them – including Penrith Women’s Health Centre.

According to CEO of Penrith Women’s Health Centre Kirsty Fleming, Women’s Health NSW, the peak body for Women’s Health Centres, has been advocating for increased funding for Women’s Health Centres persistently for decades.

A number of years ago, these centres came together to work out what they needed as a sector to continue providing support to women in New South Wales, ultimately prompting the NSW Government to commit during the last State Election to boosting funding for Women’s Health Centres to $100 million over five years.

Last week’s investment ensures that over the next four years, $81 million in funding is secured for these vital services.

For Fleming, this was welcome news, thanking Women’s Health NSW, as well as Karen McKeown and Prue Car for their continual support of the service.

“I think all the Women’s Health Centres and all the managers are just ecstatic, and so proud of the women who put this work together to get it across the line,” she said.

Of these funds, Penrith Women’s Health Centre will be receiving $1,239,000 in additional funding over four years.

“We’re so happy to be able to say that we have got this additional funding, and really excited to see what we can do with that money, and what difference it will make,” she said.

Though she said she’s not sure where exactly the funds will go, with decisions still to be made by a steering committee of health representatives and Women’s Health NSW representatives around what direction they want each centre to go in, Fleming said she has a few ideas in mind.

“I would love to have increased funding for counsellors, for a massage therapist, or if we could have a GP, that would just be amazing for our women,” she said.

“We’d also love to be able to use the funding for our DV team, to try and get some support around DV funding or brokerage for women who are experiencing DV.

“We’re continually trying to find different ways of accessing brokerage and support for those women.”

With this funding to cease after four years under the current circumstances, Fleming said she hopes this is the beginning of longer-term positive change, particularly in the Penrith area where support in this sector is so desperately needed.

“At the moment, the funding is only there for four years, and we don’t know what will happen after those four years, but we hope that in that time we will be able to prove that the funding is worthwhile and worthwhile continuing, and also to try and get some self-sustaining programs happening would be my goal – to try and get things that we can continue even if the funding doesn’t continue,” she said.

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