Forum summary report: What does the Royal Commission into Family Violence mean for Multicultural Communities?


MCWH hosted a forum on May 10th, 2016 titled: ‘What does the Royal Commission into Family Violence mean for Multicultural Communities?’  The forum aimed to facilitate discussion about the RCFV’s findings and recommendations specifically as they relate to CALD women

Please find the summary report from the forum which gives an overview of key points of discussion.

NETFA Forum 2016


This month we had the good fortune of spending a day surrounded by a group of amazing women who know a great deal about women’s rights, health and female circumcision. On International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting, MCWH’s NETFA Forum brought together people from across Australia to consider some key questions and talk about how communities and Australian state and federal governments are progressing with this important women’s health issue.

Discussion started with an overview of the international context, noting that activism around female circumcision, mostly led by women, has taken place for many years across the world. We have much to learn from the past and the guidance of activist groups like the NAFIS Network who show us how best practice has been implemented on the ground.

International best practice requires us to ask who is around the table when we talk about female circumcision. There was a clear consensus at the forum that women from practising communities should be prominently represented around the decision-making table, and their strong, clear, informed voices must be heard nationally and internationally.

Panel discussion covered the complex questions of legislation and data, noting that while legislation is crucial, it can lead to stigmatisation and discrimination in countries of migration. As the recent NSW case has shown, comprehensive and broad reaching community education must be available to all members of practising communities, for effective cultural change to take place.

Research too is a problematic beast, sometimes masking as much as it reveals, so data, research and evidence must be collected, analysed and used with sophistication and wisdom. A recent report indicated that worldwide, the number of circumcised girls and women is 70 million higher than previously thought. However, the increase does not mean the practice is growing: rather, it reflects that Indonesia now reports nationally representative data.

A strong message throughout the forum related to the appropriate use of terminology.  In Australia and internationally the term ‘mutilation’ is used in legislation and policy to reinforce the gravity of this gender-based human rights violation. However, forum participants strongly suggested that the term, ‘mutilation’ can be denigrating and harmful to women and may not accurately convey the different ways women view the practice, let alone the many words in a range of languages that signify cutting practices. Participants suggested that we use terminology appropriate to the context, which might include using different terminology at different times.

MCWH is honoured to have been part of this important national conversation, bringing together national experts and taking a woman-led and respectful approach to complex debate. The symposium proceedings will be published and available soon on the NETFA website.

(L-R) Ms Juliana Nkrumah AM, Ms Maria Osman, Dr Carol Kaplanian

(L-R) Ms Juliana Nkrumah AM, Ms Maria Osman, Dr Carol Kaplanian

Ms Maria Osman, Ms Linda George, Dr Virginia Dods, Mmaskepe Sejoe

Ms Maria Osman, Ms Linda George, Dr Virginia Dods, Mmaskepe Sejoe

AMES Student Retreat 2015


This is a second year in a row that MCWH multilingual health education program was part of the annual AMES female students’ retreat in Mt Eliza YMCA campsite. Over 100 women – English language students from all over Victoria- gathered at this serene location to stay for three days of fun and empowerment through various activities, sharing information, learning how to stay healthy and safe and navigating the Australian health system.



Health Education Program Manager Amira Rahmanovic said, “It was wonderful to see this kaleidoscope of different colours! Hearing the music and melodies of all different languages and dialects melt together in very powerful, bonding activities that appreciated our differences and valued them as the best gift this country of ours has!

Our educators Elizabeth and Manasi did a great job facilitating four workshops back to back with four groups of women who wanted to find out as much as they could at this event. It was delightful to see the participants light up with joy in finding out answers and learning about such important aspects of our life, health and well-being, in such a safe, women only, relaxed and respectful environment.


We would also like to acknowledge and thank our fantastic sponsors who gave us unprecedented donations for participant goody-bags this year and a big hats off to Carmela Ieracitano for taking the lead on and achieving this!


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We are looking forward to meeting more wonderful women next year at the same place and same enjoyable, happy state!

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        New BV Logo            Grants Green LogoHRjpg       drbronners-logo-horiz_HR

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*We’d also like to ackowledge T2, Key Sun Pty Ltd, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate Palmolive


ASPIRE Project: Presenting at the Family Violence Has No Boundaries Conference

Our work on the ASPIRE ProjectAnalysing Safety and Place in Immigrant and Refugee Experience– led us to co-host a session at the Family Violence Has No Boundaries Conference, held at Melbourne Law School. Our BHE educator Manasi presented with Dr Cathy Vaughan (Melbourne School of Population and Health) on a session entitled: Promoting community-led responses to violence against immigrant and refugee women.

Find out more about the ASPIRE project here.




Celebrating International Women’s Week

Emerging from the activism of immigrant and refugee women workers, International Women’s Day has become a special day for women around the world. This year, MCWH has joined with all the Victorian Women’s Health services to celebrate the entire week by tweeting on the @WePublicHealth account, managed by Melissa Sweet of Croakey fame.

More locally, MCWH Executive Director, Adele Murdolo will also be sharing how badly behaved women became her inspiration, speaking at an event hosted by Shantiworks at Borderlands Cooperative in Hawthorn, along with Jax Jacki Brown and Shantiworks director, Tracey Castelino.

See the flyer below for details:


Shantiworks IWD 2015


Our bilingual health educator receives prestigious Heart Foundation award

Elizabeth, Catusica, Amira

Last night members of MCWH were privileged to attend the Second Heart Foundation Awards Dinner in Melbourne, to celebrate the outstanding acheivements of one of our bilingual health educators.

Elizabeth Mazeyko is one of only three recipients of the prestigious President’s Award, recognising her passion and inspirational work as a Spanish speaking health educator for women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. Other individuals were recognised and awarded for their outstanding contribution to heart-related research and their outstanding support of the Heart Foundation.

The President’s award recognises Elizabeth’s significant contribution to improving women’s heart health in Victoria, made possible in particular through the partnership project between the Heart Foundation and Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Healthy Hearts. The project exceeded expectations, delivering heart health messages in nine different languages to immigrant and refugee women and men across Victoria, and has cemented the partnership between the Heart Foundation and MCWH in delivering effective health education to immigrant and refugee women.

In her acceptance speech, Elizabeth perfectly stated the importance of the work we do at MCWH, saying: “unfortunately heart disease doesn’t discriminate between language, race or culture. In many communities, men and women don’t believe that high blood pressure or high cholesterol is already cardiovascular disease. I make sure that they understand that important message.”

Elizabeth also graciously acknowledged the support of MCWH and Catuscia Biuso from the Heart Foundation, who has been a tireless advocate for our work and central in developing our strong partnership.

Elizabeth promised she would ‘only get better at my work so that you can see me here, hopefully for a different award next time’.  Then around 330 guests rose from their seats to learn Elizabeth’s heart-health themed adaptation of the Macarena dance – demonstrating her gift for using humour to connect so powerfully with people.

“Every time I walk into a group, my aim is to ensure that everyone understands the factors surrounding cardiovascular disease. We all know that heart disease kills 31 Australian women per day, and someone dies every 24 minutes in Australia … It is during my sessions that I feel that educating people about Heart Health is making a difference in people’s lives and that gives me my greatest reward day after day.”

MCWH is extremely proud of Elizabeth’s achievement and is grateful for the commitment and compassion she brings to her work and to our lives.


You can read about some of the excellent outcomes of our partnership with the Heart Foundation in the report, For All Hearts.