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Violence against women and their children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.

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Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Domestic Violence Prevention Project


SydWest Multicultural Services

 

What is the project about?

Aims

The Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Domestic Violence Prevention Project (‘the project’) is funded by the Department of Social Services and is aimed at reducing violence against women and their children in CALD communities residing in Blacktown. The project aimed to recruit and train a team of Community Ambassadors from the Afghan, Indian and South Sudanese communities to deliver DV messages and facilitate changes in thinking and behaviour amongst members of their respective communities.

Project activities

This project will achieve its activity objectives by empowering women and other community members to lead the efforts to reduce violence in their communities. The project has supported community members to become Community Ambassadors and lead change in their communities. Our approach focuses on community capacity building.

More recently, the project has also helped conduct conversations with faith leaders in partnership with researchers at the Australian National University, working on a research project on “Faith Communities and Family Safety”. This project explored the role of faith leaders and cultural values in attitudes and responses to domestic and family violence.

Action research focus

  • What did community ambassadors learn from the training provided and the experience of undertaking the project role?
  • What kinds of prevention work are most effective in engaging the communities involved in the project?
  • What role can faith leaders and religious communities play in the prevention of Violence Against Women?

Research activities

  • 15 post-training surveys were conducted after training sessions for Community Ambassadors, and three surveys were conducted with three communities.
  • 3 informal group interviews with religious leaders and community leaders.
  • Observations of project activities by the project team.

 

Where was the project conducted?

Blacktown LGA, Sydney, NSW.

 

Time frame:

May 2018 – June 2020

 

How has this project impacted communities, organisations and your region?

  • Emerging and established community leaders gained knowledge and skills to deliver prevention messages and work within their communities.
  • The project created an informal network of Afghan, Indian and South Sudanese community leaders and organisations. This network provides regular engagement and peer support for growth and sustainability – this outcome will extend beyond the life of project.

 

What worked well?

  • Engagement with the Community Ambassadors has successfully raised awareness on  domestic and family violence in the communities in the area.
  • Putting time into finding the right influencers with a good reputation in the community to be Community Ambassadors led to successful community engagement.
  • Concluding the Community Ambassadors’ engagement with a graduation and distribution of certificates helped to celebrate their contributions.
  • The project worker built a strong relationship with faith and community leaders. These relationships built on the trust and reputation that Sydwest Multicultural Services has established in the community over 30 years.
  • A holistic approach, which engaged both men and women, made the prevention messaging more effective across the community.
  • The expertise of the advisory group helped ensure that the project’s digital stories were culturally appropriate.
  • Flexibility with meeting times enabled higher attendance at advisory group meetings. Sydwest also drew on their established relationships with agencies on the advisory group to engage advisory group members for the duration of the project.

 

What did not work?

  • The project did not have enough time and resources to engage with all the three communities it initially aimed to engage. This led to revisions of the Community Ambassador program and curtailing the engagement with one community to just two Community Ambassadors.
  • The short-term timelines of the project did not allow for ongoing engagement with communities, despite the project generating enough enthusiasm amongst leaders for further work to be done. For example, after the conclusion of the first stages of the project, community leaders sometimes informally asked what is happening with the project and seemed eager to participate in future events.
  • At times, written surveys were not the best way for community leaders to express themselves in response to research questions. In these circumstances the project worker conducted informal interviews with leaders to collect their views.

 

What did you learn from the project?

  • Our observations of community engagement with the project indicated that there is a need for different prevention or creating safer pathways initiatives specifically for CALD women and their children.
  • The project provided an opportunity to consult with different faith-based communities across different states in Australia, which highlighted the role of religion and cultural values in attitudes and responses to family violence in CALD communities and to gain a better understanding of their capacity for prevention, early intervention and responses to family violence.
  • Engaging with emerging female faith leaders created an alternative source of support for prevention work when some male faith leaders expressed conservative views that did not align with the work of advancing gender equality and preventing violence.

 

Do you have suggestions for policy-makers, educators or service providers?

  • Future initiatives should consider influencing positive family relationships by targeting young people through school programs and in the community.
  • Future initiatives to engage multiple communities should include more funding and time for project delivery. While the current project has opened up ideas and conversations for the communities involved, the results of our surveys suggest that, given the sensitive nature of the project, long-term engagement with more community consultations is necessary for future prevention work.

 

Where to from here?

On the 19 September 2019, SydWest, in partnership with Multicultural Families Organisation (based in Queensland), hosted a very successful inaugural dinner that marked the roll out of the Leadership for Change initiative in NSW. With a turnout of 150 guests from a diverse range of communities attending, the program featured an overview of the program, which will be a community-led initiative aimed at addressing social issues in the Blacktown community including domestic and family violence. The event also included performances from different parts of the world including Flamenco, African drumming and performances from Polynesian cultures.

SydWest will also be working with NSW Department of Justice to organise three separate seminars on the prevention of domestic violence with the Afghan, Indian and Sudanese communities.

 

People and organisations to thank:

Domestic Violence Prevention Community Ambassadors (with their countries of birth):

Akram: Sudan

Zahra: Afghanistan

Deepak: India

Assefa: Ethiopia

Sanjive: India

Ade: Nigeria

Suzan – Afghanistan

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