ASeTTS, Maylands, Australia
BACKGROUND AND AIMS:
Young Australian women of all backgrounds experience gender based violence (GBV) which leads to feelings of powerlessness.
Young women from refugee-like backgrounds are further vulnerable as they have experienced disruptions to family, community, education, and their own personal development.
The project aimed to provide a safe space for young refugee women to ‘unpack’ common issues relating to their physical, mental, cultural, and human rights. Further the project sought to build the self-confidence and esteem, while also enhancing their links with peers, role models and services.
Two groups of young women completed the program, which addressed 11 challenges identified by the young refugee women, including; self-esteem, peer pressure, healthy relationships, domestic violence, sexual health, reproductive health, gender, marriage & cultural expectations, personal & cyber safety.
Weekly sessions were conducted by expert facilitators and two youth support workers (young women that are former ASeTTS clients) who utilised information-sharing, peer support, excursions, physical activities, crafts and, importantly, food, Participants experienced a safe space to explore difficult topics, share their feelings and experiences and learn about services that
can provide support.
We faced challenges in recruiting clients to attend due to the sensitive nature of the topics being explored, as well as young women’s capacity to attend after school hours or during the weekend. This was largely overcome through building connection and trust with family members and being flexible with days and times of sessions.
IMPLICATIONS & CONCLUSIONS:
Young women from refugee communities have unique vulnerabilities to GBV that demand specialised approaches that are traumainformed and culturally-appropriate. Intimate peer groups supported by expert role models represents an effective means to reduce risks and build individual and social resilience.