Who We Are

MCWH is a national, community-based organisation which is led by and for women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. We are committed to advancing the health and wellbeing of immigrant and refugee women, through our leadership, education and advocacy: our experiences, our stories and our voices.

Our Vision is to be the national Voice for Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Wellbeing in Australia, while our Mission is to promote the wellbeing of immigrant and refugee women across Australia, through advocacy, social action, multilingual education, research and capacity building.

Our Approach

Social determinants of health

MCWH recognises that health and wellbeing is significantly affected by a range of social determinants, including gender, race, culture, class, employment status, sexuality, disability, age, and immigrant status.


MCWH is guided by the leadership of immigrant and refugee women in achieving equity and promoting their health and wellbeing. MCWH is committed to listening to, and representing, their voices in all their diversity, and in placing their issues at the centre of advocacy and policy development.

Education Exchange

MCWH learns from, and provides education to, immigrant and refugee women following a feminist peer education model where women's knowledge and experience is valued and respected, and education is delivered by respected and accredited bilingual educators.


MCWH works together with immigrant and refugee women, community organisations, health practitioners, employers, communities and governments to achieve equity and improve health and wellbeing for immigrant and refugee women.

Our Strategic Plan

Our goal from 2016-2020 is to magnify, focus and celebrate our significant and positive impact on immigrant and refugee women’s health and wellbeing across Australia.

You can download a printable version of our vision, mission, values and approach by clicking the document link below or view it online in flipbook version.

Our Annual Reports

2015 - 2016 was a fantastic year for MCWH. You can download our full report by clicking the document link below and feel free to take a look at our Annual Report for 2015.

Our Approach to Health Education

Our Health Education Programs have been providing health information to women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds since 1978. What makes our programs uniquely successful is:

  • our educators who share the language and cultural background of the women they go to meet;
  • our flexibility to meet women at locations and times that are convenient for them; and
  • our approach to providing information in a way that respects and empowers each woman to make informed choices.

All our core health promotion programs use a peer education model, or "woman to woman approach", that is based on the belief that sharing health information and experiences in a supportive environment is the best way to increasing women's health knowledge and wellbeing.

All our Bilingual Health Educators are professionally trained and can talk about health in the preferred languages of the women they meet with a shared understanding of their culture and the challenges of being an immigrant in Australia.

In keeping with our approach, MCWH has created a series of Quality Standards which underpin our approach to health education and training. MCWH has developed Quality Standards in these areas:

  • Women's Empowerment
  • Cultural and Linguistic Appropriateness
  • Accuracy of Health Information
  • Access and Equity
  • Confidentiality
  • Collaboration
  • Continuous Improvement

You can download a printable version of our vision, mission, values and approach by clicking the document link below.

Our History

In the late 1970s research was undertaken that found migrant women in Melbourne were experiencing higher rates of abortion. Why?

One clear reason was that many migrant women could not access information about their sexual and reproductive health outside the long hours they spent working in factories and in a language they could understand.

So, in 1977 a small pilot study trained bilingual educators to take contraception messages and information to migrant women while they were at work. The study successfully showed that if family planning education moved out of the clinics and into the community it could reach the migrant women who needed it most. Recognising the need for an organisation dedicated to migrant women’s health, MCWH began its life as Action for Family Planning (AFP) in 1978, continuing the model of educating women in their preferred language at their place of work.

That model continues today, as does our commitment to being an organisation that is run by immigrant and refugee women for immigrant and refugee women. Since 1978 MCWH has had a few name changes and now has a national reach, but in many ways the challenges remain the same. We will continue to adapt to meet the changing needs of immigrant and refugee communities in Australia.

You can read a more detailed history of the organisation by clicking the document link below.