Equality@Work is a partnership project between the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) and Mercy Health.
It is the first workplace prevention program in Australia to address gender inequality and other intersecting forms of inequality which make immigrant and refugee women particularly vulnerable to family violence and other forms of violence against women.
The project is funded through the Victorian Government’s Free from violence Strategy.
What is Equality@Work?
Equality@Work is a workplace gender equality project to prevent violence against women before it occurs. Given the culturally diverse nature of the Mercy Health workforce, this means recognising and addressing how gender and social inequality disproportionately affect staff from migrant backgrounds. While many Australian workplaces have designed and implemented gender equality action plans, Equality@Work is the first workplace initiative that specifically engages migrant women workers to better understand and address their needs.
How does Equality@Work help migrant and refugee women?
Staff forums give migrant and refugee women aged care workers an opportunity to have a space where their viewpoints can be heard. The forums are for aged care workers with differing roles within the organisation including pastoral care, administration, personal care assistants, nurses, kitchen and laundry staff, clinical managers. This diversity provides us with a wide range of experiences.
The forums also allowed participants to understand and discuss issues of structural inequality specific to migrant women (including the migration journey, visas, economic pressure, racism, sexism, the non-recognition of overseas qualifications, the cost of further study and accreditation in Australia), the intersectional drivers of violence against women, and prevention in the workplace.
We leave these sessions with knowledge [about gender equality]. We can distribute this information to our girlfriends. Spread the word, it’s like a domino effect. We do have these conversations outside of work, but forum like this are an opportunity to learn and share, which we then take into our lives outside work.
Gender Equality Advocates Training
This training is aimed at staff with organisational decision making roles within the organisation such as team leaders, peer leaders, administration staff, registered nurses and other managers. The participants have the opportunity to contribute to discussions about how to structurally embed advocacy skills amongst managers, team leaders and peer leaders within each workplace and across the organisation.
Managers, team leaders, peer leaders and mentors have daily contact with aged care workers through supervision, support, rostering, mentoring, career development reviews and team meetings. Through the Advocates training, participants have been able to develop their knowledge and skills about the gendered and intersectional drivers of violence against women, and ways of building, modelling and advocating for gender equality at each participant’s interpersonal, organisational and structural sphere of influence ranging from everyday informal conversations with staff, to addressing issues of inequality and discrimination
I have more understanding, knowledge about where to assist and give guidance on links with gender inequality and family violence.