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Australian Bosnian Women's Cultural Association (ABWCA) Leadership Project
Report 2004-2005

President: Behka Custovic


The Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association auspices “ABWCA: Women’s Leadership Project” funded for one year by the NSW Premier’s Department – Office for Women. ABWCA being a newly-established women’s organisation owes much more to the IWSA than for the one project auspice. We are getting support and help from IWSA on a daily basis for running the association.

Australian Bosnian Women’s Cultural Association Inc. (ABWCA) was established as a community response to social and cultural needs of women from Bosnian and Herzegovinian background, residing in Sydney. Mainly due to the war-refugee history, this ethnic group is facing difficulties in resettlement, as has been indicated in a vast community survey, interviews, reports and case stories, conducted for the purpose of a postgraduate course in Social Science at University of Western Sydney.

A group of enthusiastic women, on a voluntary basis, has undertaken activities for community capacity- building in the Bosnian Community. A result of their great commitment to women, children and family issues, they developed a range of projects and programs, which aim to have women come together to share mutual interests, to be empowered by information, knowledge and skills and to take a more proactive role in their lives, families, community and broader society.

The project has been designed as a holistic innovative because findings show that only such an approach can get the best results. Below outline the various activities to implement our objectives:

¨ Establishing a Drop-in Centre for women in Liverpool in a location close to train and bus stations, where they can come, meet their friends and have a good time communicating and sharing ideas, information, and concerns.
¨ Organising a broad range of workshops and information sessions on the topics with highest women’s interests.
¨ Education and information session for the whole family.
¨ Play groups for children (aged 0-5) and their parents.
¨ Family support and domestic violence issues
¨ Home visiting for elderly women who live alone or are isolated
¨ Organising cultural and social events and gatherings at the Bosnian Centre in Leppington
¨ Craft, art and cooking classes, English language and computer classes, relaxation classes and fun games
We have established partnership and cooperation from a broad range of government and non-government to implement our activities and the following are our major partners:

¨ Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association has been with us from the beginning: as a supporter, resource, advisor and as auspice for our “ABWCA: Women’s Leadership Project”, funded by NSW Premiers Department – Office for Women
¨ Liverpool City Council with whom we had worked on the establishment of our Drop- in Centre in Liverpool. Liverpool City Council has donated 5 computers to us for our Center – with the aim to establish an Internet Café, where women can come and learn and exercise basic computer and internet skills on a daily basis
¨ Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre with whom we work in partnership to facilitate the Bosnian Playgroup for children (0-5 years old)
¨ Mainstream community service providers in the Auburn, Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool Local Government Areas and other areas with whom we work to run workshops, seminars and rehearsals
¨ City Councils and Migrant resource Centers in other LGAs where majority of Bosnian population resides
¨ Numerous women’s support groups, organizations and forums
¨ Education and health institutions, various funding providers, state and federal departments, etc.

We would like to mention that we have made initiatives for the development of partnership and friendship with other women’s groups from different ethnic backgrounds. As a result such a philosophy, ABWCA initiated establishment of Multicultural Women’s Network at the Community Relations Commission Symposium in June 2005. Commitment for implementation of ideas of cultural harmony is strongly incorporated in our activities.

ABWCA is a member of the Immigrant women’s Speakout Association, Australian Women’s Coalition, CALD Women’s Network, numerous forums, interagencies and networks.

Finally, we would like to emphasize the significance of the role of Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association in the establishment and development of our women’s association. As a peak body for immigrant and refugee women, IWSA is the right place where we can come and ask for any sort of valuable advices, regarding the organisational structure of the association, policy development, projects creation and implementation. IWSA auspices our Women’s Leadership Project – which aims to identify potential women leaders in Sydney’s Bosnian community, organisation of training classes for development of leadership skills and establishment of women’s self-help social support groups in three LGAs: Auburn, Fairfield and Liverpool. The project is a great challenge for such a new women’s association. With the guidance, support and help we are getting from IWSA, we feel more confident about the project’s success.

We are pleased to take this opportunity to express our great appreciation to the Jane Corpuz-Brock, Executive Officer of IWSA, Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis, Chairperson-IWSA, all MC Members of IWSA, Mitra Khaleghian, Community Development Worker-IWSA, Camille Moldrich, IWSA Accountant and Emina Kovac, Admin Worker - IWSA, for all their support and readiness to help us at any time we have asked for it. Members of Management Committee of ABWCA: - Behka Custovic, President - Aida Sahinovic, Vice-President - Nihada Alemic, Secretary - Alina Bilal, Treasurer - Merdada Karahasan, Member, In-charge for Culture and Language - Nadia Fazlic, Member, In-charge for Art Project - Dr Sanela Redzepagic, Member, In-charge for Health