Wayside brings help for women-in-need under one roof
Even before the ribbon is cut and the staff have arrived, a new comprehensive program to help disadvantaged women regain long-term stability has seen its first client.
Wayside Chapel will launch a program on Thursday that offers women a safe space and the opportunity to receive gender-specific support tailored to their individual experiences.
There's a kitchen, laundry facilities, shower and consultation room, co-located with the new Wayside Chapel Healthcare clinic.
Specialised female care coordinators will be available to work on complex cases with referrals to other agencies including housing, welfare, addiction and legal support.
By bringing services under one roof, help that could have taken a few months to arrange and provide for Lana Mercer's first client on Monday was done by Tuesday.
"It was quite a serious domestic violence situation so I was very happy to dive into that," the women's program team leader told AAP.
"(The client) is really motivated for her recovery right now and because of that I can strike while the iron is hot and have time saved by everything being right here."
Ms Mercer said women experiencing disadvantage had histories of generational trauma and discrimination and immediate needs of housing or food that made seeking help far harder than the average person.
"(Here) they're getting a care coordinator who really understands all those layers of disadvantage and can advocate for them and can assist to make sure they're not telling their story 15 times," she said.
It comes as the cost-of-living and the housing crises push more people to the brink.
Lifeline has reported a 49 per cent rise in referrals for people calling about financial issues and homelessness in the past six months, while women, particularly those over the age of 55, are now considered the face of homelessness in Australia due to surging numbers.
Wayside hopes its new program will help 1200 more women over two years, while acknowledging 15,000 women in NSW face homelessness.
Ensuring clients could access culturally safe and trauma-informed care without repeating themselves is a key motivator for Wayside's GP-led service, also launching Thursday.
Free, equitable and accessible to all genders, it builds on a successful nurse-led pilot in 2021.
Medical director Lilon Bandler said the service wouldn't require a Medicare card and would aim to overcome barriers to healthcare such as trust and finances by bringing it under the Wayside banner.
About 30 per cent of Wayside visitors were Indigenous people and their "consistent experience of health care is very poor", Dr Bandler said.
"There's still a lot of racism experienced by them in their interactions with the health care providers,'' she said.
"So they're quite reluctant to engage again."