Twenty years' support

Celebrating 20 years of Women’s Health Matters, Pamela Craven and Helga Jolley.
Celebrating 20 years of Women’s Health Matters, Pamela Craven and Helga Jolley. Jay Cronan

A NORTH Coast health service run by women for women will celebrate its 20th birthday today.

Women's Health Matters was launched in Lismore in 1992 to promote health, counselling and education services for mid-life and older women on the North Coast.

The health service employs doctors, counsellors and a health promotion officer.

They also employ an outreach nurse who regularly provides services such as cervical cancer screening to women in isolated communities such as Bonalbo.

Health promotion officer Pamela Craven said the service has assisted "thousands" of women in the past 20 years.

Ms Craven said this is particularly evident when women give feedback about how they have benefited from the service.

"It's surprising how learning some assertiveness skills can just turn people's lives around," Ms Craven said.

"I've had people come up to me in the street and say, 'That group I did with you made all the difference and my life has been so much better since'. We hear that sort of comment pretty regularly."

Women's Health Matters is geared towards providing "holistic" assistance that will bring long-term physical and mental health benefits for women.

While women's rights have progressed in Australia in the past 20 years, Ms Craven said it's still vital to have health services for women.

"I think women do have a more difficult time in our culture and society.

"They do still face a lot of discrimination and domestic violence is a huge issue. Women are often coping under difficult circumstances and I think that's particularly true for older women."

Counsellor Helga Jolley said many women experiencing social isolation have gained confidence through Women's Health Matters.

"By coming to our groups it can reduce their social isolation because they meet other people and make social connections," Ms Jolley said.

Page MP Janelle Saffin and Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell will speak at a reunion at Women's Health Matters today.

"There won't be champagne but there will be healthy refreshments," Ms Craven said with a laugh.


Women's Day events

An exhibition titled 'Inspiring Women, Photographs, Artwork and Stories' will be held at Mullumbimby Civic Hall from 5pm until 8pm tomorrow. Performances by the Arakwal Dubay Dancers, Shea O'Toole, Pheobe Lines, Songbirds Women's Choir and the Lucky Wonders. Barbecue available from Quota along with light refreshments. 6684 4299 for info.

Media personality Deborah Hutton will host a forum and networking event for women in business for the Australian Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The free event in Byron Bay runs from 9am-2pm tomorrow but is booked out.

A free screening of short films from the 2011 World of Women's Cinema festival will be shown tomorrow at the Kyogle Community Cinema at 26 Bloore St, Kyogle. The Chicks on Flicks screening starts at 3.30pm, with intermission at 5pm. There will be guest speakers, a lucky door prize and afternoon tea during intermission. The free films start again at 5.30pm.

International speaker Nikone Nanong from Laos will address the Ballina Chamber of Commerce and Industry - Ballina Shire International Women's Day Lunch this Friday. There will be a two-course lunch and guest speakers at Ballina RSL from midday until 3pm. Tickets are $45. Phone 6681 5049.

Comedian and writer Mandy Nolan will host a free talk at the Mullumbimby Library on Friday followed by afternoon tea from the CWA. The talk kicks off at 1.30pm. Bookings on 6684 2992.

Lennox Head Chamber of Commerce will host a lunch at the Beef'n'Beach on Friday at 12.30pm.

The Lennox Head Women's Group will hold a lunch at midday today at the CWA Hall.

Topics:  birthday counselling education

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