Wellsprings leads on gender equity

Participants in the nominated women''s health program at Wellsprings. 193673_01 Picture: GARY SISSONS


Wellsprings for Women has been selected as a finalist for Neighbourhood Houses Victoria’s inaugural gender equity award.

Its Dandenong-based women’s health and safety program was recognised for its education, awareness raising and dialogue on gender equity, respectful relationships and preventing violence against women.

More than 380 women from migrant and refugee backgrounds had taken part in the past 18 months.

Many of them had limited English and little prior education.

“It was quite challenging for us to develop and run the sessions as there were no resources or tools to use that were tailored to women from culturally diverse backgrounds,” Wellsprings chief executive Dalal Smiley said.

“We found ways to get the message across and relied heavily on dialogue and using images, we could find on internet to illustrate some complex concepts.”

Ms Smiley said existing gender-equity resources did not resonate with many migrant and refugee women.

“The issue is viewed with western culture lens that does not include culturally diverse women and their experiences.

“It is interesting to note that while in English we differentiate between sex and gender, there is no differentiation between the two in other languages.”

Gender equity underpinned “everything we do” at the women-only organization, Ms Smiley said.

The program is funded by the Department of Social Services.

The award is named after Fiona Richardson, the late Women and Prevention of Family Violence Minister.


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