Support and Advocacy for Pregnant Women Experiencing Homelessness
June 12 2018
Pregnant women experiencing homelessness face a wide range of barriers to accessing crucial clinical services and care while often facing a lack of social and family support.
In particular, these include challenges in accessing transportation to clinical appointments, added financial costs for important health checks, not to mention the need for a safe and secure home.
“We’ve seen numerous obstacles hindering a pregnant woman’s ability to access health services in a housing crisis.”
– Hardeep, Housing Support Team Coordinator
To help address these challenges, our housing support team at South Melbourne has a dedicated Pregnancy Outreach Support Worker providing case management focusing on support and advocacy for women during their pregnancy.
Our Outreach Support Worker advocates for pregnant women in a housing crisis ensuring health service professionals understand the impact homelessness can have on a women’s ability to attend medical appointments.
This specialist outreach program for single pregnant women experiencing homelessness is providing invaluable assistance to maintain health and housing during pregnancy.
Support staff have built a strong network with local health services to ensure the right access to clinical care during a housing crisis, with the goal to move into a safe and secure home.
Past Experiences Can Affect Parenting
Research shows for women who have experienced early childhood abuse or trauma the later negative impacts of these experiences can affect their childbirth experience.
Support workers from our South Melbourne team have seen the negative impact early childhood abuse or trauma have had for some women experiencing homelessness while pregnant.
Past experiences created situations or events where they’ve felt helpless, scared, out of control and/or overwhelmed.
Because of complex issues that can surface during this vulnerable time our team works to build a strong relationship with health care professionals for the duration of care.
Housing Support Coordinator Hardeep says advocacy and education is important for health service professionals as women can face a number of challenges without the usual family supports in place to assist in clinical care.
The Pregnancy Outreach Program has assisted 40 pregnant women experiencing homelessness since 2017.
The support team at South Melbourne hope to expand the program in future offering assistance to families as well as other Launch Housing crisis accommodation centers and our homelessness entry points.