Forty years on, The Spiers Centre in Heathridge, and Women’s Healthworks (now part of Women’s Health and Family Services) and the Patricia Giles Centre, both in Joondalup, are a vital part of their community.
Together, the three groups have notched up 80-plus years service, a chance for Rhonda Adamsam (Spiers), Mandy Stringer (WHW) and Kedy Kristal (Pat Giles) to reflect on their achievements for women and children.
The Spiers Centre (known for many years as Granny Spiers Community House) began in 1980 as an informal group meeting in local homes to support women ‘in the new and isolated area’ of Heathridge’.
The group became Heathridge-Beldon Women’s Community Group (and later Ocean Ridge Women’s Community Group), offering art/craft classes, personal development and recreational activities along with childcare.
Today, the centre is the go-to for financial counselling, emergency relief and social/support groups, with demand for ‘helping services’ more than trebling especially in the last 10 years.
‘While there have been many political, environmental and economic changes over the years, the needs of people who are financially disadvantaged have not changed ” in many cases they have worsened,’ chief executive Rhonda Adamsam said.
With 25 years behind them, both Women’s Healthworks (health, education and resource centre) and the Patricia Giles Centre (for victims of domestic violence) are also dealing with increased demand.
Women’s Healthworks is adding in services, particularly in the burgeoning far northern suburbs, having recently rekindled its partnership with the larger Women’s Health and Family Services.
‘Our services continue to expand to respond to the growing needs of women and their families,’ said manager Mandy Stringer, who has 18 years with the centre.
‘We recognise that many women in the northern suburbs are socially isolated and offer ways for them to connect through community choirs, craft and walking groups.’
Other services include sexual health clinics, support groups for those with eating disorders and post-natal depression-anxiety, general and specific counselling.
From small beginnings in Marangaroo, the Patricia Giles Centre has grown to include the purpose-built Rebecca West House, post-refuge accommodation, housing/outreach support, counselling and a safe pet program.
Chief executive Kedy Kristal, who joined the refuge 22 years ago and now leads 40 staff, said there had been an ever-increasing demand for services for women and children facing domestic and family violence.
‘The centre values the tremendous support we receive from the local community and looks forward to a future when our services are no longer needed,’ she said.