Women’s health in path of cash cuts

HUME women’s health groups are about to be hit by the state government’s $25 million funding cuts to community health services.
Nanjing Night Net

The groups include Women’s Health In the North (WHIN), which provides support services to seven municipalities, including Hume and Sunbury.

The Sunbury Community Health Centre (SCHC) is among the organisations that will be affected.

WHIN executive director Helen Riseborough said the government was yet to notify it of how much funding it was likely to lose.

She believed it could be about $35,000.

“We are really concerned as people are reliant on these services … $35,000 doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but that’s half a staff member and we have only 10 staff as it is.”

Ms Riseborough said her organisation worked with a number of community groups in setting up programs to help women. It was too early so say which programs would be affected.

“Prevention is the key to our work. We focus on violence against women and children but also look at preventive measures for pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

“One of our main programs is financial literacy training, which helps newly arrived [migrant] women in the country with understanding contracts and that sort of thing.”

Ms Riseborough said cuts to any family violence program would greatly affect Hume.

“Of the seven council areas we look after, Hume has the highest rate of family violence, according to police figures.”

SCHC, which works with WHIN, is also set to be affected by the cuts. Chief executive Phillip Ripper said it wasn’t clear how much funding it would lose.

“We are keen to speak to the Health Department to find out the implications. The cuts we could face could be greater than just the women’s health cuts and potentially affect more front-line services.”