Campbelltown MP Greg Warren has lauded a NSW Labor commitment to provide $100 million over five years for 20 women’s health centres throughout NSW – including WILMA Women’s Health Centre in Campbelltown.

“This announcement will allow WILMA Women’s Health Centre staff to do what they do best – that is support women in need of assistance, not worry about funding applications,” he said.

The commitment will double the current funding for the women’s health centres.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Vanessa Olsen, Manager of WILMA told Good Morning Macarthur, We have not seen an actual funding increase in nearly 40 years (1986), even though for every $1 we spend, the NSW Government achieves a minimum of $1.71 in avoided costs.”

The Women’s Health sector has now reached a crisis point and Women’s Health NSW has developed a business case that shows an additional $20.29m per annum for the sector will mean Centres can finally address both acute and emerging needs.

Currently, Women’s Health Centres are running unsustainable operating deficits, and are being forced to make skilled mental health, clinical and health education staff redundant and/or reduce services.

This is a gendered issue, not just for service users of Women’s Health Centres: 100% of centre staff are women.

Women’s Health NSW says that without additional investment, many Women’s Health Centres will be forced to close, or substantially reduce services in the next 2 years.

WILMA and the other centres provide vital services – particularly for women who have experienced domestic violence.

“Women’s Health Centres are vital community services providing healthcare, counselling and social support to women experiencing disadvantage who would otherwise be unable to access this care,” Dr Olsen said.

Eighty per cent of women referred to the centres experience some form of domestic and family violence. Seventy per cent are low income earners and 10 per cent identify as First Nations women.

“Demands for our services are continuing to increase. As the area continues to grow, we need to be able to expand our services to care for some of the most vulnerable women in our community,” Dr Olsen said.

“Sadly, we currently refer at least one woman daily to other counselling services as our centre has reached its maximum capacity.”

NSW Labor’s commitment will ensure centres can:

  • Increase staff retention
  • Reduce waitlists for counselling appointments
  • Reduce numbers of women turned away from services
  • Reduce gaps in availability for local services
  • Adapt services to emerging demographic trends and population growth
  • Adapt services to address the complexity of presenting health issues.

Mr Warren said that the funding was an enormous win for WILMA Women’s Health Centre and the many clients that rely on the centre.

“I have been fortunate to work closely with WILMA since first being elected the Member for Campbelltown in 2015,” he said.

“I have witnessed first-hand the incredible work the staff at WILMA do on a daily basis; they are compassionate, dedicated and essential not only to women in Campbelltown, but women throughout the entire wider Macarthur region.”

–  Brian Laul

Photo: Campbelltown MP Greg Warren distributing presents to WILMA as part of his 2022 Christmas Toy Drive