The Cumberland Women’s Health Centre’s Lesbian Access Project may face closure in June if funding cannot be found.

Based in Parramatta, the project offers a vital outreach service for same-sex attracted women in the western suburbs.

Lesbian Access project officer Khadine Aharon said the work the service does assisting same-sex attracted women was vital for the area and totally different from the services provided in the inner city.

What we’re doing is filling the gap and making sure these women living in the western suburbs are being accessed, she said.

Isolation is a big problem for women in the western suburbs. It can be hard for them to get into the city to access services, or it’s too far to head out to socialise.

It’s also that a lot of women don’t actually identify with city life. A lot of the women we work with have children, or they come from a broad range of cultural backgrounds. It’s a different experience for women living here.

The service focuses on assisting women in the local area to develop their own social and support networks.

We try to provide whatever the women ask for within the constraints of our funding, Aharon told Sydney Star Observer.

We run regular workshops, we have a weekly Friday morning discussion group that women can drop in to and we really try to support women to develop their own networks because a lot of women find it hard to meet other lesbian women in the west.

In Parramatta you can’t be as open about your relationships or sexuality. It is a common thing to hear about women being harassed while they walk down the street, so it’s hard when you can’t be open about it.

So we’ve helped women start up a coffee group, a breakfast group and a picnic group for women with children. If we don’t manage to get more funding in June, then these groups will keep going, but we won’t be there to assist further.

It’s hard to find ongoing funding, and that’s really what we need out here so we can continue to empower women to set up their own support networks, so that in the end it can exist without funding.

The Cumberland Women’s Centre is at 29 Campbell St, Parramatta. Phone 9689 3044 or visit www.cwhc.org.au for more information.

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