Sun may set on women’s group

Women taking part in the Sunrise program. Photo: Women's Health West

By Alesha Capone

A group which offers education and social activities for women with disabilities, mental health issues and chronic illnesses is facing an uncertain future, due to a cut in funding.

The Sunrise women’s groups, run by Women’s Health West (WHW), meet fortnightly in Laverton, Sunshine and Wyndham.

Under the initiative, WHW also runs a group in Melton for carers.

The Sunrise program, which has been running for more than three decades, is attended by about 70 women every year.

The Sunrise program is mostly funded by the state government, along with some funding from the commonwealth.

But as government funding doesn’t cover the full costs of running the program, WHW has been contributing its own money to help keep the program afloat for many years.

In addition, the introduction of the NDIS means Women’s Health West is set to lose about one third of the government funding it receives for the Sunrise groups.

Star Weekly understands that WHW has already been forced to reduce the number of Sunrise groups it offers.

From January next year, WHW have to cease running the Melton group and it will need to review the entire Sunrise program next year.

In response, WHW has launched a fundraising campaign, asking for donations from the public, to help keep the Sunrise program afloat.

WHW’s strategy, advocacy and community engagement director Louise Falconer, said: “Women’s Health West’s Sunrise program has a number of tangible benefits for women in our community who are living with a disability.

“We’re committed to raising as much funding as we can to ensure its longevity.”

A state government spokesperson said: “A portion of Women’s Health West Home and Community Care – Program for Younger People (HACC–PYP) funding is being transferred to the NDIS according to the number of their clients who transition to the new scheme.”

The spokesperson said Women’s Health West would continue to receive HACC–PYP funding to support clients not eligible for the NDIS.

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