Framing violence prevention in meaningful ways for migrant and refugee communities
This tip sheet features in the December 2018 edition of DVRCV Advocate and was developed for workers by Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health with support from DVRCV.
Migrant communities are often marginalised but we are not marginal. In fact, 49% of Australians are born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas.
Preventing violence means promoting gender equality. Any discrimination against women and girls contributes to their inequality, so preventing violence includes challenging racism, ableism, homophobia and class or age discrimination* as well as sexism.
Tips to make violence prevention more meaningful for migrant communities
Remember, there’s more to migrants
A person or group cannot be defined by a single category: we are more than our labels.
Birthplace isn’t the most important thing you need to know about us, and it’s definitely not the only thing.
Challenge ‘cultural’ explanations for violence
Violence against women and gender inequality exists across all Australian communities. Assumptions about ‘cultural’ attitudes to women or violence can lead to harmful stereotypes and stigma. Prevention is not about changing ‘migrant cultures’: it is about changing the culture of violence across all Australian communities.
See cultures as complex and changing
We are all shaped by the cultures we live in. We are not defined by them. Cultures change over time and place, are experienced differently by different people, and are characterised by differences and oppositions within them.
Think about what it means to ‘represent a community’
As migrants and refugees, we are often seen to represent our entire community. No individual speaks for a whole community. Communities should not be stigmatised or stereotyped because of the actions or opinions of individuals.
Embrace not being the expert
Culture is complex. Being ‘culturally competent’ or ‘culturally appropriate’ isn’t a tick box. Learning how to negotiate cultural difference is an ongoing process and the only experts are community members themselves. So:
- Make sure communities have ownership of the process
- Consult with specialist organisations
- Value migrant and refugee women’s expertise and experience.
* And many more types of discrimination or injustice like discrimination on the basis of someone's visa status or migration pathway. For more tips read the Multicultural Centre for Women's Health Intersectionality Matters Guide.