Anglicare North Coast, Coffs Harbour, Australia, Southern Cross University, ,
Healing in Exile: Current and Future Challenges.
The 3Es to Freedom program emerged from Anglicare North Coast’s (NSW) practical experience in delivering settlement services to families from refugee backgrounds. Working predominantly with female heads-of-households, the emerging practice wisdom
of ANC indicated that economic and financial independence positively impacted other areas of women’s lives; these included increased confidence and self-esteem, wider work / career choices and reduced dependence on relationships that were potentially abusive. This is congruent with research suggesting that improving women’s financial security plays an important role in increasing their safety and reducing vulnerability to violence.
The 3Es program empowers refugee and migrant women to successfully navigate their futures. We do this by developing confidence, building knowledge and broadening women’s experiences to become stronger, through their connections to community.
We know that securing sustainable employment enables the successful settlement and social inclusion of women from refugee backgrounds into regional Australia, fostering healing in exile. However, the paths to the attainment of employment are complex.
This paper reports the interim findings of action research that was associated with a program funded to support women from refugee backgrounds as they navigated the employment pathway in regional areas in New South Wales and Queensland. As social capital enables people to be ‘hired, healthy, happy and housed’ (Woolcock 1998, p.154), this study investigated the form and function of the social networks that facilitated employment and social inclusion. Findings revealed networks were influenced by patterns of regional settlement and social inclusion strategies. This interwoven web of connections fostered women’s safety and enabled them
to discover their unique pathways to sustainable employment.