Coffs Harbour Women’s Health Centre was established in 1986 to provide health services to women and girls on the Coffs Coast. Our services have expanded and we now provide a wide range of medical, allied health and education activities.
We welcome all women to utilise our Centre and its services but encourage women most at risk of ill health (culturally, socially and the economically disadvantaged: disabled, indigenous, carers and domestic violence).
The Centre is a safe place for women. Men are welcome to attend appointments with their partner, we ask that men treat the service with respect and remain in the waiting room or other areas as requested.
Whilst at the Centre, we ask you to respect the rights and privacy of all women who visit or work at the Centre.
Coffs Harbour Women’s Health Centre operates according to established statewide standards. Services are provided within a feminist context which:
- Recognises the social, environmental, economic, physical, emotional and cultural factors which influence the health of a woman
- Recognises and challenges the effects of sex-role stereotyping and gender discrimination on a woman’s health and wellbeing
- Reflects the whole of a woman’s lifespan, her various and changing roles and responsibilities, as well as her reproductive life
- Actively encourages the empowerment of a woman in both the personal and social aspects of her life
- Values a woman’s own knowledge and skills and her right to make informed decisions about her health.
The Coffs Harbour Women’s Health Centre has been serving the community since 1986, opening in March in two rooms on Park Beach Road.
The Centre owes its origins to a group of seventeen local women who, back in 1973, met to form the Coffs Harbour branch of the Cowper Women’s Electoral Lobby (known as WEL). WEL researched the needs of women in this community and found that the top priorities for the area were for a women’s refuge and a family planning unit.
So, by 1978, Warrina Women’s Refuge opened its doors, providing a safe environment from domestic violence situations for women and their children. With further work of a small group of dedicated women, a Women’s Resource Centre was opened in 1982. This was a place of information and support, where women were empowered by the concepts of self-help and networking. During 1983, WEL was absorbed into this Resource Centre and their work continued such that the following year a Family Planning Unit was established at the Community Health Centre.
By 1985, major health fears grew in the region due to the spraying of agricultural chemicals. Urgent investigation was intensified, and the now internationally known “Women For Health” came into being. With local health needs becoming more pressing, the time was right for a women’s health centre to be established in Coffs Harbour, with women in the community contributing to the planning.
Thus our Centre opened its doors in 1986 – and within hours of opening the service was booked out 3 months ahead! The original Resource Centre was absorbed into the new Coffs Harbour Women’s Health Centre.
As demand for services increased, the need for larger premises was evident, so in March 1990, the Centre moved from Park Beach Road to lease a well-suited building at 81 West High Street. The service has since continued to flourish and expand, and even survived the misery of the November 1996 flood which swept through the Centre.
With continual growth in staffing levels and storage needs, the Centre outgrew these facilities after only a few years, but managed to make do in the crowded environment for several more years till more suitable and affordable premises could be found. The Centre re-located to premises at 74 Victoria Street on 29 January 2002 where it is currently located.
Today, the Coffs Harbour Women’s Health Centre is recognised as a well-respected multi-disciplinary health centre supporting the needs of women and girls on the Coffs Coast.
The Centre remains a not-for-profit, community based organisation providing low or no cost health services to women most at risk of ill health (culturally, socially, and economically disadvantaged; disabled, indigenous, carers and domestic violence).