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Executive Officer Report 2003-2004

Executive Officer: Jane Corpuz-Brock

The Immigrant Women’s Speakout Associa- tion of New South Wales (IWSA) has joined other women’s groups and associations in organising women’s gatherings this year. These activities have included workshops, conferences, a human rights court, caravan, seminars and several working parties and interagencies. The aspiration in these actions is to move key women’s policies and programs forward in the next three to ten years.

We, at IWSA, continued to consult with our members and friends to keep their major concerns and hopes as the focus of all our work. We researched –

· The main needs of migrant and refugee CALD women not met by the government and non-government service providers,
· the main priority areas,
· the major groups that needed to be reached,
· the main foci and partnerships we must develop.

In the September 2003 consultation, eight areas of concerns were examined:

· domestic violence,
· childcare,
· employment,
· education,
· racism and prejudice,
· safety,
· isolation, and
· services for asylum seekers and TPV holders.

In that same consultation the participants agreed that the groups of women requiring priority focus are rural CALD women, and temporary protection visa holders. It has also been emphasised that Speakout has to consider providing services to new emerging CALD communities.

The need for information and referral is still a top priority for CALD women. Participants in the consultation recommended that Speakout provide a Hotline for CALD women.

Community development is the main area of service recommended by the consultation participants. It has also been recognised that Speakout has made a significant contribution to multicultural harmony and cultural diversity. In the current period, we continue to advocate and lobby for these issues. We also provide various services for CALD women and you will find details of these year’s outcomes on the proceeding project reports.

Campaign and lobby work on equity and access for CALD women occupied one of the core activities throughout this year. There were two issues that caused a negative impact on our service provision and, most of all, to CALD women: the de-funding of the Skilled Migrant Placement Project (SMPP) and the restructuring and downsizing of the Department for Women.

We joined the working party campaign on the SMPP convened by the New South Wales Council for Social Services (NCOSS). Our Management Committee through its press release called on the New South Wales government to show its commitment in valuing the contribution of migrants to the progress and growth of the Australian society. We were interviewed by SBS radio and some of our service recipients took this opportunity to make a plea for Premier Bob Carr to restore funding for the SMPP. Letters of Appeal have also been sent to the NSW government. Continuous lobbying of local Members of the NSW Parliament has urged them to put in place programs that will support newly arrived migrants in their search for employment and the necessary training, education and work experience they require.

On the other hand, we also campaigned and have lobbied for the Department for Women. We sent letters to our Premier Bob Carr to ensure that the restructure will not diminish the government’s work with women.

These two developments in government policies and programs posed a challenge to IWSA and to the community as a whole. There seemed to be a pattern of downsizing and de-funding of government programs that are essential channels for equity and access for the marginalised and most needy sector of our society. IWSA will continue to work on campaigning and lobbying for policies and programs that provide equity and access for CALD women.

While we have lost the SMPP, IWSA has received new funding for projects focused on providing services for CALD women and their families and community development in four local government areas (LGA): Auburn, Blacktown, Burwood and Parramatta. These projects are:

· Families First – Community Development for Families with 0-3 year old children in Auburn (funding from the Department of Community Services),
· CALD Women Getting Job in two LGAs of Burwood and Parramatta (one year only with funding from the Community Development Scheme Expenditure (CDSE) from the two councils),
· Multicultural Early Intervention Family Support Project for families with children from 0-14 year old in Blacktown (funding from the Early Intervention of the Department of Community Services); and
· NESB Women’s Multicultural Access Project (funding from the Western Sydney Area Assistance Scheme) for the LGAs of Auburn, Parramatta and Blacktown.

Through these new projects we endeavour to fulfil the key recommendations outlined in the last IWSA Consultation.

Throughout this year we worked hard to provide resources and support to agencies and organisations that deliver services for immigrant and refugee women. We have completed training for service providers in rural areas. These two trainings are “Cross Cultural Skills and Domestic Violence”, and “Domestic Violence Provision of the Migration Regulations”. There were also other forms of support such as auspicing projects for new organisations, writing support letters for funding submissions, advice on establishing new women’s organisations and holding group activities to support grassroots CALD women to raise their self-esteem and self-confidence.

This year has also been the time for women’s groups and organisations to review and consider the government’s implementation of three major arrangements and legislation:
· the United Nations Convention on the Elimination and Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW),
· the Beijing Platform of Action, and
· the Sex Discrimination Act.

We have been one of the major organisations that organised and prepared activities for the review.

While domestic violence, employment, training and education figure as major issues, at the core of CALD women’s continuing concerns are racism and discrimination. The working party that culled and wrote the recommendations for action brought these concerns at the Asia-Pacific Beijing + 10 Preparatory Meeting in Bangkok, where NGOs have considered all reports and recommendations. It is our hope that governments, especially the Australian government would take actions in realising these recommendations. We have to keep on knocking at the government’s door as we face the diminished responsibility taken by governments and their agencies in providing services for women.

IWSA had a rare opportunity to host a sharing between the Asian Women’s Human Rights Council and the various women’s organisations and service providers in reflecting current trends on women’s situation in the Asia-Pacific region. All participants agreed that the sharing was important because it helped many service providers present to gain a little more knowledge on the situation of the countries of origin of their service recipients. Most participants hoped to have more sharing activities like this.

At this point we wish to thank our partner organisations in undertaking this year’s activities especially our members, contacts and network; and our funding partners: the Department of Community Services (DoCS), Casino Community Benefit Fund, the Parramatta City Council (CDSE and WSAAS), the Burwood City Council (CDSE), the Blacktown City Council (WSAAS), the Auburn City Council (WSAAS) and the Department for Education and Training.

We convey our gratitude to all our
· Management Committee members whose commitment and hard work continue to bear fruit for CALD women;
· Staff members who labour with dedication to provide services and achieve outcomes for our projects;
· Volunteers and students in placement who are sources of support and insights: Selina Rebel, Ana Silva, Cicek Ceper, Nubia Quiazua, Ann Knowles, Rio Leal, Carmen Pueyes and Amelia Galao
· CPOs (Community Program Officers) and funding bodies:
John Fonseca, Amrit Versha and Patricia Darvall, CPOs-Department of Community Services, Marilyn Fischer, CPO-Families First, Robert Hanns, Casino Community Benefit Fund, Renee Rehbein, Sudha Ramdev and Ewa Kozlowska of Department of Education and Training.

We welcome our new staff members:
· Fatema Hasan, Project Officer for Families First in Auburn;
· Viji Sathkunanantan, Admin Assistant (Casual);
· Rajni Chandran, DV Project Officer;
· Chandrika Subramaniyan, Caseworker for the Multicultural Early Intervention Family Support Service in Blacktown;
· Breda Dee, Project Officer, DV Team; and
· Soraia Rocha e Sousa, Caseworker for the Multicultural Early Intervention Family Support Service in Blacktown.

We also farewelled some staff members: Preeya Prasad, Skilled Migrant Placement Project Officer, Zulekha Nazir, Project Officer for the Family Support Project in Blacktown and Fairfield, Tracy Wu, SMPO, Violeta Craney, Project Officer in the DV Team, Tania Periera, Kyungja Jung, Shalini Kumari (all Project Officers in the DV Team). IWSA thank all of you for your contribution zeal, enthusiasm and hard work.