60 Seconds with Doseda Hetherington

Profile DosedaWomen’s health worker and gender equality advocate

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I’ve recently been inspired by a documentary on living minimally – it really resonated with me and I’ve since been slowing getting rid of the stuff in my life that I no longer use or need. It’s such a great feeling to be able to let go of things, because at the end of the day they are just things.

What is the best thing that has happened to you today?
Feeling part of an inclusive workplace – enjoying the company of my beautiful work colleagues.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
Gender equality, of course.

What talent would you most like to possess?
I would love to have the talent to end gender-based violence.

What is the best part of your day?
Seeing my kids when I pick them up from school – I always miss their little faces

What do you most value in your friends? 
In my friends I value our differences – everyone is different and we can learn so much from each other. I also value their time, because time is so precious!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be? Or what has been the biggest challenge of living in Australia so far?
When I arrived in Australia 30 years ago (our family moved from New Zealand, and previous to that we were refugees from Cambodia), what I found the most challenging thing to deal with was the racism that I encountered. Being a young girl, it was really hard to understand why people felt hatred, purely based on the way I looked. The one piece of advice I would give to someone new to Australia is reach out to people in your community. If you’re doing an English language class – make sure you do things outside of class together.

Can you describe a time where you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant and refugee background?
I distinctly remember when I was about 12 walking to the shops with my older sister and being racially abused by about five men from a van. I remember them shouting out disgusting things to us and fearing for our safety. We got home and I just burst out crying.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background?
Over the years, I’ve really learned to love who I am and the differences I bring to people around me. In my previous role as a media adviser, I was fortunate enough to work with refugee and migrant students – one moment that stood out for me was when I met with a young Cambodian student, who said she was really inspired by what I had achieved as someone from a refugee background. I later learned that she became an ambassador for migrant students, which was so awesome to hear!

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
Definitely my mum. I baffles me to this day how she and my dad could escape a war-torn country by foot, pregnant with two young children. She has instilled strong values in all of her three children, prioritising our health and safety, but also ensuring that we had an education.

Name a book or a film that changed your life.
I’m currently reading ‘First They Killed My Father’, a book based on a five-year old’s account of her time in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge. As I read the book, it’s so hard for me to imagine the horrific experiences people had to suffer through. I was only a baby when we were sponsored to go to New Zealand, so I consider myself extremely lucky to have grown up in countries where there was no war.

What does multiculturalism mean to you?
To me, multiculturalism means embracing different cultures and having the opportunity to learn more about cultures that are not your own. It means recognising the benefits of a society that is inclusive.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
People are scared of the unknown. It would be so great if people could just take the time to understand and learn more about people and cultures before they judge.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would you like to tell him?
Stop taxing tampons

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because….
In 2017, women and men should have equal rights, full stop.

In Brief

Networking nightWe hosted our first networking night at the MCWH office in Collingwood on the 25th May and it was a great success!
Read more about the knowledge we shared and what you can expect next time!

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Delegate visitOn April 7th, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health  warmly welcomed 19 Australian and international delegates into our Collingwood office for a field visit during the World Congress on Public Health.

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Netfa forum 2017The third NETFA forum Foundations for Change was held in Melbourne on the 24th March.Over 70 people attended to
discuss women’s rights, health and prevention of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C).

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Keeping busy

Health Education Program (HEP)

MCWH Multilingual Health Education Programs have been delivering important health information to women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds since 1978. Programs are conducted in industry and community settings by highly trained and qualified Bilingual Health Educators, from an immigrant or refugee background. These programs are uniquely successful because health information is provided in:

  • the preferred language of the women attending the program;
  • location and at times that are most convenient for women; and
  • ways which respect women’s experiences and knowledge and understand their cultural context.

This woman-to-woman approach is our peer education model, and is based on the belief that sharing health information and experiences is the best way to increase women’s health knowledge and wellbeing.

A highlight  this year has been working with Nestle to bring health education into places of work, and with AMES Australia and Melbourne Polytechnic to conduct sessions in places where women learn. Find out more about our Health Education Programs.

Grant updates

We are so pleased to announce that we have recently been successful in our funding application to the Victorian Government to deliver a violence prevention project in partnership with Southern Cross Care Victoria. We look forward to commencing the project on July 1st, 2017.

Board news

We warmly welcome two new board members: Catherine Ross and Tamara Kwarteng. Catherine comes from a philanthropic background and is passionate about grassroots community and generosity. A fundraiser for over 15 years, she studied International Politics and Development at the University of Melbourne (2012) and is now proudly Fundraising Manager for The Reach Foundation. Joining the MCWH Board in May 2017, Catherine is focused on sustainability and creating awareness for the valuable programs and community created for women by women.

Tamara comes to MCWH with an extensive background in public health, having had experience overseeing and leading numerous HIV & AIDS programs in Australia, Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Since January 2010, Dr Kwarteng has been an independent consultant providing technical advice in public health program design, monitoring, and evaluation.We warmly welcome her experience in organisational capacity-building, applied research, policy analysis and development, and training and education programs.

Around the office



We farewell our National Training Officer, Maria Hach. Maria joined MCWH in 2011 as a Health Promotion and Project Officer before beginning her training role in 2012. During her time at MCWH, Maria developed and implemented the nationally accredited Bilingual Health Education Program. She was also responsible for various projects, including the Common Threads Sexual and Reproductive Health Research Report and Best Practice Guide  and Culturally Responsive Palliative Care Community Education Project. Maria leaves us for a good reason – she is completing a PhD thesis in Cultural and Gender Studies, which explores inter-generational trauma and affectivity of historical violence among Cambodian-Australian women. All the best Maria!


We also farewell Zubaidah Shaburdin, our NETFA Project Officer. NETFA achieved many milestones in its three year period, not least of which were the annual NETFA forums. Read more about the highlights of the 2017 forum in the link above. You can also access an array of resources in English and many other languages, plus the National Education Toolkit on the NETFA website. 

Rosi Wedding_small

We warmly congratulate our Project Officer Rosi Aryal-Lees, for her recent Nepali-Australian nuptials to now husband Steven Lees. As per Nepali tradition, a priest guided the couple through the ritual steps of worshipping Ganesh and the nine planets, exchanging rings, repeating seven sacred vows and sharing a short peace meditation with guests. A delight to witness for the 150 guests who had travelled from all over the country and the world to celebrate this truly memorable and special day.