Social Model of Health (open link to view )

Sydney Women’s Counselling Centre is one of 4 specialist Women’s Health Services and 17 Women’s Health Centres that make up Women’s Health NSW. This network of associations works from the “Principles of Women’s Health” to provide women centred health and wellbeing services across NSW.

The principles of social justice and an understanding of a gendered approach to health or health within a social context are central to our framework. These are derived from:

The Social Model of Health that recognizes

  • health is determined by a broad range of social, environmental, economic and biological factors
  • differences in health status and health objectives are linked to gender, age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, disability, location and environment, racism, sex-role stereotyping, gender inequality and discrimination, ageism, sexuality and sexual preferences.
  • health promotion, disease prevention, equity of access to appropriate and affordable services and strengthening the primary health care system are necessary, along with high quality illness treatment services.
  • information, consultation, advocacy and community development are important elements of the health process

Trauma Informed Care that is underlined by an focus on


Physical and emotional safety for clients and staff is embedded in policy and procedures and is a fundamental aspect of first contact and ongoing service. It is an assertion that women who have experienced child abuse, domestic and family violence and other co occurring issues are at risk of being re traumatized if there is real or perceived danger in the physical/emotional environment in which they seek counseling.


Confidentiality and privacy systems are in place and any exceptions to confidentiality such as risk of self harm and/or harm to others are discussed with clients at the outset of counselling. This includes legislative requirements for reporting including subpoenas and exceptions under NSW Privileges under the Evidence Amendment (Confidential Communication)Act.


Counselling at SWCC gives space for client’s unheard voices, along with a safe space to reflect on their own needs and develop more confidence to use
their identified skills and strengths, also to develop new skills and strategies that they can use to better manage/improve depression, anxiety, self esteem, assertiveness, problem solving, relationships and other unhelpful behaviours such as self harm, and substance dependence/gambling which impact them and other significant people in their lives. Clients are encouraged and supported to make empowering decisions at whatever level and in whatever stage of change they are in.


As many abuse survivors have complex co occurring issues, with the exception of explicit priorities such as safety and serious health issues, counselling
is guided by the client’s choices at any one time about what they do or do not want to explore. Clients are supported to make empowering decisions.
Clients may be mandated into counselling by the justice system or FACS who have their own agenda that does not therapeutically fit with the client’s readiness and/or capacity to work on without serious risk of re-traumatisation. In these instances counsellors advocate on behalf of clients to re pace agendas appropriate to where the client is at (with the exception of explicit priorities such as safety and serious health issues).