Creating a safe space of learning where women seeking asylum can overcome barriers is a key goal for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Womens Empowerment Program, and is especially close to program coordinator Veronica’s heart.
Speaking to Raschell McHugh on local Melbourne radio station RRR’s ‘Room with a View’ program on Monday 22 January, Veronica explained how her professional background, and lived experience of seeking asylum in Australia, helped to deliver a program to empower and support women to develop the right skills to enter into education and employment pathways.
‘I am a professional person in my country of origin with a social work degree, having practiced social work and development in my country with Papua New Guinea Government for almost 20 years. But then being here seeking asylum and on a bridging visa temporarily…getting a secure job was an obstacle for me.’ Veronica explained.
‘Back in my home country I worked with disadvantaged, vulnerable women, especially with women who are not able to go through the formal education process, or system rather, who are not able to find employment. I worked on building alternate activities for them, so I brought that experience to this program’.
Veronica was joined by ASRC Empowerment Pathways Manager Carla, who explained the program is essential in bridging the gaps in education and opportunity that many women seeking asylum did not receive in their home of origin, especially when it comes to English.
‘English is a huge barrier for participation in general in the community, whether it’s being able to access important training that you need to be able to get a job or to be employable. It’s fundamentally important and it’s sort of the foundation of social inclusion, so having the Women’s Empowerment Program is really an attempt to meet women where they’re at.
‘We have a range of women that might come with very limited literacy in their home country, perhaps they weren’t even literate in their mother tongue in terms of reading and writing, all the way through to some highly professional women who might have masters degrees in their home countries, and they might be interested to pursue a really active career in Australia.’
Listen to the full podcast to hear about the ASRC’s Women’s Empowerment Program is breaking down barriers and tackling isolation to create essential opportunities and connection for women seeking asylum.
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