A brief history of Shoalhaven Women’s Health Centre

Our Story


Shoalhaven Women’s Health Centre was an initiative of Shoalhaven Women’s Resource Group (Rosa Refuge).


The collective of women who made up the resource group and established the Nowra Women’s and Children’s Refuge realised there was a need for accessible Family Planning services in the Shoalhaven.


A public meeting was held from which the Shoalhaven Women’s Health collective was formed to establish a Family Planning service in Nowra. The service began in 1983 in rented premises in Nowra with donations of money from local women.


The Family Planning Clinic was funded by Doctors working on Medicare and staffed by volunteers from the Health Centre Collective.


Simultaneously, submissions were written and sent to the Department of Health requesting ongoing funding for a Women’s Health Centre. Another submission was written for a CEP grant to get the service up and keep it going until Department of Health money was finally granted.


We were finally granted Department of Health funding in 1984. Local women were approached with skills that would enhance the centre’s holistic approach and provide th choices in health care that had previously been unavailable to Shoalhaven Women.


During the initial setting up period, Shoalhaven made contact with other already established Women’s Health Centre’s, such as Liverpool and Leichhardt to learn how Centre’s were structured and administered.


By the end of 1986 we had employed a counsellor, two administration workers, a child care worker, a receptionist, two doctors, a herbalist and a masseuse.


We had an up and running Mother’s Support Group and had become well known as a drop in and information centre for local women.


Staff began training in a wide variety of areas and were taking advantage of every seminar and workshop made available to them.


Through the expressed needs of local women, SWHC has grown and evolved over the years. A wide variety of services and health promotion programs continue to be provided for Shoalhaven Women.


The centre sees itself as a continually evolving organisation. Local women still use us as a first point of contact for information on a wide variety of issues from health and medical, through to legal and financial. We also provide information and access to holistic and alternative medicines, and general information on local services and practitioners. We pride ourselves on delivering multidisciplinary, integrated client centred service focusing on intervention and prevention.