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On Tuesday the 8th December as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based violence campaign, MWA was proud to present an online forum exploring the impact of COVID-19 on multicultural communities. Sector leaders in family violence, cultural diversity, policy and settlement discussed the impact of the pandemic on CALD communities in relation to womens’ access, safety and needs identifying what we’ve learnt so far and how we can better engage with and support culturally and linguistically diverse communities moving forward.

Maha Abdo OAM began with Acknowledgement of Country and an official welcome. She discussed the purpose of MWA’s research report and its preliminary findings, stating “while we were calling in to see how our clients, staff and volunteers were doing, our Senior Management Team said let’s do what we always do and this time document the lived experience in the moment which is all detailed in the report.”

NSW Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Violence, Mark Speakman opened the webinar, launched the ‘Serving with Purpose: Domestic and Family Violence, CALD Communities and COVID19 report’. In his opening remarks, he acknowledged the tragic death of Samr Dawoodi and the impact on her three children, reflecting on the importance of listening to the voices of lived experience and frontline workers in keeping communities safe, which is reflected in the Serving with Purpose Report.

Minister Speakman commended MWA on “the foresight to capture the impact while dealing with increased and intensified support needs… the report provides useful insight and data to support these conversations, including the nuanced impact of COVID19 on family and community interactions and on mental health in particular.”

As a pluralist society we recognise that faith can be a lens through which we experience our lives. The State government is about to engage a number of faith leaders in an understanding of domestic violence, and with feedback from Muslim Women Australia will ensure this occurs through a gender lens and female leaders are included in the approach. Its an excellent reminder of the importance of collaboration and codesign” announced Minister Speakman. MWA welcomes the Minister’s announcement and commitment to community led solutions in ending domestic and family violence. 

Alongside MWA CEO on the need for specialist services, CEOs from Womens Safety NSW, Multicultural NSW and Settlement Services International spoke to findings from consultations undertaken with communities and frontline service providers. In dealing with the challenges multicultural communities faced by COVID19, with reference to policy and practice reforms relating to accessing police and interpreter services and safety for temporary visa holders.

This online forum also included a presentation from NSW Shadow Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Trish Doyle MP, where she stated, “there is something particularly powerful about case studies that speak to data so congratulations to MWA on this report”.

In responding to Shadow Minister Doyle, Maha Abdo announced the partnership development between MWA and Australian National Imams Council, including the release of a Joint Statement, with an action plan to be developed for 2021.

MWA also acknowledged apologies from Domestic Violence NSW CEO Delia Donovan and CEO of NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS), Joanna Quilty, with particular recognition to NCOSS for their ‘Wave of Disadvantage’ report detailing the impact of the COVID19 recession on housing, domestic violence, child protection, mental health and economy and their highly informative post-budget event.

President of MWA, Shaza Rifi closed the event with final thanks and concluding remarks, noting the appreciation for the dedication of all frontline workers in supporting the most vulnerable members in the community. 

‘Serving with Purpose: Domestic and Family Violence, CALD Communities and COVID19’

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