The Women Partners of Bisexual Men Service originated in the 1980s as part of strategies the NSW Government implemented with the aim of controlling the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Volunteer counsellors on the Gay and Lesbian Counselling phone line noticed the numbers of men who were ringing for support who were in relationships with women. As a result, counsellors began to ask each other about what was available in terms of support to help the women partners of these men.
With the support of the AIDS Council of NSW (now known as ACON) a peer support group of women began. By 1991 ACON had successfully applied for government funding for the purpose of improving the sexual and emotional health of women partners of same sex attracted men. Some men were married, some were boyfriends – but the common experience was that these women were in relationships with men who were sexually active with other men, or actively questioning their sexual orientation.
During this time research conducted by ACON in Sydney, and similar research in Queensland and South Australia, continued to highlight the numbers of men engaging in same sex behaviour who were also in relationships with women.
By 1999 ACON had recognised difficulties with the service being located with ACON as it was the main support service for same-sex attracted men and women had expressed their reluctance to seek support from the service that was supporting their husbands/boyfriends. ACON approached Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre to take responsibility for the Women Partners of Bisexual Men Service as a more suitable location. Leichhardt Women’s welcomed the addition of this specific client group and in 2000 Leichhardt entered into a funding agreement with NSW Health.
Since 2000, the Women Partners Service has been integrated in Leichhardt Women’s Health Centre and part of the network of 20 women’s health centres in NSW. The feedback from women who’ve engaged in counselling and support has been overwhelming, and the Service has grown to be recognised as providing a valuable niche service to women in need.
Within its first five years at Leichhardt, the Women Partners Service experienced a steady and significant increase in demand, and over 2,100 women have used the service since it found a home at Leichhardt.
Every year we receive around 100 enquiries for support from new women who subsequently attend counselling, support groups, or stay connected through telephone or email support.
While there are a few volunteer-based support groups around the world, it is believed the Women Partners of Bisexual Men Service is the only funded service of its kind.
Donations are tax deductible and greatly increase our ability to reach women who are experiencing disadvantage.
For more information, please contact [email protected] or (02) 9560 3011.