Sexual and Reproductive Health Data Report

This national data report summarises the latest available data across a range of areas that impact on the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of immigrant and refugee women. The data in this report has been obtained from a variety of sources ranging from national, population based studies to small community-based studies. As a national report, ideally all data reported would be population-based. However, where national, disaggregated data sets are not available, state and territory based research has been used. Where Australian data or research is not available, international research is used. Community-based-studies have also been included to highlight the issues relating to immigrant and refugee women’s health.

You can read the report here. 

The WRAP #44: Feeling at home in the birthing suite, embracing hysteria and 60 seconds with Ozana Bozic

We’re officially over the mid-year hurdle and just like the Olympians, we’re warming up for the many exciting events we have planned for the second half of 2016.

In this month’s WRAP we look at the importance of providing bilingual labour companions for immigrant and refugee women during childbirth.  Findings from our Bilingual Labour Companion Project show that bilingual labour companions meet a need for culturally responsive support that extends beyond language and culture.

We also join in the animated media discussion following Steve Price’s “hysterical” comment on Q & A and harness it as a positive force for creating a just society.

Lastly, we have 60 seconds with our office superwoman, Administration Finance Officer Ozana Bozic (we’d seriously be lost without her!).

Until next time,
The WRAP team

Feeling at home in the birthing suite

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There’s a reason why giving birth is also referred to as ‘being in labour’. Going into labour is a bit like entering a lifetime labour contract for 24/7 parenting with no leave entitlements or remuneration – a labour of love from whichever way you choose to look at it. We’ve mentioned before, one way we can uphold women’s ‘labour rights’ from the outset is through the provision of bilingual labour companions for immigrant and refugee women.

Research shows that immigrant and refugee woman want from maternity care the same things as non-immigrant women: safe, high-quality, attentive and individualised care. However, given the challenges with communication and an unfamiliar health system, it’s not surprising that immigrant women are also less positive about the care they receive and less likely to feel involved in decisions in their maternity care. In some cases, women have reported experiences of discrimination and prejudice.

Imagine giving birth for the first time. Imagine giving birth without your partner or preferred loved one beside you, or going into labour not being able to communicate with the hospital staff. These are just some of the issues that immigrant women face, especially those who are newly arrived and who have few social supports. On top of managing the excruciating pain, it can just be plain daunting having to deal with anything and everything else (did we mention the excruciating pain?). This is where a bilingual labour companion can play an important role in making women feel at home in the birthing suite.

In interviews conducted with women who had been supported by a bilingual labour companion, women spoke about this feeling of ‘home’:

‘Having the labour companion was very helpful and supportive. Her words were soothing, and eased the labour pain for me. I had a very similar feeling, when I had my mother with me during the first delivery. She was like a mother.’

‘The labour companion was very helpful and supportive. I was happy. She made me feel at home, as if I was among my family back home, and not alienated…she has done me a favour that I will never forget.’

‘I thought what a wonderful idea…to support immigrant women at the time of labour when the mother is usually missing her family, her homeland, language and feels like a stranger in another world.’

The women were part of a project partnership MCWH conducted with the Judith Lumley Centre, Latrobe University, which matched immigrant and refugee women giving birth at the Royal Women’s Hospital with bilingual labour companions. It was clear that not only did the labour companions provide much-needed language and practical support, they also relieved women of the burden of feeling alone.

We shouldn’t forget that giving birth is an intense and intimate experience and for immigrant women who already feel socially isolated or alienated from the broader Australian community, a bilingual labour companion can help bridge the gaps between coping in labour and coping in a new country.

If you would like to know more about the outcomes of the Bilingual Labour Companion Project, please contact Dr Regina Quiazon, Senior Research and Policy Advocate

Embracing hysteria

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The ovaries, along with their BFF, the uterus, have received some well-deserved media attention this month. Here at MCWH, as far as media coverage of body parts go, this was a welcome reprieve from those sports columns that regularly report on the already well-reported groin.

For anyone who missed it, journalist Van Badham and radio commentator Steve Price, both guests on Q & A, responded to a question from audience member Tarang Chawla about the links between misogynist humour and violence against women. In the course of the discussion, in which Steve Price’s characteristic response (for the uninitiated, just Google ‘mansplaining’) was met with Van Badham’s reasoning, understanding and actual facts, Price labelled Badham ‘hysterical’. A collective gasp was heard across the audience at Price’s pitiful choice of words, followed by laughter and applause at Badham’s quick-witted response, attributing her good sense to her ovaries.

Price’s intent was to put Badham down for her ‘hysteria’, but at MCWH we have a different view. We have found that lady parts can in fact take hold of a person’s emotions and thoughts and lead them to make intelligent, incisive comment on social issues. We are speaking metaphorically, rather than biologically of course: as we saw, Tarang Chawla’s considered question shows that one doesn’t need to be a current owner of a uterus to hold some admirably hysterical qualities. Interestingly, hysteria has been attributed in the past to anti-racist and LGBTI rights activism, as well as feminist advocacy.

So in the light of this most recent acknowledgement of the power of the womb and its ovarian side-kicks, we suggest that social justice activists fully embrace our hysteria, along with the passion, anger, tenaciousness, courage, persistence, love, caring and desire for a just society that seems to go along with that admirable condition. We pay homage to the hysterics who envisage positive change for marginalised people and who spend their days contributing to the achievement of a more socially just and equal world. If you’ve never considered yourself a hysteric before, but you’re wondering if the time is right to join the movement, we say yes! There has never been a better time to ‘grow a pair’.

60 seconds with Ozana Bozic

Photo by Mila Robes

MCWH Finance and Admin Officer and aspiring biographer

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Reading. I’m usually busy with work, studying and family commitments but I always like to read. A friend suggested the four-series Neapolitan novels of Elena Ferrante and I haven’t been able to put them down since I started reading the first book.

What is the best thing that happened to you today?
I woke up in nice warm house, in a peaceful country, my family safe and sound – not just the best thing, but also a blessing.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
To be able to provide peace and health to everyone.  Both are easily taken for granted when you have both and it’s easy to forget just how important they are for everyone, and not just for one section of the community or certain parts of the world.

What talent would you most like to possess?
Writing. I’d love to be able to write-up as many stories about women’s lives as I can!

What is your best quality or attribute?
Patience and resilience.  I’ve found them very useful at various times in my life.

What is the best part of your day?
Definitely the morning: a time of promise of all the good things to come on the day.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Having escaped a war and experiencing first-hand the impacts of human rights violations on a global scale, I would want to be an international human rights lawyer.

What do you most value in your friends?
Ethics and moral principles.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
Embrace the experience and enjoy new things.

What’s your favourite word in the English language? Why?
It’s not a word, but the phrase ‘give it a go’, because it encompasses taking opportunities, and it also conveys the trying, adjusting and persisting as well.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
Keeping positive even when it isn’t all smooth sailing.  There have been many migrants before us who have experienced settlement, employment and all sorts of other issues that have come our way.

Can you describe a time when you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant or refugee background?
When people speak to me differently because I speak English with an accent.  On one occasion when I was looking through houses with my daughter, the real estate agent began apologising to me profusely and I had no idea why.  I later found out from my daughter that she had told off the agent for speaking to me like a child just because I spoke with an accent and she told him that I was, in fact, an intelligent person.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant/refugee background?
Being part of two cultures and embracing both.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
I don’t even know where to start…my mother, my daughters, my colleagues, so many positive influences in my life. This is the tapestry of sisterhood: learning from one another and supporting each other.

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.