Covid has brought with it many things, it is easy to list the negatives that come with a pandemic. For a minute I want to look at some of the positives that (Gosnells Women’s Health Service trading as) WHWS has experienced as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions.
I want to start by saying that I am really proud of WHWS, we do a heck of a lot to support our community with very little money. Due to our limited funding we sadly are limited by the funding agreements and the Medicare requirements to offering counselling in person and during office hours. Our therapeutic and health promotion groups are limited to in person, during office hours and everything is restricted to participants being able to attend our office here in Gosnells.
At the start of the year our team had a big discussion around this. There are so many barriers to women and families attending our service, the restricted hours and the in person requirements were adding additional difficulty. Barriers of distance, travel (yes we are on a bus and train line but how much extra time and cost does that add to time poor or highly anxious/overwhelmed people?), people are working (sometimes multiple jobs), people have children and while we say it takes a village we don’t have a village so childcare can be an issue if people lack social support or their support people work!
What can we do to make it easier for women who need our service to actually access it?
We had a plan that perhaps we could record some of our groups and then women can access the learning in a time and place that suits them. Great idea, in reality we don’t have the equipment to do that, nor do we have anyone with any free time to be able to do the actual recording. One of the things about running a small organisation and doing it on a shoe string is that all the money we have goes to service provision and everyone is working. To have someone recording would mean pulling someone off service provision which would mean less support for community that needs it. It was a catch 22.
Along came Covid
Then came Covid and almost overnight we changed our service delivery model to being all online with no in-person services available. We were able to support women and families in our community with telephone and video counselling at a time where they needed it most and we were able to shift our health promotion to social media to support emotional wellness during Covid-19 restrictions. The success of the online health promotion efforts showed that by reducing barriers of in person and set times we were able to support a much bigger section of the community.
Thank you LotteryWest
We are so fortunate to be a recipient of a LotteryWest COVID Community Recovery grant of $60,736 presented to us today by Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk. This has enabled us to expand the our online health promotion programs and grow our library of online, self paced mental health focused courses- Hidden World of You.
While currently the restrictions in place in WA have eased considerably, our community has been significantly impacted by the threat of Covid-19, by the restrictions, the uncertainty of it all. This grant means that we can expand not only the level of support that we will be able to offer the women and families in our community but we can expand the range of ways that we can support our community as well. This grant means that women can access a group focusing on Shifting your perspective of Anxiety, Self Comapssion, Making Cents of Money and ATAR stress from a time and location that suits YOU and not a time and location that suits our organisation. It means that in a fortnight we will be launching a new podcast ‘The hidden world of women’. The podcast focuses on sharing women’s experiences, normalising the experiences of women, reducing shame, and really as the name suggests it shines a light on issues that are hidden, issues that make up real women’s lives.
Minister McGurk said “[WHWS] work in promoting the overall wellbeing, self-esteem, independence, self-responsibility and health awareness of women in their community has never been more important” and thanks to the LotteryWest COVID Community Recovery grant we are able to do that in a more diverse way that reduces barriers to access and means more of our community can start thier journey towards positive change.
Thank you LotteryWest and the WA State Government for your support in making these changes possible.