Emma Davidson from WCHM attended a Multicultural Women’s Health Network meeting in Melbourne on 25 to 26 October. The meeting was hosted by Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, and included representatives from around Australia.
While not all multicultural women are migrants, there was a clear focus during the discussions on the specific issues facing women who are migrants. Issues raised by organisations from other states include:
- Funding for many organisations has remained the same for a decade, but the number of women in need of services has increased, so that organisations are under increasing financial pressure.
- Difficulty accessing translating and interpreting services – not all health professionals are eligible for free use of TIS, and some who are eligible do not use it because it adds to the time taken for the consultation.
- Women whose visa does not provide access to Medicare, but are on a low income, have difficulty accessing healthcare. This includes maternity care.
- Domestic violence levels are high, support services are not always adequately funded to help migrant women (especially with need for translation services or additional legal support for visa issues), and some women experience high levels of stigma around disclosure.
- Some women are experiencing sexual harassment and assault from exploitative employers.
- There is a need for education resources on sexual consent and respectful relationships.
- Female genital mutilation is a continuing issue in some communities.
- Forced marriage continues to be an issue in some communities.
Women’s Centre for Health Matters will incorporate some of the shared issues from this meeting in our submission on the National Women’s Health Strategy consultation, due on 5 November.
While in Melbourne, Emma also attended the 40th birthday celebrations of the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health. The event included speeches and recognition of the Centre’s founding members and significant contributions made by staff and Board members over the decades. More photos on MCWH’s Facebook.