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28 February 2007

Immigrant and refugee women at risk of falling into poverty trap

The Immigrant Women's Speakout Association NSW Inc (IWSA) in its 25th Founding Anniversary Policy Forum "Politics of speaking out - myths and reality" is, once again, urging the State and Federal governments to support the skilled migrants and refugees through a faster and cost effective process of recognition of the qualifications, training and work experience they bring to Australia.

"Many newly-arrived CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) women who come to IWSA for assistance find it hard to obtain jobs relevant to their qualifications and experience earned overseas, due to non-recognition of such qualifications and experience by Australian employers", said Jane Corpuz-Brock, IWSA Executive Officer.

Ms Corpuz-Brock added that one of the CALD women, whom they had assisted, has a degree in Accounting and 8 years of experience working with government agencies in her country of origin. Despite of the fact that there are many job opportunities for accounting clerks and bookkeepers, she was not able to obtain employment based on her field of education and training. "Thus, many newly-arrived and highly skilled CALD women end up as cleaners and housekeepers at hotels and houses of wealthy people in New South Wales".

As a consequence of July 2006 changes to the Industrial Relations legislation, the wages of women who work in the retail and hospitality sectors have deteriorated in the past 10 months as was indicated by Professor David Peetz of the Griffith Business School [Sydney Morning Herald, 14/2/07]). " Interviews conducted by IWSA with CALD women working as housekeepers at hotels in Sydney confirmed this. Hotel workers estimate that most cleaners in hotels are CALD women." Ms Corpuz-Brock added.

Immigrant Women's Speakout Association calls on the State and Federal governments to put in place policies and programs that assist immigrants and refugees, in particular CALD women, in gaining employment and in preventing them from getting trapped in the cycle of poverty. One way of achieving this is by Governments providing incentives to workplaces for employing immigrant and refugee women.

The 25th Founding Anniversary of the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association will have Ms Tanya Plibersek, Federal MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services, Housing, Youth and Women as Keynote Speaker and Ms Lee Lin Chin, Newsreader at SBS-TV as Master of Ceremony.

Jane Corpuz-Brock, Executive Officer-IWSA
Phone: (02) 9635 8022
Mobile: 0410 453 459

2 November 2006

Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW and Pacific Island Women's Advisory and Support Services

STRONG FAMILIES, Addressing Family Violence Issues in Pacific Communities


As Pacific communities, we often find our strength in times of celebration and times of challenge come from our spiritual connection and our families.

However, what is happening with the most vulnerable in our families…women and children? Juvenile justice statistics, high-school performance rates, under representation in tertiary education, Pacific community members, leaders and Pacific community workers all indicate that many of our women and children are suffering in Australian society because families are unable to cope with these challenges. The skills and knowledge that kept us strong back home, need adjusting to make the most of the opportunities available in Australia and to overcome the differing challenges that we face.

It has been found that one of the ways some families deal with problems and challenges, is through violence; hoping to find the solutions through fear and domination. When this occurs, it is the vulnerable and the most in need of protection that usually bears the consequences.

The 'Strong Families' project aims to raise awareness of the meaning of Domestic Violence (DV) or Family Violence and highlight the hurt and damage violence causes victims, families and the community as a whole. The 'Strong Families' project also hopes to offer assistance to victims (or family and friends of victims) by providing knowledge and awareness of services that can help them- in emergencies through the Police, Ambulance and DV Line; with ongoing guidance and support through the DV Line and Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW (IWSA) and through community information sessions delivered and supported by Pacific Island Women's Advisory and Support Service (PIWASS).

Strong families build strong communities. For a family to be strong, each and every member of the family needs to be respected, valued and safe.

For more information about the 'Strong Families' community information sessions please contact:
PIWASS- Phone: 9793 2200
For more information about Domestic Violence victim support and services please contact:
IWSA- Phone: 9635 8022

13 October 2004


Many immigrant and refugee women with children felt left out in the recent federal election. Domestic violence and child protection are issues that continually confront immigrant and refugee women with children. The Hon Carmel Tebbut, Minister for Community Services, Aged and Disability Services and Youth will be speaking at the official opening of the new premises of the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW. She will be addressing the issues of domestic violence and child protection.

Minister Tebbut will also launch the Multicultural Family Support Service focused on Early Intervention. This project will be implemented by the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW, which has received funding from the Department of Community Services (DoCS). This one-off, time limited funding for fifteen months is for a multicultural family support service for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families from new and emerging communities and families with TPV and refugee status living within the Blacktown Local Government Area who are experiencing or at high risk of domestic violence and /or child protection issues. The priority groups are vulnerable families who have children from 0-8 years old.

"Considering the depressing outcome of the recent federal election, Minister Tebbut's presence and address at the opening of the Immigrant Women's Speakout's new premises would be a refreshing breeze for those who will be present", said Ms Germanos-Koutsounadis, Chairperson of the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW.

The Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Councillor Julia Finn will also be present to launch The NESB (Non-English Speaking Background) Women's Multicultural Access Project. Through the Parramatta City Council, the Western Sydney Area Assistance Scheme provided this grant to Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW. The project will undertake community development activities to facilitate the building of a support network among NESB/CALD women and in particular those from new and emerging communities and those holding temporary protection visas.

Children from the Auburn Public School's Drumming Group, The Filipino Women's Seniors' Group and Indian Classical Dance Group are performing to mark the event.

EVENT: Official Opening of the new premises of the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW
DATE: Thursday, 14 October 2004
TIME: 2:00-5:00pm
LOCATION: 47 Albion St, Harris Park (near Parramatta train station)

For further information please contact:
Ms Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis (Chairperson) on 9569 1288 or
Jane Brock (Executive Officer) on 9635 8022 or 0414 854 258.

8 April 2004


The Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW, a peak body of migrant and refugee women is appalled at the NSW government's announcement yesterday to terminate the funding for the Skilled Migrant Placement Program (SMPP). Ms Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis, the Chairperson of the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association said that this action by the NSW government is counterproductive as it affects the most vulnerable people in our community.

"Cutting the program devalues the contribution of immigrant women and men in the Australian economy", she said.

For over 10 years the Skilled Migrant Placement Program has been implemented and funded by the New South Wales government through its Community and Adult Education Unit at the Department of Education and Training. The Immigrant Women's Speakout Association is one of the non-government, community organisations that has been receiving funding from this scheme since 1990.

The Speakout's SMPP is a Specialist service assisting migrant refugee women in obtaining Australian work experience, recognition of their overseas education and skills and eventually employment and participation in developing the Australian economy.

Last year alone the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association assisted 150 women in having their overseas qualifications and experience assessed and recognised. One of the Speakout clients interviewed in a survey conducted last year said:

"Dear Immigrant Women's Speakout SMPP staff, I am happy to tell you I have found a job! Thank you for all your support that you extended to me these past few months that I have known you."

The Immigrant Women's Speakout Association calls on both the New South Wales and Federal government to:

For more information please contact:
Ms Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis, Chairperson Phone: (02) 9569 1288 (Office) / After Office Hours: (02) 9529 4263



8 July 2003



Dear Mr Gyngell,

RE: "Russian Roulette" on 60 Minutes

We are writing on behalf of:

to protest against the sensationalist depiction of Russian women in the segment of 60 Minutes, "Russian Roulette", broadcast on Sunday, 11 May 2003.

All the above-mentioned peak bodies have extensive experience in assisting migrant and refugee women escaping and/or experiencing domestic violence (DV). We were appalled by the bias against migrant women accessing the Domestic Violence Provision (DVP) in the Migration Regulations, which was shown in the program.

The program looked at the cases of only 3 men and then implied:

1. That too many migrant women were granted Permanent Residency by abusing the Domestic Violence Provision
2. That the Domestic Violence Provision is extremely easy to access and suggested that there is a "loop hole" in the Australian Immigration Law.

In relation to the first point, the Domestic Violence Provision is not easy to access: a woman applying for permanent residency under the DVP needs to establish and provide evidence that the relationship was ongoing and genuine and that she was a victim of domestic violence. Acceptable evidence includes a final Apprehended Violence Order or statutory declarations by competent people.

In relation to the second point, we have recently obtained statistics from the Department of Immigration, which do not support the claim that the DVP is easy to access at all. According to DIMIA, in the year 2001/2002 there were 33,088 partner visa applications of which 473 were DVP applications. This means that the percentage of DVP applications within the total number of partner applications was only 1.4%. Furthermore, the Australian Bureau of Statistics research into Women's Safety Australia 1996, found that:

- in the previous 12 months 2.6% of women who were married or in a de facto relationship had experienced violence perpetrated by their current partner.

Given this reported incidence of DV in the Australian population one could expect that there should be nearly double the number of DVP applications than are currently lodged. Therefore what should concern us is how many migrant women are experiencing Domestic Violence and are not accessing the DVP.

This correlates very well with our collective experience that women from non-English speaking backgrounds find it very hard to escape domestic violence due to numerous barriers, including cultural issues, isolation in rural and remote locations, lack of English, lack of relevant information and financial issues. These difficulties may sometimes be exacerbated by prejudice against them if agencies and service providers hold a view that "they are only lying to get permanent residence". Furthermore, anecdotal experiences inform us that the women's children from previous relationships are often exposed to sexual assault by their mother's Australian resident/citizen partner. This is in addition to the abuse the women themselves experience in the relationship.

We are also very concerned at the sloppy journalistic standards applied to the segment of "Russian Roulette". According to the Australian Broadcast Authority Commercial Television Code of Practice news and current affairs programs should, amongst other criteria:
"Present factual material accurately and represent viewpoints fairly" 4.3.1 and "must not portray any person or group of persons in a negative light by placing gratuitous emphasis on age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin…" 4.3.10

We feel that "Russian Roulette" was an imbalanced and one-sided program that did not represent viewpoints fairly. In fact, only one woman was "interviewed", without prior notice and without interpreters. The manner in which this contact was conducted amounts to further intimidation and harassment of the woman. The reporter showed a total lack of understanding and sensitivity to the analysis of domestic violence and its impact on women and children. Nor were legal or domestic violence services approached to get their point of view on the Domestic Violence Provision. Therefore there was nothing in the program presenting the perspective of the Russian women, nor any analysis of the DVP and why it was introduced. The men's viewpoint was taken to be objective and the viewer was encouraged to think of the Domestic Violence Provision as a "loophole" in immigration law, rather than a necessary safeguard for migrant women trapped in domestic violence.

Thanks to this program, migrant women, and in particular Russian women, may now be stereotyped and may face increased barriers when escaping domestic violence. Immigrant Women's Speakout (NSW) and other services wrote to 60 Minutes (see attached) expressing our concerns, but there was no response.

As peak bodies for migrant and refugee women in Australia, we strongly urge you to consider a follow-up program, properly researched, showing the perspective of the women suffering violence and abuse at the hands of exploitative Australian men and exploring the value and context of the Domestic Violence Provision.

Yours sincerely


Soraya Kassim, Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW, on behalf of:
Annabelle Allimant, Senior Worker, Immigrant Women's Support Service
Milenka Vasekova - Safralidis, Manager, Migrant Women's Support & Accommodation Service Inc.
Sandie R. Beswarick, Executive Officer, Immigrant Women's Domestic Violence Service

Contact person: Monica Mazzone
DV Policy Officer Immigrant Women's Speakout
Ph: 96358022 E-mail dv_policy@speakout.org.au

Cc: The Executive Producer of Sixty Minutes




Dear Sir or Madam,

As the peak body in NSW representing immigrant and refugee women's issues, Immigrant Women's Speakout Association is shocked and disturbed by the sensationalist depiction of Russian women in the segment of 60 Minutes, "Russian Roulette", broadcast on Sunday, 11 May 2003.

For 15 years, Speakout has provided a direct casework service for migrant and refugee women experiencing or escaping domestic violence, in addition to our work in advocacy, community training, and monitoring and responding to policies and programs in the area of domestic violence.

Migrant women who try to escape domestic violence have to deal with many barriers, including cultural barriers, language, lack of knowledge about Australian law and services, financial issues, isolation, lack of support and the many forms of discrimination they face precisely because of the myth that they are "only out to get permanent residency".

Through our casework, we have found that the vast majority of these women are not aware of the existence of the Domestic Violence (DV) Provision in immigration law and they certainly did not set out from their country of origin with the intent to abuse it. On the contrary, they are often unaware of the DV Provision and too scared to leave their abusive partner because of fear of deportation.

Your program made no mention of these issues and focused exclusively on isolated, unrepresentative case studies of dubious accuracy.

The evaluation by the Department of Immigration (DIMIA) of the DV Provision in 1997 found no evidence of abuse of the system. According to DIMIA, in the period from July 1997 to June 1999, only 317 applications for permanent residence were decided under the DV Provision. This is in a context where every year about 20,000 spouse/fiancée applications (both for women and men) are processed by DIMIA. It is clear that the percentage of women accessing the DV provision is tiny. If anything we should be concerned by how many women do NOT in fact access the provision and remain with a violent partner.

Contrary to your claim, it is women who marry and migrate to Australia that are taking a gamble. They are leaving their family and community and sometimes good jobs too, to come to a new country, where they often do not speak the language and have no family nor support network to help them in case of trouble.

The Domestic Violence Provision allows people applying for permanent residence in Australia on the basis of a spouse or interdependent relationship to remain eligible for permanent residence after the breakdown of their relationship if they have experienced domestic violence. It was introduced in 1991 in response to community concerns that some spouses and partners might feel compelled to remain in abusive relationships to obtain permanent residence, rather than end the relationship and be forced to leave Australia.

The Domestic Violence Provision is not easy to access. A woman applying for permanent residency under the Provision needs to establish both that the relationship was ongoing and genuine and that she was a victim of domestic violence. Acceptable evidence includes a final Apprehended Violence Order and statutory declarations by competent people. Your program did not mention these facts. On the contrary, it at no time challenged the statements made by the men interviewed who claimed that residency was easily granted.

In our experience, NESB women escaping domestic violence only take out AVOs after they have exhausted all other options. Moreover, only a final AVO is valid for the purpose of the DV provision and it is our experience that perpetrators try to delay the process of a final AVO being granted as long as possible.

In addition, we note that when domestic violence occurs, women often do not disclose it due to the stigma and shame attached to it. This can result in women not having any person / service that may substantiate her experience of domestic violence.

In short, women already face a range of difficulties accessing the DV Provision, and the kind of misrepresentation that we have seen in 60 Minutes will only increase discriminatory practices against them.

We also note that while you had exhaustive and planned interviews with the men, the women were not given a chance to tell their story (arriving at somebody's front door with no notice and no interpreter does not count). Nor did you contact any services that work daily with migrant women in domestic violence situations to get their point of view. As we all know, domestic violence is about control and power. Undermining the value of the Domestic Violence Provision and denying women a voice in your program disempowers women, and plays into the hands of perpetrators. We strongly suggest that you redress the imbalance of your program with coverage which acknowledges the awful reality of domestic violence confronting many migrant women, and the courage and strength of those who escape this.

Yours sincerely,
Soraya Kassim

cc Media Watch, ABC TV
Australian Broadcasting Authority


18 April 2003

Download "KNOW YOUR RIGHTS GUIDE - facts & services for people on Temporary Protection Visa"


More than 4,000 temporary protection visa (TPV) holders in NSW will benefit from a new Resource Guide to be launched on 30 April.

"TPV holders are amongst the most vulnerable individuals in the state," said Soraya Kassim Chairperson of Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW.

"Denied access to most Government and Government-funded services, it is often difficult for community workers and others in the general community to help TPV holders find the assistance they need", she said.

And yet, TPV holders need settlement services more than any other new arrivals to the country, as they have commonly been victims of torture and trauma, are unable to sponsor their families to come to Australia, and, especially for Muslims, are the victims of the fear and hostility generated by international events.

To address this gap, Immigrant Women's Speakout Association, together with Smash Racism, have developed a referral manual, to be launched this month, detailing what services are available to TPV holders in NSW, as well as a 'know your rights' guide.

"Given the limited number of services working with TPV holders, it is essential that all community workers coming into contact with them are able to refer appropriately and give correct and up to date information about the assistance they can access," said Ms Kassim.

"Although TPV holders are barred from many services, they can receive some little forms of assistance and our referral manual is the most comprehensive resource outlining these services,' Ms Kassim said.

The TPV Know Your Rights Guide, produced with the assistance of the Refugee Advice and Casework Service and the UTS Community Law and Legal Research Centre, provides information on the rights and obligations of TPV holders, and will soon be translated into Farsi, Arabic and Tamil.

"The TPV know your rights guide was produced voluntarily by community activists, in response to the lack of free written information for temporary protection visa holders facing the expiry of their visa. The guide provides accurate legal information on TPV holders' rights and tips on how to make an application for further protection," said Vicki Sentas, spokesperson for Smash Racism.

In order to challenge negative stereotypes in the community about TPV holders, Speakout is also launching a bookmark that promotes a positive image of TPV women, where TPV stands for 'Togetherness, Perseverance and Vision', qualities that refugee women bring to this country.

Immigrant Women's Speakout Association is the peak body representing the ideas and issues of immigrant and refugee women in NSW. Smash Racism is an anti-racist network of individuals, which functions primarily as an information sharing space. Smash Racism also organises campaigns that aim to fight back against racism and promote the self-organisation of communities.

For further information, contact Jane Brock on 9635 8022/0414 854 258, or Soraya Kassim on 0413 013 690 (Speakout) or Vicki Sentas on 0414 906 830 (Smash Racism).

TPV Resource Guide Launch 30 April 2003
The House of Welcome, 140 Wattle St., Carramar


10 March 2003


Migrant and refugee women challenged the major parties last week to guarantee the rights of Muslim women, asylum seekers and groups made vulnerable in this climate of fear and looming conflict.

In a pre-election forum held on Thursday in Lidcombe, the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW put migrant and refugee women's issues on the agenda. Politicians present were: Barbara Perry, MP for Auburn (ALP), Patricia Forsythe, Shadow Minister for Women (Coalition), Lee Rhiannon, MLC (The Greens) and Rachel Jacobs, National Vice-President, Australian Democrats. All political representatives responded to the five key demands of Immigrant Women's Speakout:

1. Refugees on Temporary Protection Visas and asylum seekers on Bridging Visas should be given access to all settlement services and assistance. All TPV holders have been recognised by the UN High Commission for Refugees as genuine refugees. They should not be penalised by Australian governments simply because of how they came to the country.
2. The NSW Government should immediately undertake community education programs to end the scare-mongering and racial stereotyping that is leading to attacks on the Muslim community, particularly women. Muslim women living in NSW should not be the victims of the fear and hostility generated by international events.
3. Increase funding for cross-cultural training of magistrates and the police. The legal system can be particularly confusing and intimidating for new migrants and refugees who may have relatively poor English language skills and a lack of knowledge of their rights. It is unacceptable that the major arms of our legal system do not have systematic cross-cultural training for public officers in this system.
4. Increase English language training and employment assistance for migrant and refugee women. Within new migrant and refugee families in Australia, women are often disadvantaged in terms of English ability and employment opportunities. The NSW government has a responsibility to provide these women with the opportunities to contribute to the Australian economy and society. It is also important that these services are complemented by childcare, transport and financial support to enable women with family responsibilities to access them.
5. Increase funds for services working specifically with migrant and refugee women. Migrant and refugee women are often unable to access services because of the lack of translated information and interpreters within mainstream organisations. Meanwhile, community organisations targeting migrant and refugee women are extremely under-funded, reducing their ability to provide assistance.

Speakout is the peak body in NSW representing the ideas and issues of migrant and refugee women. Last week's forum was co-hosted with the Muslim Women's Association and the Ethnic Communities Council. For further information, contact Jane Brock on 9635-8022 / 0414 854 258 or Soraya Kassim on 0413 013 690. (Digital photo is available on request).


21 February 2003


SPEAKOUT migrant and refugee women's pre-election forum
DATE: Thursday 6 March 2003
TIME: 3:00-5:30pm
PLACE: Lidcombe Community Centre, 3 Bridge Street Lidcombe

Under a cloud of war and widespread fear, Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW together with the United Muslim Women's Association and the Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW host a pre-election forum on migrant and refugee women's issues.

The forum will be addressed by the Honorable Patricia Forsythe, Shadow Minister for Women (Liberal Party), Barbara Perry M.P for Auburn (Labor Party), Sylvia Hale (The Greens Upper House Candidate) and a representative from the Australians Democrats.

Representatives from the Refugee Council of Australia, Immigrant Women's Speakout Association, Ethnic Communities' Council, United Muslim Women's Association and the Al Zahra Muslim Women's Association will also be guest speakers.

There will also be question time for the audience to ask the political representatives for answers to issues that have failed to be addressed by previous policy makers. This makes them accountable in the election, an integral part of our Australian democratic system.

Most importantly, individual migrant and refugee women will share their personal stories about:
>domestic violence
>Muslim women and safety
>difficulties in settling into the Australian community

"This is a unique chance for migrant and refugee women to share their experiences with future political representatives. With the election only weeks away, it is crucial that Government policy reflects the experiences and concerns of migrant and refugee women in our community" said Ms Soraya Kassim, Chairperson of Immigrant Women's Speakout Association.

For further information, call Soraya Kassim (Chairperson) on 0413 013 690 or Jane Brock (Executive Officer) on 9635 8022 or 0414 854 258.




Over 100 non-government and government community services workers are calling for the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs to review migration regulations which deny women in domestic violence situations access to essential services and income support.

The call was made at a Women, Migration and Domestic Violence Forum held on Monday 23 October. The Forum was organised by Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW (Speakout), in conjunction with members of the Coalition Against Violence Against Migrant and Refugee Women.

During the Forum, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, defended changes to provisions for sponsored migrant spouses of Australians who find themselves in domestic violence situations. The changes are due to be implemented from 1 November this year.

"For nearly 4 years now, the Government changes to Migration Law, has meant that women coming to this country as legitimate spouses of Australians have been subjected to the ignominy of being classed "temporary residents", said the Executive Officer of Speakout, Soraya Kassim. "Although they have committed themselves to be in Australia, this official 'temporary' status denies them all access to income support, free English classes, or even travel concessions to get out of their homes in their adopted country." In 1998-99 alone, 21 630 "spouse visas" were granted, and 3110 "fiance visas" were granted.

"We are now seeing one of the impacts of their social isolation and total financial and immigration status dependence on their husbands. While most marriages are very successful, for those women who do find themselves in domestic violence, there often seems no way out,"said Ms Kassim.

Until 1 November spouses can get Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (AVOs) or statutory declarations from "competent persons" such as psychologists, doctors and women's refuge coordinators and services such as Speakout, to support their claims to be permanent residents and thus have access to the help they need.

Under the proposed changes, these women will no longer be able to rely on AVOs or these statutory declarations, but rather are required to attend an interview with a social worker from Centrelink to have the domestic violence claim verified.

"The new changes are clearly undermining the role of the legal system in protecting migrant women in domestic violence situations," said Ms April Pham, the Forum Coordinator and Speakout's Domestic Violence Policy Officer. "They also display a lack of understanding of the importance of "competent persons" in the community, as often being the only people whom women in domestic violence situations can legitimately escape to."

Speakout is the peak advocacy organisation in NSW representing the needs of migrant and refugee women of non-English speaking background (NESB). One of its core projects is the NESB Domestic Violence Project.

For further details about issues raised at the Forum and Outcomes of the Forum:

Contact: April Pham, Forum Coordinator 9635 8022 or 0417 655 969 Soraya Kassim, Executive Officer, Speakout 9635 8022 or 0413 013690



The Honorable Phillip Ruddock MP, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs will be addressing over 100 community organisations, women's refuges, lawyers, police officers, and other government departments at the Women, Migration and Domestic Violence Forum on Monday 23rd October from 10am-5pm.




The Forum has been organised by Immigrant Women's Speakout Association ('Speakout'), in conjunction with members of the Coalition Against Violence Against Migrant and Refugee Women, to deal with the problems experienced by migrant women in domestic violence situations who find it difficult to escape from their abusive relationships because of their immigration status and lack of income support.

President of the NSW Legislative Council, Hon Meredith Burgmann MLCThe Forum will be opened by The Honorable Meredith Burgmann, MLC, with addresses from Robyn Henderson, the Director General for the NSW Department for Women, Chris Evans, Region Commander for the Greater Hume Region, NSW Police Service, domestic violence survivors, and service providers.

"This Forum has been organised in response to the increasing number of newly arrived migrant women approaching us for information and assistance to escape abuse from their partners," said Ms Soraya Kassim, Speakout's Executive Officer. "Community organisations such as Speakout, women's refuges, Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Schemes and police are concerned at the lack of awareness of the difficulties encountered by these women. The Forum will provide support to women to ensure their safety."

"Many women are coming to us who have stayed with their partners because they were not aware of other options available to them" said Ms April Pham, Speakout's Domestic Violence Policy Officer and Forum Co-ordinator. "Often they do not speak very much English, have no income support, don't know their rights and are threatened by their partners to have them deported if they disclose of the abuse".

Speakout is the peak advocacy organisation in NSW representing the issues of migrant and refugee women of non-English speaking background. One of its core projects is the Domestic Violence Project.

Venue for Forum: The Fitzroy Centre, 92 Fitzroy St Burwood

Contact: April Pham Forum Co-ordinator: 0417 655 969 or 9635 8022 Soraya Kassim, EO, Speakout: 0413 013 690

Women, Migration and Domestic Violence Forum 2000: Small Group Discussion



Setting up life in a new country is a challenge for anyone. And for government and non-government service providers, their challenge is how to link newly arrived migrants to the information they need. Now the job has been made easier by providing access to information about essential services for migrant and refugee women on the World Wide Web.

Immigrant Women's Speakout Assoc. of NSW ("Speakout") is launching its website at Cabramatta on Thursday 12 October. The Website was created by and for immigrant and refugee women to provide information about a range of services available in NSW.

"We have chosen to launch our site in the Cabramatta library to promote the accessibility of information through the web and public library system for to all migrant and refugee women"' said the Executive Officer of Speakout, Soraya Kassim.

The new website is part of a larger Information Technology (IT) project which Speakout was funded to manage by the NSW Department for Women.

"We have already trained about 100 migrant and refugee women across NSW in how to use the internet. Training took place in several parts of Greater Sydney, as well as regional centres such as Newcastle, Orange, Lightning Ridge, Griffith and Coffs Harbour. We have also trained 11 migrant women from Western, South Western and Metropolitan Sydney in a VETAB-accredited Web Design course. The objective was to demystify the web for migrant and refugee women and improve their employment opportunities," said Ms Kassim.

The site will be launched at 10.30am at the Whitlam Library in Cabramatta by Mitra Bhar. Ms Bhar is the IT Manager for the Powerhouse Museum. Her IT achievements include a gold and two silver awards from the Technology in Government Committee. She migrated to Australian in 1983 and began her IT career in 1984.

Speakout is the peak body in NSW for migrant and refugee women of non-English speaking background.

Speakout clients who participated in the internet and web site training will be available to be interviewed at the launch.

The Website address is - www.speakout.org.au

For more information - contact : Soraya Kassim on 02-9635 8022 (W); 0413 013690 (m)