International Women’s Day


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International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on 8th March.

One of the focus areas for International Women’s day is eliminating violence against women and girls which is a serious problem, is entirely preventable and we all have a role to play to end violence at home and around the world.

Within the Sub-Continent communities we have our own challenges, they largely come in one of two ways: the lack of acknowledgement by the administration in social policy and adequate services, then how the community itself responds to the issues of domestic abuse and violence.

This month we will look at the first; where we sit in the social framework of the Australian system to help address the problems. The Sub-Continent community sits in a larger group known as CALD which is Culturally And Linguistically Diverse, which is all ethnic cultures that are not Australian. By Australian we are not talking about the indigenous people but the colonial settler community.

Some Muslim Women’s Groups – who focus largely on the Middle Eastern communities, have advocated for culturally specific services for over 35 years, to date there are still only a handful of organizations that are funded. Such services are not to be confused with professionally developed, researched solution based services from the Government; these are services that are the product of generous and dedicated volunteers who cannot sit by and watch the suffering of other people.

The issues raised by these people has gone relatively unheard and the product of their experience is absent in social policy. For the Sub-Continent while there are similarities with the dedicated Muslim groups there are also key differences, hence the growing establishment of professional services such as those by the Indian (Sub-Cont.) Crisis and Support Agency (ICSA) and other volunteer based community groups.

The Indian Subcontinent is acknowledged to be the largest growing demographic in Australia, with some newer suburbs like Bungarriee in Western Sydney quoted to have 80% residents from this community. There is a vibrant leisure and entertainment industry and food events which are greatly popular in the wider community. Australia is enjoying a growing partnership in industry and business with the Sub-Continent with new opportunities for trade opening in both directions all the time.

The system does not work for many of the issues faces by ethnic cultures. The system has continued plodding along under the same social policies, with front-line workers trying to work out how to deal with the complex problems before them.

A client from the subcontinent has to fit into the system that exists, there are not many options and where there is no option the client gets no service. This is a discreet form of discrimination.

For clients who need interpreters, they are even worse off as they are highly dependent on the interpreters and as such miss out on even routine services until there is an interpreter available. A victim of violence of abuse is then subjected to a further level of abuse by the system failing them.

In a country where we pride ourselves on our first world systems, why is there incidental discrimination in the social sector? Why then are the social issues being left behind for this community?

A common solution has been to hire a CALD worker, but let’s not assume that this is all due to a desire to eliminate discrimination and provide a more egalitarian service. A growing demographic also means these are the workers available, so who else could you hire?

For now, it is considered having a CALD workforce, is assumed to address the unique issues of the CALD community.

The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia

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