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Official opening of Gidget House Clayton at Jean Hailes

Jean Hailes news 5 May 2021
Arabella Gibson, Dr Katie Allen, Janet Michelmore AO

L-R: Gidget Foundation Australia CEO Arabella Gibson, Federal Member for Higgins Dr Katie Allen and Jean Hailes CEO Janet Michelmore AO.

The emotional wellbeing of women at risk of perinatal depression and anxiety is at the heart of a joint initiative officially launched on 3 May by Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and Gidget Foundation Australia.

Gidget House Clayton, located at Jean Hailes’s Clayton clinic, will provide free psychological counselling services for expectant and new parents, delivered by Gidget’s team of local perinatal clinicians.

An estimated 100,000 people are affected by perinatal depression and anxiety in Australia each year.

The service was officially launched yesterday by the Federal Member for Higgins, Dr Katie Allen.

Dr Allen, a former paediatrician, described parenthood as a “life-changing, joyous, but often also terrible time for people.”

“The shame that people feel about the mixed feelings they have about being a new parent is incredibly difficult for them to open up [about],” she said.

“To have that interaction at Gidget House in Clayton is going to provide totally pragmatic and practical ways to help people understand the journey they are on.”

Dr Katie Allen, Federal Member for Higgins

Jean Hailes CEO, Janet Michelmore AO, said that it was widely recognised that women’s health had been “disproportionately affected during the pandemic”.

“It is now our goal to work with partners and women across Australia to address this pressing need,” said Ms Michelmore.

“These two organisations are about making the invisible very visible. They are about connecting, and they are about communicating and importantly, they are about getting the conversation started.”

The launch of the face-to-face services at Gidget House Clayton comes after a year of treatments through telehealth. Arabella Gibson, CEO of Gidget Foundation Australia, said that over the past year, the organisation had increased its services by 243%.

“Whilst it is unfortunate that there is a such a need for this support at all, we’re pleased to be able to help expectant and new parents when they are at their most vulnerable,” she said.

Since the ‘virtual’ opening of Gidget House Clayton at the height of last year’s pandemic, more than 80 Victorian families have been helped with over 500 appointments.

The collaboration between the two organisations is more than a meeting of minds and values. “We both champion preventive health and deliver evidence-based programs born from research and clinical engagement,” explained Ms Michelmore.

“For nearly 30 years Jean Hailes has listened and responded to women and their health professionals. We identify their needs and fill gaps in health information, research and services. It has to be a whole-of-life investment – this saves lives and money, making it the best buy in the health sector.”

Professor Jane Fisher, Finkel Professor of Global Health at Monash University and former director of the Jean Hailes Research Unit, said the new collaboration demonstrated the pace of growth of Jean Hailes since its founding nearly 30 years ago as a menopause clinic.

“While we remain a trusted go-to for women at midlife, we now also meet the health information and clinical needs of women at every life stage, from their teenage years and beyond,” she said.

“This new partnership with Gidget Foundation Australia shows how two organisations can work together to identify a gap in knowledge and care, and use their combined resources to get the best results for women who need that knowledge and care to get through their challenges.”

Professor Jane Fisher, Finkel Professor of Global Health at Monash University

To book an appointment at Gidget House Clayton, call Gidget Foundation Australia on 1300 851 758 or (02) 9460 1550.