Aftermath Of Immigrant Women’s Health Service Closure

By Belinda Palmada

Last year’s closure of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service in Fairfield left many women with nowhere to go for the resources they need for support.

Funding by the NSW Health Department was cut last June when Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigated former CEO Eman Sharobeem allegedly spending more than 500,000 in public funds to pay for holidays, gym memberships, jewellery, furniture and luxury goods for her family.

The not-for-profit organisation had been part of the community for more than 25 years and offered free support, legal, counselling and health services to immigrant and refugee women.

At the time no one knew what would to the women who use the services and the employees after the centre closed or where the centre will relocate and reopen.

“We are saddened by the closure of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service” A spokeswoman for Core Community Services said.

“We do as much as we can to support all immigrants, refugees, people on a humanitarian visa and migrants through Multicultural Communities.”

“There’s a whole lot of organisations within the communities that provide to the closure.”

South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) was exploring ways to continue delivering services to immigrant women and newly-arrived refugees.

Since the centre’s closing, the majority of the classes have reallocated to other services that support migrant women and their families living in south western Sydney, including Core Community Services, STARTTS and NSW Family planning.

A spokeswoman for SWSLHD said: The Immigrant Women’s Health Service provided services to approximately 70 women who had now transitioned to other services.

Services provided by these organisations include counselling, health literacy, chronic disease management and prevention, mental health services, pregnancy and antenatal education.

STARTTS has set up a new office in Fairfield where they have helped many people since the new office has opened.

The specialist, non-profit organisation which helps people and communities from refugee backgrounds, has serviced several clients in Fairfield, Carramar, Auburn, Liverpool and Blacktown.

“It’s been busy.” A spokeswoman for STARTTS said

“We have quite a lot of clients coming through there,

“We are quite inundated with calls and clients are coming in as a result of that.”

When asked about coping with the demand after the centre closed, STARTTS spokeswoman said they were trying.

“We do get a lot of referrals coming through even now,” she said.

With 12,000 refugees settling in the Sydney’s southwest region from countries Syria and Iraq, Fairfield has taken up to 75 per cent of all western Sydney’s refugee intake.

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