Increasing opportunities for refugee women

The Zonta Club of Bendigo, Australia partnered with the Bendigo Community Health Services Limited (BCHS) for the project, Building the Health Literacy and Quality of Life for Refugee Women. The project aimed to engage refugee women and provide an opportunity to build knowledge and literacy in the areas of health, political, financial literacy, jobs and career aspirations and family violence, increase opportunity for recreation and physical activity, and foster formal and informal intercultural and other connections to the local community, sports, arts and services.

With a US$5,000 grant from Zonta International, the project reached more than 60 women with a mix of Karen, Afghan and South Sudanese backgrounds. Project activities included:

  • Seven health information sessions on women’s health, safe medication management, relevant BCHS services and how to access them, a tour of the Bendigo hospital, and information sessions for mothers on dental care for children, managing children’s behavior and preparing for school.
  • A two-day leadership course for refugee youth that covered a variety of topics, including leadership, building a sense of team, working with others, thriving through challenge and active citizenship.
  • A two-week parenting program, which covered brain development, behavior, responding to challenging behavior, and technology and parenting.
  • Exercise sessions incorporating yoga and aerobics.
  • Bowling with Babies at the Golden Square Bowls Club.
  • Netball training.
  • Child-friendly activities such as sessions at the Bendigo Discovery Centre, Bendigo Pottery and the Golden Dragon Museum.

This project has provided refugee women living in Bendigo with opportunities, support and information often not available to them. Women were engaged and appeared to enjoy the activities and sessions. Many stated they would not feel comfortable or confident to attend on their own, but as an organized group they were happy and comfortable.

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