A Minns Labor Government will boost funding for Women’s Health Centres to $100 million over five years to ensure the 20 centres across the state can operate sustainably and deliver health services that meet the needs of the community.
This funding boost means Labor will double the current funding for the Women’s Health Centre Program.
For years, Women’s Health Centres have been providing services above and beyond what they are contracted to, because the demand is so great.
The Women’s Health Centre Program supports thousands of women every year and is vital in providing a safe place for women who may fall through the cracks of the health system and otherwise end up straight into acute care.
Eighty per cent of women referred, who utilise the health centres have experienced some form of domestic and family violence, 70 per cent are low-income earners and 10 per cent identify as First Nations women.
But after 12 years of Dominic Perrottet and the Liberals, Women’s Health Centres are at a crisis point and are being forced to make cuts to staff and services. They are chronically underfunded and without immediate intervention many will be forced to close or substantially reduce services within the next two years.
Labor’s commitment will ensure Centres can keep their doors open and continue to provide this specialised health care services to more than 50,000 women across New South Wales each year.
It will also reduce pressure on our hospitals as women can get healthcare where they need it, when they need it, without having to go to an Emergency Department. Every dollar invested in Women’s Health Centres avoids $1.71 in hospital and primary health costs.
The centres, located predominantly across Western Sydney and regional NSW, provide a safe and private setting for women to access vital physical and mental health services, as well as domestic, family and sexual violence support.
Locations with centres that will benefit include Bankstown, Blacktown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Liverpool and Penrith, as well as the Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra, Lismore, Shoalhaven and South Coast.
Under Labor, the new investment will mean Centres are able to:
- Increase staff retention,
- Reduce waitlists for counselling appointments,
- Reduce numbers of women turned away from services,
- Reduce gaps in availability of local services,
- Adapt services to emerging demographic trends and population growth,
- Adapt services to address the complexity of presenting health issues.
Today’s announcement follows Labor’s commitment to deliver more job security and funding certainty for key community health and family and domestic violence services by introducing longer-term five-year funding arrangements and to boost funding to the NSW Sexual Violence Helpline.
Chris Minns MP, NSW Labor Leader said:
“Women’s Health Centres have a 40-year history in delivering vital evidence-based primary health care services.
“Core funding has not kept up with the ever-increasing demand and this is placing more pressure on our already struggling hospital system.
“This funding will make sure women have access to key health services and relieve pressure on NSW hospitals.”
Ryan Park MP, NSW Shadow Minister for Health said:
“The Women’s Health sector has now reached a crisis point. Without additional investment, many Centres would be forced to close, or substantially reduce services in the next two years.
“Women’s Health Centres are being forced to make skilled mental health, clinical and health education staff redundant and reduce services, in order to cover costs. Labor’s investment will enable Centres focus on providing much needed health services to the community.”
Jodie Harrison MP, NSW Shadow Minister for Women said:
“Women’s Health Centres are a welcoming, holistic and trusted regular health provider for tens of thousands of women every year.
“These Centres not only provide clinicians to support women with their physical and mental health, the Centres provide preventative classes, events and support groups which are so important for women who would otherwise put off looking after their own health needs.”
Denele Crozier, Women’s Health NSW CEO said:
“Women’s Health Centres have been providing vital services as part of NSW Healthcare system for more than 40 years – we have the expertise, the community relationships, we understand the current needs.
“An investment in community women’s health centres will see an immediate increase in essential health services for women and girls right across NSW.
“This commitment to increase funding will save lives.”