The Sunrise women’s groups provide over 70 women in our community with a regular, welcoming space to meet other women and feel connected. The groups have been providing support to women in our community for nearly 30 years.
The groups take place in different locations right across Melbourne’s west. The calendar of activities is set each year in collaboration with the participants, and they enjoy a combination of health and wellbeing education sessions and social activities.
Some of the recent activities undertaken by the women include sessions on respectful relationships, self-esteem and gender equality. They have also undertaken social outings, craft activities and wellbeing sessions such as music therapy.
Women living with a disability often experience social isolation, exclusion from decision-making, and high rates of violence and abuse.
The groups give the women confidence, help them to understand and improve their health and wellbeing, and foster social networks.
Unfortunately, the Sunrise program is facing a reduction in funding in the coming financial year.
We are calling on our community of supporters in the west to help us to continue to provide this vital service for women living with a disability. You can help to support women living with a disability by making a tax deductible donation to Women’s Health West.
Peta has lived with varying degrees of physical disability and illness for most of her life, and uses a wheelchair.
Prior to joining Sunrise, Peta underwent surgery to amputate one of her legs. This had a significant impact on her social and civic life. She was referred to Sunrise by her rehabilitation nurse, because she was quickly becoming socially isolated, with few opportunities to be away from her parent’s home, which she’d moved to after her surgery.
Before attending Sunrise, Peta expressed mixed feelings about joining. Her nurse reported to us that Peta’s apprehension was partly due to a personal struggle with a new identity. The Sunrise coordinator worked with Peta to encourage her to give the group a go. Peta met with Women’s Health West’s Sunrise coordinator, and a few months later, began attending the group.
Peta experiences ongoing struggles with pain and pain management. She recently undertook a detox program to try to reduce her use of strong pain killers. Shortly after her detox program, she had a set-back after developing an ulcer on her foot. Throughout this time, she continued to communicate with the Sunrise coordinators and participants, and tried to attend Sunrise as often as she could.
Peta told Women’s Health West that Sunrise has had a huge impact on her life.
She says it’s helped her to recognise that she is valued, and how much she values others. Peta says she’s learned patience and a renewed curiosity in extending her skills. In addition, she also says she simply enjoys spending time with the other women in the group, who she now considers friends. She says it also serves as a productive distraction from reducing pain medication because the company and support make her feel relaxed.
In her recent Sunrise plan review, Peta set new goals for the coming year that she hopes will enhance her experience of Sunrise. These include re-learning how to drive, understanding the NDIS and getting some more experience travelling on the train with the Sunrise group.
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