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The government’s talking to migrant community leaders, but where are the women?

8 July 2020 at 5:33 pm
Maggie Coggan
Groups representing migrant women say it’s time the Victorian government listened to women when handling coronavirus

Maggie Coggan | 8 July 2020 at 5:33 pm


The government’s talking to migrant community leaders, but where are the women?
8 July 2020 at 5:33 pm

Groups representing migrant women say it’s time the Victorian government listened to women when handling coronavirus   

While the Victorian government is scrambling to engage multicultural community leaders on the COVID crisis, a number of women’s groups are calling for migrant women to be given a seat at the table, saying the vulnerable group has been completely overlooked. 

On Wednesday, the executive director for the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH), Adele Murdolo, said the pandemic had disproportionately impacted women from migrant and refugee backgrounds and their access to support services. 

Murdolo said the group had been hardest hit by job and income losses, while simultaneously taking on the lion’s share of responsibility for caring, housework and family support, and needed more support. 

“Throughout the crisis, the provision of multilingual information and support to migrant women has been manifestly inadequate,” she said. 

“They are at higher risk of family violence and social isolation, yet are less likely to have access to the information, support and services they need.” 

 The MCWH, supported by a coalition of 19 other women’s health and advocacy organisations, is now calling on the Victorian government to recognise the pivotal role migrant women play in multicultural leadership by working alongside migrant women and their representative organisations.

“It is time to listen to migrant women about their experiences and needs to ensure that they can access specific support throughout this crisis,” Murdolo said.

“Migrant women’s leadership is crucial to an effective, community-based, preventative response to the pandemic.”

She added that organisations that provided support services for migrant women needed more help so they could effectively reach out to women living in COVID hot-spots and high density public housing across Victoria. 

“There is a need for trained peer health educators to positively engage communities with tailored, accurate and multilingual information and support,” she said.  

“This type of support has never been more important.” 

The calls follow the Andrews government’s lock-down of nine public housing towers across Melbourne on Saturday night, which prohibited residents from leaving their homes for five days.

Many of the residents are from migrant and refugee backgrounds, and the handling of the lockdown has raised concerns around the lack of support for vulnerable communities. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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  • Jeya Ramanathan says:

    The voice of these women should be heard. I acknowledge the plight of migrant women. Most of them, do support government initiatives to control community spreading of COVID19. I feel they lack the support of the male members( chauvinism amongst migrant men is high) of their respective households. This gives rise to tension, resulting in increased domestic violence. Migrant men see themselves as “breadwinners” and therefore will not help in domestic work around the house. During lock downs, as these men’s movements are restricted, tensions build up at the home front. Thus already exhausted women, become the brunt of abuse. Hear their plight, they will also bring solutions which the minister can address. However, I suspect, they might not be vocal at the table, fear of retribution when they return home. That is the sad reality.

  • Pamela Sutton-Legaud says:

    Perhaps we can encourage women of diverse backgrounds to stand in the upcoming local elections in October. There are some very useful resources available and more women in general are encourage to stand.

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