About us

staff at 15 year celebration

Women with a lived experience of cancer are uniquely placed to help other women with a cancer diagnosis to live well. Our service is based on this simple but powerful idea.

If you have experienced breast or a gynaecological cancer, you are welcome to access our services free of charge.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have had to modify our service. From March 2020, we are providing the following services:

Until further notice, we have suspended our library service, in-person peer support programs and all group activities that can't be held online.

The Women's Health Victoria logo (Blue and orange writing with a teal women's symbol)           Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Registered Charity logo

Counterpart is a service of Women's Health Victoria.

Counterpart is supported by the Victorian Government. We are also supported by a range of other organisations who are acknowledged on our supporters page.

Our story

Following years of campaigning by women with breast cancer, a pilot project was funded by the Victorian Government in 2003 to create a breast cancer information and drop-in centre. Women’s Health Victoria, in partnership with consumer advocates and other women’s health services, was successful in securing the tender and BreaCan was born.

Our Peer Support Volunteers have been at the core of our service since the very beginning, helping to build a high quality, professional service trusted by women with cancer and health professionals. In 2007, we extended our service to women with a gynaecological cancer.

Since then, the service has grown into a holistic, woman-centred service that has a reputation for providing high quality and tailored peer support, evidence-based information and a range of programs, connecting women with breast or a gynaecological cancer to the support they need, when they need it.

We recognise that each woman’s experiences of cancer are different, but we also know that women with cancer have many similar experiences, unique to their gender and the role of women in our society. We are a service that prides itself on listening to the voices of women living with cancer and developing responsive and relevant programs to meet their needs.

In 2017, we launched our new brand Counterpart – women supporting women with cancer. Counterpart, which can mean peer, reflects the trust, warmth, care and positive energy created when women connect and support each other. Our new name celebrates the essence of our service – the special connection between the women who use our service and our Peer Support Volunteers.

Counterpart acknowledges and pays our respects to the Traditional Custodians of the land our offices are situated on, the peoples of the Kulin Nation. As a statewide service, we also acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands and waters across Victoria. We pay our respects to them, their cultures and their Elders past and present.

We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded and that we are beneficiaries of stolen land and dispossession, which began over 200 years ago and continues today.

Our service principles

Acknowledge difference – We recognise that every person’s experience of breast or a gynaecological cancer is different and must be seen in the broader context of their lives.

No advice – We share experiences and give support, we do not give medical, legal or financial advice or counselling.

Welcoming environment – We provide a welcoming, accessible and safe environment.

Encourage participation – We actively encourage people to participate in the development and operation of the service.

Empower people – We are committed to enhancing people’s skills and capacity to make their own informed choices.

Respect privacy – We respect the privacy of people using our service.

Non-judgemental – We provide information and support in a non-judgemental way.

High standards – We maintain high standards in all aspects of the service and regularly evaluate the service’s relevance to consumers, its sustainability, and effectiveness.