In mid 1987 a Women’s Health discussion day was initiated by a local CYSS (Community Youth Support Scheme) worker at Kangaroo Flat Community House. The response from women was quite startling, both in terms of the number of women who attended and the intensity and enthusiasm of their discussions. Arising from this meeting the Bendigo Women’s Health Collective was formed and commenced meeting on a fortnightly basis at a range of venues around Bendigo. The establishment of this group coincided with the release of the report ‘Why Women’s Health: Victorian Women Respond’. In receiving this report and the list of recommendations it contained, the local group decided to appoint its own working party to prepare a submission to investigate whether or not there was a need for a Women’s Health Service in the Loddon Campaspe Sub-Region.
This group met throughout August 1987 and decided that, because of the size and diversity of the region, it would be appropriate to undertake a research project to ascertain women’s views on their own health needs as well as identifying any gaps in existing health services for women. The Loddon District Health Council was approached to auspice the project.
A Steering Committee was formed consisting of three representatives of the Loddon District Health Council, three representatives from the Bendigo Women’s Health Collective, a representative from Health Department Victoria and a representative of rural women.
A submission was presented to Mr. John O’Neill, Regional Director, Health Department Victoria in September 1987. His response was immediate and positive. Negotiations consisted of establishing a timetable and costs for undertaking the project. In October 1987 the position was advertised and the project worker was appointed in 1987. (A Stitch in Time 1988)
The findings of the Women’s Health Research Project are contained in the report “A Stitch in Time’ which is valuable reading in gaining an understanding of the Loddon Campaspe Sub-Region.
The Project was successful in obtaining funding from the Health Department Victoria and was officially opened in June 1989.
The service took up residence in a small, welcoming house at 125 Wills Street, Bendigo. The service grew significantly over the next two years. Premises became inadequate especially as Loddon Campaspe Women’s Health Service (LCWHS) itself began auspicing projects such as the Birthing Practices Project and Resource Production Projects which meant an increase in staff numbers.
Growth in staff required new premises
The service took the decision to move, in May 1991, to 31 Mackenzie Street, Bendigo (a beautiful Victorian residence) where it continued to offer services until December, 1995. In January 1996 the service chose to co-locate in a central position at 48 Queen Street, Bendigo with women from Community Health Bendigo and from March 1998 until May 2003 the service was the sole occupant of the premises. Due to the rising costs of leasing commercial premises in Bendigo it was decided that Loddon Mallee Women’s Health needed to purchase it’s own building to decrease the growing overheads.
Our Ouyen office opened in May 1997.
In May 2003 Loddon Mallee Women’s Health purchased Pembroke House at 47 Myers Street, Bendigo and it was officially opened by Jacinta Allan, Minister for Education Services, Employment & Youth Affairs on the 2nd of October 2003.
We are now called Women’s Health Loddon Mallee to bring our service in line with other women’s health services.