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Bessie Smyth Foundation in Jeopary

The Bessie Smythe Foundation are about to lose their funding and may
have to close by december if funding is not restored. Bessie are a
feminist pregnancy options counselling and referal service. With the
federal  governments push to fund pregnancy “advice” lines outsourced
to anti-abortion organisations like the salvation army, smith family
etc, it is doubly important that organisations like Bessie continue to
exist. The state government has forced Bessie to a critical point by
its lack of funding.
Below is a letter sent out by an activist friend, and also the form
letter that Bessie are asking people to send to the minister. Writing
letters is better than nothing at this late stage.

---- From email ----
Dear friends,

I am writing to you as women activists, seeking your help with an urgent matter.

On 31 December 2006, the Bessie Smyth Foundation will have to close its doors
due to a lack of State Government funding.

For those of you who may not know about Bessie - the Bessie Smyth Foundation is
the only all-options, non-directive, non-judgmental pregnancy counselling
service in NSW. Bessie has been providing services to women since 1977,
following the following principles:
- women should not be coerced or forced into having a termination of pregnancy
- women should feel confident in their decision to become a parent
- women, when considering their options in relation to a pregnancy, should have
access to unbiased information to help with their decision-making process.

In the face of ongoing attacks on women's rights to access information on all
options in relation to their pregnancy - it is essential that Bessie
continues to provide this service, underpinned by a feminist ethos in NSW.

We urgently need your help as the Board and staff of Bessie prepare to meet with
senior bureaucrats in the NSW Health Department - the same people who have had
the funding application for almost two years and not acted on it. The service is
only requesting a budget of $298,000 to operate a statewide service for the
women of NSW - it is outrageous that NSW has not committed this funding! At
present case work will have to draw to a close in October to enable the service
to close by the end of the year. Those of us who have worked in Government know
how important it is to get the Minister's ear on these matters. We can only do
this now through a concerted letter writing campaign - a campaign that forces
discussion and action on the issue.

How you can help:
Please write to the NSW Minister for Health, John Hatzistergos, and your local
member - in the next couple of weeks - articulating your support for the service
and seeking a commitment to the ongoing funding of the service. We have
developed a draft letter (attached) please use/adapt the words as you see fit.
If you think that you won't be able to mail a letter off - please at the minimum
email the Minister for Health, voicing your concern. The contact details are:

The Hon. John Hatzistergos, BEc LLM MLC
Minister for Health
Level 31 Governor Macquarie Tower,
1 Farrer Place,
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone  (02) 9228 4977
Fax  (02) 9228 3600
Email  minjust@hatzistergos.minister.nsw.gov.au <http://by105fd.bay105.hotmail.msn.com/cgi-bin/compose?curmbox=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000001&amp;a=8f5bffd1ce1e1ae3c404a6a8ce34bbfa2b30e0de7ff1160bdbd15d6f1d8c7705&amp;mailto=1&amp;to=minjust@hatzistergos.minister.nsw.gov.au&amp;msg=842800A5-80FF-42>  

Please help build this campaign by forwarding to like-minded individuals. We
need to get as many letters/emails in before a funding meeting scheduled for mid
October. We can't let Tony Abbott's proposed 'counselling' service be the only
one provided to women.

I can help in any way by assisting with letter writing or even personally
delivering the letters - but really ask you to be active and support this cause.

Thanks in advance for your help.



Dear Minister

I am writing in relation to the ongoing funding of the Bessie Smyth Foundation
(BSF). I have heard that without NSW Government support, particularly from NSW
Health, the service will close on the 31 December 2006. This would be a
significant loss for women in NSW.

The Bessie Smyth Foundation has been providing a valuable service to women since
1977. BSF is valuable because it is the only non-directive pregnancy counselling
service for women. The service provides women with information on all options in
relation to their pregnancy in a non-judgmental fashion.

BSF also works in partnership with a range of government and non-government
services. For example, the service has a 29 year relationship of working with
NSW Health Services, particularly Women's Health Services. Such a long
relationship works to the benefit of NSW women, particularly the low income and

The Bessie Smyth Foundation is a well-respected organisation both with the
service system and with women. Having been operational for a number of years, a
significant number of women have accessed the service. Their positive
experiences mean that women know and trust the service.  BSF has also had a
long-standing practice of being there to support women who are already
marginalised by our society and who are vulnerable. This work has been
beneficial for women from diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds.

NSW needs a non-judgmental, non-directive, all options pregnancy counselling
service. I call on you as the NSW Minister for Health to urgently fund the
Bessie Foundation, so that NSW women can benefit from this excellent service
into the future.
I look forward to your positive response on this matter.

Yours Sincerely,


Political Perspectives: 


I dated a lebonese man for over 12 months and was in contact with him via the internet for well over 12 months before we first met. As soon as I was pregnant last xmas he ditched me and our baby. Since hiring a private investigator earlier this year we have found out that in the chat rooms these men give only a mobile phone number and false personal information and trap women into dating them using them for sexual puposes only. Then if the women falls pregnant, they force the women to commit fraud by stating they do not know who the father is with centerlink. Due to my being able to locate a private investigator i was able to track down the father of my child, and approach the church he and his family attend if only so that my child will know her grandparents and her heritage. As well as him being held accountable for his actions and responsibilities. 

There are no known departments to assist women in a situation like this, believe me Ive searched and tried. The law will only help if you can afford it, and the families of these guys may never know of children who exist simply because the morals in there family unit have been disrespected. Women are left to care for these children and suffer emotional and physical hardship ... without the appropriate support. I was advised of your organisation and i think its truly disgusting the authorities do not investigate stories like mine and many others in order to help us and put a stop to the greif and hardship ...

If you wish to use my story to keep your centre open and help others please do ... we girls need all the help we can get.

I thought australia said 'NO' to violence against women ... yet in our own backyards it is still happening due to the government departments refusal to make further options available for victims.