The gifts that love won for 2018

Image/ Eldeise 'Equal Love Rally: What it means to me' @ LOTL

Image/ Eldeise ‘Equal Love Rally: What it means to me’ @ LOTL

Here at MCWH we’re not usually excited by celebrity weddings. It’s often difficult to connect with “who is marrying who” in the faraway worlds of movie stars or royals.

But hearing about the first same sex marriages taking place in Australia, at MCWH we can’t help but be excited. These joyous occasions have been so hard-won. They are long-awaited expressions of peoples’ love and happiness together, and a public and shared opportunity for friends and family to witness their loved ones exercise their equal rights to marriage. As the slogan proudly states, ‘Love Won’, and now we can soak up the pleasure of seeing love celebrated without discrimination.

In the fog of joy and excitement, let’s not forget that it’s been a tiring and difficult battle against an inequality that began almost fourteen years ago. It was only in 2004 that the Marriage Act was amended specifically to discriminate against same-sex relationships. Passing the bill to legalise same-sex marriage has not destroyed a long-held tradition, but has reversed the introduction of a very recent act of political discrimination.

There has been harm done along the way. The postal survey was traumatising for many, and the process of having the community judge whether LGBTIQ people are worthy of equal rights was demeaning. Moreover, once the announcement was made and the result was a resounding yes, the recriminations which identified migrants as the culprits behind the no vote in some electorates was inaccurate and divisive and did little more than feed into racist stereotypes of migrant communities. For LGBTIQ people who belong to migrant and refugee communities, that news angle, after such a happy and unifying result, was isolating and demoralising.

We’re so happy to see that as we farewell 2017 we are leaving behind a significant form of discrimination against LGBTIQ people. As for 2018, we are pleased to take some wonderful gifts with us into the new year so that we can apply them to our work in dismantling discrimination and injustice in other realms.

Our first gift is wisdom: we have learned that despite the positive result, the effect of putting a community’s rights up for public judgement can be harmful and creates long-lasting damage to a community’s trust and well-being.

Our second is civic engagement: we have loved seeing young people more politically engaged, enrolling to vote in unprecedented numbers, and beyond that, taking a lead on the issues that affect them and their communities. May their passion continue to lift community spirits.

Our third: we are grateful for the opportunity to bring love into politics. The public celebrations that took place across Australia, both inside and outside of Parliament House, were beautiful expressions of love across the barricades.

More of these gifts in our communities will definitely make 2018 worth coming back for. We’ll see you then.

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.

Leadership and recognition

Image via

Image via

Immigrant and refugee women make great leaders. We have come across so many amazing women over the years through our PACE (Participation, Advocacy, Community, Engagement) women’s leadership program. So many of these women have ‘what it takes’ to lead. However, a recent study by the Australian Human Rights Commission indicates that key leadership positions across business, government and tertiary education remain a tightly held bastion of Anglo-Celtic homogeneity.

Despite the fact that approximately 32% of the Australian population has a non-Anglo background, only 23.4% of business CEOS and a little under 20% of our Federal parliamentarians come from this group. Within the public service and universities, the leadership includes only 17% and 15% respectively of people from non-Anglo backgrounds. Federal cabinet fares even worse, with only 12%. When we break these figures down further, we note that representation of people from non-European backgrounds is dismal: only 5% of business leaders, 4% of federal parliamentarians and 1.6% of top public servants. None of our federal ministers or university vice chancellors are from non-European immigrant backgrounds.

The AHRC report makes a strong case for inclusion and equity in leadership, noting that the practice of redefining leadership and advancing diversity brings benefits to all. These are extremely important points to make, but it is disappointing that the report, while bringing visibility to the issue of inclusive leadership, does not sort the data by gender as well as cultural diversity, and therefore renders immigrant and refugee women invisible.

The report rightly states, “what gets measured gets done”. An intersectional approach to data collection, that records gender as well as cultural background in leadership, would mean that more would get done to build immigrant and refugee women’s leadership, not just that of men. We could develop a sharper analysis and therefore deliver more targeted and inclusive solutions. There is no reason why our work to bring about gender equality cannot complement and intersect with our work to build racial equality. Australia’s immigrant and refugee women have already displayed many leadership qualities in meeting the challenges of migration, we now need to provide opportunities for wide-spread and formal recognition of their leadership abilities.

Submission to the Victorian Gender Equality Strategy

MCWH is proud to share our submission to the Victorian Gender Equality Strategy, which was endorsed by eleven regional and state-wide women’s organisations including: Women’s Health In the North; Women’s Health in the Southeast; Women’s Health East; Women’s Health West; Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West; Women’s Health Grampians; Women’s Health Goulburn North East; Gippsland Women’s Health; Women’s Health Victoria; Women with Disabilities Victoria; and Positive Women Victoria.

We are also very pleased to endorse submissions made to the Strategy by these organisations.
Because MCWH is a national, community based organisation committed to the achievement of health and wellbeing for and by immigrant and refugee women, our submission focuses on the needs of immigrant and refugee women.

Click here to read the full submission, including our recommendations.