A great way to consult, learn and discover
Inviting women to a gathering, having a good conversation, listening and getting to know each other has proven a great way to engage, learn and have fun.
Over 100 women recently attended the annual “Hear our voices” women’s gathering which encourages women to develop their own groups, support each other, express their views and share information about their cultures.
The Glenorchy City Council started organising the “Hear our voices” gatherings four years ago after being approached by the Hobart Women’s Shelter and Migrant Resource Centre for a way to bring women together to advocate for community and encourage the women to develop own groups to support on another.
Maha Abdo, the Chief Executive Officer, of the United Muslims Women’s Association, travelled from Sydney to attend “Hear our voices”. After meeting Maha, local Muslim women decided to form a group. The MRC, Catholic Care, Glenorchy City Council and MCOT are supporting them with this process.
Although “Hear our voices” attracts over 100 women, the forum provides a safe space to discuss difficult issues such as family violence and women’s health – subjects the women sometimes cannot discuss in their own cultural group.
Glenorchy City Council’s Acting Manager Community and Customer Services, Jill Sleiters, said “Hear our voices” helped the women feel they have a voice, are being listened to and are part of the community.
“Information is given to the women about different low-cost community activities such as groups to join like walking groups that can help with emotional and mental health,” Jill said.
“Many of the women who attend feel quite isolated and appreciated meeting service providers, support services and women from other cultures,” she said.
The service providers attending the gathering valued the opportunity to learn about the women.
The gathering is kept informal so everyone is involved and part of the conversation. The service providers consider how to communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds, the need to work with bicultural workers and interpreters and ways to produce information.
“Common issues among the women are feelings of loss, leaving families and friends behind and friends and still feeling worried about family members who are unable to migrate,” Jill said.
Other subjects the women are interested in include legal matters, negotiating the legal framework, their rights as citizens and women, and parenting styles such as what is acceptable and normal in Australia while still retaining culture.
The Glenorchy City Council is developing a Multicultural Framework and would happily discuss how the “Hear our voices” framework could be applied in other Local Government areas.
“Hear our voices” received a Multicultural Grant from the Tasmanian Government.