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Game-changing rural women’s health service announced by NSW Minister David Harris MP

A concept of what the new Mobile Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic will look like when it hits the road in early 2024.
A concept of what the new Mobile Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic will look like when it hits the road in early 2024.

Women and girls in rural and remote NSW will soon have better access to sexual and reproductive health care services in their community thanks to a grant from the NSW Government.


The NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty, and Minister for Medical Research, The Honourable David Harris MP, today announced funding of $237,000 for the establishment of a Rural and Remote Mobile Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic to be based in Collarenebri and serve rural and remote communities across NSW.


The Clinic will travel across rural and remote NSW to provide women and girls improved local access to high quality women’s, sexual and reproductive health services, as well as life education, in their own towns.


Julia Faulkner is the Manager of Rural and Remote Health Initiatives at the Healthy Communities Foundation Australia Ltd (the Foundation).  They said:


“Our communities told us that there was a lack of reliable and dedicated women’s health care in small rural and remote towns, and women wanted something that would make it easier to get appropriate care preferably from other rural and Aboriginal women” said Julia Faulkner.


Mel Press, clinical coordinator for the Rural and Remote Mobile Health Clinic, said:


“The experience of rural, remote and Aboriginal women are unique, and that is why services need to be designed, governed and delivered by rural and Aboriginal people. 
“This is particularly the case for Aboriginal women who often feel more comfortable talking with another Aboriginal woman” said Ms Press.


Dr Anna Noonan, whose PhD research on unintended pregnancy and access to family planning services in Western NSW was cited in the Federal Government's Senate Inquiry into Universal Reproductive Healthcare said: 


“I am over-joyed that the NSW Government has supported this innovative and rurally-led project that has the sexual and reproductive health and rights of rural women and girls at its heart. 
My research in Western NSW showed that rural and remote women and girls experience multiple and often compounding barriers to accessing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, as specialist services are almost always far from home.
This Mobile Women's Health Clinic will remove these barriers and ensure services will be available to our rural communities when and where they are needed." 


Mr Carl Mason, Chair of the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly Community Working Party in Collarenebri said:


“The community identified poor access to appropriate health care for women and girls as a priority in our Community Plan, and the Foundation worked very closely with us to help to make it a reality.  This is going to change lives.  It is a great outcome”.


Foundation Board Director Christopher Cliffe is the former CEO and Chair of CRANAPlus, the peak professional body for remote health care in Australia.  They said:


“When we talk about ‘access to healthcare’ we cannot just talk about physical proximity.  We also need to think about the unique needs of rural, remote and Aboriginal patients and whether services are ‘appropriate’. There is little value in funding services that are available locally in rural towns, but which no-one uses.
“The Foundation is based in Collarenebri in remote NSW.  Ninety percent of our staff live and work in rural and remote towns.  More than 30 percent of our staff are Aboriginal people.  These factors give the Foundation a unique capability to understand the needs of rural, remote and Aboriginal women and girls in a way that others cannot, and to co-design solutions that work.


The Foundation CEO, Mark Burdack said:


“One of the great rewards of living and working in rural and remote communities is being able to learn from the knowledge and experience of local people.
"Community-leadership is the guiding principle that defines all our work. It is why we have been able to increase the number of doctors for the bush where programs created in the cities have struggled, helped more than a dozen rural and remote communities sustain their local medical and health care services, and created successful rural and remote health and social care initiatives like the National Rural and Remote Suicide Prevention Service over a period of 20 years.
"I want to congratulate the Minister David Harris for listening to the Collarenebri community, and responding with generosity to their request to help women and girls improve their health".





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