What is Women’s Health
Women’s Health NSW is an association of statewide women’s health centres and specialist women’s centres. All centres are non-government, community based, feminist services that provide choices for women to determine their individual health needs.
Services provided by Women’s Health and Specialist Centres will be provided within a feminist context which:
- Recognises the social, environmental, economic, physical, emotional and cultural factors which influence women’s health.
- Recognises and challenges the effects of sex-role stereotyping and gender discrimination on women’s health and well being.
- Reflects the whole of a woman’s lifespan, their various and changing roles and responsibilities, not just their reproductive life.
- Recognises the importance of maintaining well-being by the focus on preventative practices.
- Actively encourages the empowerment of women in both the personal and social aspects of their lives.
- Values women’s own knowledge and skills and their right to make informed decisions about their health.
Why Women’s Health
Many factors – biological, social, cultural, environmental and economic – influence women’s health status, their need for health services and their ability to access appropriate services. In particular women’s health needs stem from the fact that:
- Women are more socially disadvantaged than men in terms of poverty, education and power. Socially disadvantaged people are more likely to become ill.
- Women are more likely to use health services because of their role as carers of children, older people, disabled people and the extra strain this places on their health.
- Women have particular sexual and reproductive health needs in pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.
- Due to gender inequality women are treated differently than men both in society generally resulting for example in violence against women and sexual assault and within the health system where women complain that their health problems are not treated seriously by health professionals or that they are inappropriately prescribed tranquillisers.
WHNSW Centres aim to improve the health status of women by providing a unique, holistic, woman-centred approach to primary health care. The centres aim to blend medical and clinical services and a range of counselling, health promotion, education, self-help and consumer advocacy services. They also aim to provide women with the knowledge, skills and resources to enable us to take more responsibility over factors that adversely affect our health. Centres operate from a feminist perspective that links the causes of ill health in women to social factors. This perspective is informed by the World Health Organisation’s definition of health as a complete state of physical, mental and social well being, not merely the absence of disease (1946).
What are the criteria for membership?
In order for an organisation to become a full member of WHNSW the organisation must be a body formed or incorporated within the state of NSW and meet the following criteria:
- It is managed by a community based management committee of women which provides a women’s health service
- It is a not for profit, non government organisation
- The organisation adheres to the aims and objectives of Women’s Health NSW
- It adheres to the Principles of Women’s Health Care as defined in the Manual of Standards for Women’s Health Centres, March 1995 (NSW)
- It is a feminist organisation as defined in the Manual of Standards for Women’s Health Centres March 1995 (NSW), Philosophy of Women’s Health Services
- It is represented by a female person
What are the criteria for associate membership?
To be an associate member of WHNSW an organisation must be formed or incorporated within the state of NSW and meet the following criteria:
- It is a not for profit, non government organisation that provides a women’s health service
- It adheres to the aims and objectives of Women’s Health NSW
- It supports the Principles of Women’s Health Care as outlined above
- Provides their women’s health service within the feminist context defined in the Manual of Standards for Women’s Health Centres March 1995 (NSW), page 1, Philosophy of Women’s Health Services
- It is represented by a female person
How do centres join WHNSW?
Centres wishing to join must be nominated by a current member, in writing, addressed to the Secretary of the Board and forwarded to Head Office. For further information please contact the office.
What does it cost to join?
A full member on admission pays a training development fee as determined by the board. Associate members on admission pay a fee which is determined by the board.
In 1973 around the time of International Women’s Day, a forum was held that covered significant issues for women. One of the recommendations from the forum was the need to address the lack of appropriate service provision for women in the mainstream health system. The necessity to establish services for women became a priority. In 1974 the federal government granted funds and on International Women’s Day that year in Leichhardt (NSW), the first women’s health centre in Australia was opened. In 1975 Centres were opened in Liverpool and Newcastle. New centres were emerging throughout the state and in 1978 centres were running in Wagga Wagga, Bankstown and Gosford. Not one of these centres were funded, each delivered services according to their community and were run by volunteers. By 1981 it was decided to form an association to be known as Women’s Health and Information Resource and Crisis Centres Association or WHIRCCA. The aim was to create ongoing networks and support as well as advocate on behalf of other communities trying to establish Women’s Health Centres. In 1985 the shared work of the association and the women in the communities of Sydney’s western and south western suburbs saw the opening of centres in Blacktown, Penrith and Campbelltown as well as others in rural areas. The change of name from WHIRCCA to Women’s Health New South Wales transpired on 1 January 2000. WHNSW as an association embarks on many innovative projects which not only benefit each centre and its clients but also radically influence mainstream health practices. Women’s Health NSW now represents 21 services throughout NSW.
WHNSW Board Structure
For the purposes of board membership, Women’s Health NSW members are divided into four categories:
|Central West||Blacktown||Central Coast||Sydney Women’s Counselling Service|
|Coffs Harbour||Cumberland||Hunter||Rape & DV Services Australia|
The board of management is comprised of nine members, with the following representation:
- 2 x Rural Centres
- 2 x Metro Centres
- 2 x Outer Metro Centres
- 1 x Specialist Centre
- 1 x Executive Officer WHNSW
- 1 x Other (can be from any category)
|Position||Board Member||Eligible Centre|
|Outer Metropolitan||Jane Gold Penrith WHC||Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra, Penrith, WILMA|
|Outer Metropolitan||Sarala Porter Blue Mountains WHC||Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra, Penrith, WILMA|
|Metro Representative||Mariam Mourad Bankstown WHC||Bankstown, Blacktown, Cumberland, Leichhardt, Liverpool|
|Metro Representative||Casual Vacancy||Bankstown, Blacktown, Cumberland, Leichhardt, Liverpool|
|Rural Representative||Gail Meyer Wagga WHC||Albury, Central West, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Shoalhaven, Wagga|
|Rural Representative||Sally Stevenson Illawarra WHC||Albury, Central West, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Shoalhaven, Wagga|
|Special Purpose Centre||Margherita Basile Sydney Womens Counselling Centre||Sydney Women’s Counselling, Rape & DV Services Australia, Waminda Aboriginal Women Health & Welfare|
|General||Theresa Mason Central Coast WHC
||Any member may apply|
|Chief Executive Officer||Denele Crozier||Women’s Health NSW|