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It’s time to listen to migrant women

Dr Adele Murdolo

July 8, 2020

This blog is from a statement on 6 July by Adele Murdolo, Executive Director, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, a CPOW industry collaborator

Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health is extremely concerned about the health and wellbeing of migrant communities, particularly migrant women in the 11 ‘hot zone’ suburbs under Stage 3 restrictions, and public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne under lockdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected migrant women and their access to support services. They have been hardest hit by job and income losses, while taking on the lion’s share of responsibility for caring, housework and family support. 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.

Throughout the crisis, the provision of multilingual information and support to migrant women has been manifestly inadequate. MCWH has strongly advocated for migrant women’s leadership in the prevention of COVID-19 transmissions. There is a need for trained peer health educators to positively engage communities with tailored, accurate and multilingual information and support. This type of support has never been more important.

While the Victorian government has engaged multicultural community leaders over the last month, women community leaders have been overlooked. It is time to listen to migrant women about their experiences and needs to ensure that they can access specific support throughout this crisis. Migrant women’s leadership is crucial to an effective, community-based, preventative response to the pandemic.

We are calling on the Victorian Government to meet with, and listen to, migrant women and their representative organisations, and to recognise their central role in multicultural community leadership. Migrant women’s organisations should be supported to reach out to migrant women who live in the designated ‘hot zones’ and high-density public housing across Victoria with multilingual information, support and services and to play a central role in strengthening the community response to COVID-19.

Many thanks to Adele Murdolo for permission to reproduce the MCWH statement here. Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health is an important community-based, not-for-profit organisation led by and for women from migrant and refugee backgrounds. MCWH is asking organisations and individuals to endorse the statement. If you wish to do so please email Mi Nguyen at mi@mcwh.com.au.

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