Media Release: Multicultural women’s health organisation and aged care provider partnering for the primary prevention of family violence

Five women standing in the Southern Cross Care offices, from left to right.

We are proud to be launching our new project in partnership with Southern Cross Care (Vic)! Equality@Work is the first workplace prevention program in Australia to address gender inequality and other intersecting forms of inequality which make immigrant and refugee women particularly vulnerable to family violence and other forms of violence against women.

The project is funded by the Victorian Government through the Community Partnerships for Primary Prevention Program.

A violence prevention program by a community-based organisation for women of immigrant and refugee backgrounds and a not-for-profit aged care provider has been given a boost, thanks to a grant from the Victorian Government through the Community Partnerships for Primary Prevention Program.
The Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) and Southern Cross Care (Vic) were delighted to receive a grant for their partnership project, Equality@Work, which aims to develop and implement a workplace model specific to immigrant and refugee female employees to prevent family violence and other forms of violence.

The partnership project will build on the existing relationship between the organisations. In 2013, Southern Cross Care (Vic) introduced a women’s health education program across the organisation followed by a women’s leadership program, both facilitated by MCWH.
“We are proud to partner with Southern Cross Care again, to build on previous and current initiatives that will further empower women and give them a stronger voice in the workplace,” said Adele Murdolo, Executive Director of MCWH.

“Female workers from immigrant and refugee backgrounds are a growing and increasingly dominant cohort within the Australian aged care workforce. As such, they are of critical importance to the sector’s viability in terms of addressing the need to care for Australia’s multicultural ageing population, which is expected to quadruple by 2050,” said Adele.

Executive Manager of Workforce and Culture at Southern Cross Care (Vic), Danielle Rose, said the grant will enable the organisation to further develop its gender equality and violence prevention model.

“Women account for over 88 per cent of our total workforce of 1400 employees, of which, more than 60 per cent are from an immigrant and refugee background,” she said. “Through our partnership with MCWH, we want to provide opportunities for women from a non-English speaking background to take a leadership role in championing gender equality and violence prevention, and to be involved in the engagement and development of a shared action plan that is meaningful to them.”

“As an accredited White Ribbon Workplace, we are committed to ending the cycle of violence against women. We will be engaging our White Ribbon Ambassador to assist in the promotion and facilitation of the project within the organisation,” said Danielle.

The Equality@Work project has commenced on 1 July. The model will be co-designed with staff at two locations – Southern Cross Care (Vic)’s community services office in the north-west region and the aged care home in Springvale. Once the model is developed, it can be adapted and implemented across all Southern Cross Care locations in Victoria. The project is expected to be completed in 12 months.

WHAV looks forward to a Victoria free from family violence

MEDIA RELEASE
3/05/2017

WHAV looks forward to a Victoria free from family violence
Victoria’s peak body for women’s health, safety and wellbeing congratulates the Victorian government on standing strong on their commitment to all 227 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The Women’s Health Association of Victoria (WHAV) believes the unprecedented investment of $1.9B will go a long way to making the difference that is needed for women and children experiencing violence to get the service responses they need to live free from violence.

WHAV is pleased to see a strong focus on improving family violence responses within culturally diverse, LGBTI and Aboriginal populations. We are also impressed with the investment in building the capacity of the family violence and social services workforces to prevent and respond to family violence.

WHAV Convenor, Kristine Olaris says “To end violence against women we need long term, coordinated action to change the social structures, norms and cultures that enable and support violence against women and children. Gender equality is the key.”

WHAV welcomes the inclusion of $50.7M in the budget to prevent family violence, which includes the implementation of today’s exciting release, the Free From Violence prevention strategy. It also funds a new state-wide independent Family Violence Prevention Agency to oversee the work in prevention. This is an important mechanism to ensure the longevity of this vital prevention focus beyond government cycles. The budget also includes $5.9M to implement Safe and Strong; A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy.

WHAV see these investments in prevention as an important show of the State government’s commitment to ending family violence in Victoria. We anticipate and will welcome additional funds in subsequent years to ensure the full implementation of the Safe and Strong, and Free From Violence strategies.
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Media enquiries: Kristine Olaris, WHAV Convenor, 9851 3700 or kolaris@whe.org.au

Who is the WHAV?
The Women’s Health Association of Victoria (WHAV) is the peak body for women’s health, safety and wellbeing across Victoria. WHAV represents the nine regional and two state-wide women’s health organisations (Women’s Health Victoria and the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health) funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. WHAV membership also includes Victorian specialist women’s organisations; Women with Disabilities Victoria, Positive Women and WIRE.

In order to improve health outcomes for women, our current key priorities include the prevention of violence against women, the promotion of gender equity and women’s sexual and reproductive health.

Regional women’s health services have been leading Prevention of Violence Against Women Action Plans in every metropolitan and rural region across the State, with support from other WHAV members.

WHAV: The women’s health peak body with specialist expertise, state-wide reach and a
regional focus

Media Release: Reflecting Victoria’s diverse population: what the Royal Commission into Family Violence Recommendations need to ensure

The Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) commends the work of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and is pleased to hear there will be increased capacity for organisations to prevent and respond to family violence.
Violence occurs across all communities and cultures, but it’s important to remember that family violence can also manifest differently and can have different effects in specific cultural settings.

‘Immigrant and refugee women’s social and economic marginalisation certainly adds another layer of complexity to their experience of family violence and this includes ways they seek assistance’, said Dr Adele Murdolo, MCWH Executive Director.

‘Prevention and early intervention programs, for example, are rarely accessible or appropriate to women from immigrant and refugee communities, and as a result, we often see these women over-represented in the crisis system,’ Dr Murdolo said. ‘But it’s also the case that women don’t know what support services are available in the first place.’

Of the 227 recommendations outlined in the Report, 48 refer to ‘family violence and diversity’, with 7 recommendations relating to ‘people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities’ (with 4 of these relating to use of interpreters). According to Dr Murdolo, it’s too early to know whether the majority of the other recommendations could potentially address the service needs of immigrant and refugee women.

‘There are some excellent and much-needed recommendations that recognise the gaps and challenges. However, there’s a danger of undermining everyone’s hard work if the recommendations aren’t given the proper context and detail. ‘Cultural and linguistic diversity’ isn’t simply a matter of speaking another language, it’s also about recognising differences in people’s experiences. Immigrant and refugee women’s experiences of seeking support are affected by a whole range of factors including social isolation, stigma, and stereotyping.’

MCWH urges the Government to commit to resourcing a skilled bicultural and bilingual workforce across Victoria that matches the demographic make-up of the community in order to meet the needs of specific communities.

‘Given Australia’s diverse population, it is essential that the report be read and understood within the context of ethnic and cultural diversity’, said Dr Murdolo. ‘What we need to ensure now is that the recommendations are truly universal in their reach and can make improvements across the whole community.’

New international evidence on violence in immigrant and refugee communities

ASPIRE Flyer 2015 SEP with sites
A review of international evidence published today has confirmed that migration helps make immigrant and refugee women more vulnerable to men’s violence against women. Violence occurs in all communities and cultures across Australia, but immigrant and refugee women face structural disadvantages that exacerbate and intensify their experiences and makes it harder for them to act.

The comprehensive review of international and Australian research finds that factors such as immigration policy, temporary and dependant visa status, along with social isolation and economic insecurity flowing from the settlement process, all play a role in making women more vulnerable to violence.

The State of Knowledge report, prepared by the Analysing Safety and Place in Immigrant and Refugee Experience (ASPIRE) research team, finds that perpetrators of violence are enabled to use women’s precarious, dependant and temporary visa status to wield control and power, and to restrict women’s access to services and knowledge, including about their rights and entitlements.

Chief investigator, Dr Cathy Vaughan from the University of Melbourne states, “the literature indicates that this synergy between the system and the perpetrator means that immigrant and refugee women endure violence for longer periods before seeking help, and require more contacts with the service system before getting the help they need.”

The Review also finds that immigrant and refugee women experience the same kinds of violence as all other women, but that in addition they appear more likely to experience multi-perpetrator violence from extended family and community members. Co-investigator, Dr Adele Murdolo from the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health states, “there seem to be key points at which our system makes immigrant and refugee women more isolated and dependent, which increases the power that others have over them, and limits their options for safety.”

Download or read the report online.

 For more information or to arrange an interview, contact an ASPIRE spokesperson

 Dr Cathy Vaughan, University of Melbourne: 0417 116 468
Dr Adele Murdolo, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health: 0438 823 299

The ASPIRE research project, funded by the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), is a partnership between the University of Melbourne, University of Tasmania and the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health.

Media Release: Sharing Our Strengths National Symposium on Best Practice Approaches to the Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting

There is no single approach to eliminate female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), but there are many approaches that do work best to end the practice.  This is the message at the core of the ‘Sharing Our Strengths’ symposium being held today.

Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) and Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights have worked together to stage the ‘Sharing Our Strengths’ symposium, a gathering of best practice approaches to FGM/C prevention.

Executive Director of MCWH, Dr Adele Murdolo said that it is also important to recognise the work being conducted around Australia to support the abandonment of the practice.

‘Many of these programs, some of which have been running for over 16 years, are community based and conducted by women from the communities most affected by FGM/C.’

Dr Murdolo said that women affected by FGM/C, as the group most directly impacted by the practice, need to recognised as leaders and change agents.

‘We only seem to hear about stories that are designed to make us feel us shocked, angry or pity, but such sentiments don’t and won’t do anything to prevent and stop the practice.’

Dr Murdolo said many of the speakers at the symposium are working at the front-line of community awareness and education and already demonstrate international best practice approaches to preventing the practice.

‘The international evidence on FGM/C prevention is clear: it’s essential that women most affected by FGM/C lead the charge to bring about its demise, but they can’t do it alone.  All communities and all levels of government need to support women’s leadership efforts in this area.’

Minister Cash will be launching MCWH’s National Education Toolkit for FGM/C Prevention at the Symposium.

Media Release: Voices of Change-Marking International Zero Tolerance Day to Female Genital Mutilation

Women from countries where female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is practiced are the best agents to put an end to the harmful practice.  This is the message at the core of the ‘Voices of Change’ event being held today to mark International Zero Tolerance Day to Female Genital Mutilation.

Women’s Health in the North, Mercy Health, Monash Health, North Yarra Community Health, Doutta Galla Community Health and Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) have worked together to stage the ‘Voices of Change’ event.

Executive Director of MCWH, Dr Adele Murdolo said that it is important to recognise the pivotal role women from affected communities play in preventing and eliminating FGM/C.

‘The global evidence is quite clear that community-based approaches are the most effective.  Our event is a rare opportunity to listen to and learn from women who have been working very hard with their communities to stop the practice.’

Dr Murdolo said that women affected by FGM/C, as the group most directly impacted by the practice, are at the core of successful programs.

‘We rarely hear about the good news stories and successes of the work being done in relation to FGM/C and it’s our intention to celebrate and recognise the tireless activism and engagement of women from the community, who are leading the way for the rest of us.’

Juliana Nkrumah AM, one of the guest speakers at the event, said that any effort to put an end to FGM/C should be motivated by the need to help women in affected communities speak for themselves.

‘It’s essential that we support women and girls by investing in awareness-raising as a way of increasing their decision-making power.  It’s the only way cultural change will come about.’