Raise Them Equal aims to increase the capacity of multicultural and faith communities in the Loddon Mallee to prevent family violence. With a focus on Gender in the Early Years education, the project is designed with a strong commitment to working collaboratively using culturally informed and culturally responsive prevention strategies.
Misunderstandings of ‘culture’ can perpetuate racial stereotypes and that all communities experience family violence and gender inequality in different ways. The Raise Them Equal project prioritises multicultural and faith communities in recognition of the unique structural barriers these communities face in accessing support and is strategically designed to respond to disempowering narratives about migrants and refugees and specific migrant communities, particularly in relation to gender equality and preventing violence against women.
Project activities are designed to build knowledge of gender equality, family violence and local place-based support services and prevention programs. It also specifically recognises the key role that men’s awareness of family violence plays in shifting attitudes and behaviours to prevent family violence.
A key intersectional consideration for this project is experiences of migrant and refugee women living in rural and remote areas. According to the 2021 Migrant and Refugee Women in Australia Safety and Security Study, over a third of participants reported having experienced some form of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) and temporary visa holders consistently reported higher levels of DFV compared to non-temporary visa holders. In the Loddon Mallee, this experience can be compounded by social conditions related to living in regional, rural, and remote areas.
Across the Loddon Mallee, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) settlement is rapidly growing and increasingly diverse with over 60 ethnic communities settled in the City of Greater Bendigo alone. With limited settlement services available, community health organisations play a valuable role in supporting newly arrived residents from CALD backgrounds to settle into life in the region.
Women’s Health Loddon Mallee (WHLM) know that newly arrived migrant and refugee women are often unaware of the services available to them. They also encounter unique challenges that can magnify the effects of violence, such as: migration trauma, a lack of support networks, socio-economic disadvantage, language barriers, community pressure, limited access to transportation and fear of police and support services. In many cases, migrant and refugee women experience social isolation and unique and complex experiences of trauma, particularly among humanitarian arrivals who have spent extended periods of time in refugee camps.
Previous projects tell us that whilst prevention of family violence remains a culturally taboo topic, all communities are motivated by the health and wellbeing of their children and have strong family values. This evidence base has presented an important opportunity to prevent family violence through promotion of gender equality using a Gender in the Early Year’s lens and ‘whole of community’ approach.
After extensive community consultation and a rigorous co-design process, the project is working to build the capacity of its team of bilingual workers to facilitate Gender in the Early years training to community in a co-delivery model. This work is supported through a “wrap around” calendar of community engagement events that aim to engage migrant and refugee communities of the Loddon Mallee in the conversation on Gender in the Early Years, including opportunities to learn about the harmful impact of gender stereotypes and the ways in which parents, carers and services can work together to champion gender equity for the next generation.
The project consults the following key research:
- Change the Story: A shared framework for primary prevention of violence against women in Australia
- Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health Report: Challenging Myths about Culture and Violence in Migrant and Refugee Communities
- Migrant and Refugee Women in Australia: The Safety and Security Study (Harmony Alliance & Monash Uni)