It’s time to listen to migrant women

A message from the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health Executive Director

MCWH is extremely concerned about the health and wellbeing of migrant communities, particularly migrant women in the 11 ‘hot zone’ suburbs under Stage 3 restrictions, and public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne under lockdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected migrant women and their access to support services. They have been hardest hit by job and income losses, while taking on the lion’s share of responsibility for caring, housework and family support. They are at higher risk of family violence and social isolation, yet are less likely to have access to the information, support and services they need.

Throughout the crisis, the provision of multilingual information and support to migrant women has been manifestly inadequate. MCWH has strongly advocated for migrant women’s leadership in the prevention of COVID-19 transmissions. There is a need for trained peer health educators to positively engage communities with tailored, accurate and multilingual information and support. This type of support has never been more important.

While the Victorian government has engaged multicultural community leaders over the last month, women community leaders have been overlooked. It is time to listen to migrant women about their experiences and needs to ensure that they can access specific support throughout this crisis. Migrant women’s leadership is crucial to an effective, community-based, preventative response to the pandemic.

We are calling on the Victorian Government to meet with, and listen to, migrant women and their representative organisations, and to recognise their central role in multicultural community leadership. Migrant women’s organisations should be supported to reach out to migrant women who live in the designated ‘hot zones’ and high-density public housing across Victoria with multilingual information, support and services and to play a central role in strengthening the community response to COVID-19.

Dr Adele Murdolo, Executive Director 

Organisations endorsing this statement:

  1. Women’s Health Victoria
  2. Women’s Health Grampians
  3. Women’s Health Goulburn North East
  4. Queen Victoria Women’s Centre
  5. Gender and Women’s Health Unit, MSPGH, University of Melbourne
  6. Women’s Health in the North
  7. WIRE
  8. Gender Equity Victoria
  9. Women’s Health Lodden Mallee
  10. Gippsland Women’s Health
  11. Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West
  12. Women’s Health West
  13. Australian Bosnian Women’s Association “Žena Ženi” Inc
  14. Australian Vietnamese Women’s Association
  15. Women’s Health East
  16. Disability and Health Unit, MSPGH, University of Melbourne
  17. Birth for Humankind
  18. Professor Sara Charlesworth, Director of the Centre for People Organisation & Work, RMIT University
  19. ASCOLTA Women’s Group
  20.  Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University
  21. No to Violence
  22. Shakti Migrant & Refugee Women’s Support Group Melbourne Inc.
  23. The Silent Witness Network
  24. Women with Disabilities Victoria 
  25. Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights
  26. Harmony Alliance
  27.  Women’s Association South East Melbourne Australia (WASEMA) Inc.


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