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IWSA Chairperson Report 2003-2004

Chairperson: Vivi Germanos - Koutsounadis

During the year, Speakout experienced many positive internal changes. These developments and progress placed our organisation in a better position to respond to the many needs and challenges faced by our members, other stakeholders and the community in which we are all a part.

One of these changes is our move to a new location. Our new premises are more accessible and have a larger meeting room and office spaces for the staff. We can better look after our resources and make them available to our members and other migrant and refugee women. Women and their families can hold their various activities in a happy and safe environment. The Hon. Carmel Tebbutt, Minister for Community Services, Ageing, Disability Services and Youth officially opened the new premises on 14th October 2004.

The Department of Community Services funds the Immigrant Women’s Speakout as a peak organisation, through the project the Immigrant Women’s’ Resource Centre and the Support Service for CALD Women in Domestic Violence. Other projects were funded by non-government organisations such as the Family Support Project that was funded by the Casino Community Benefit Fund.

The Family Support Project and the Skilled Migrant Placement Project (SMPP) ended this year. The NSW Government terminated all SMP Programs. The closure and defunding of SMP program has left a gap in the provision of assistance to immigrant and refugee women. The women who sought assistance from Speakout are very vulnerable as they are often in domestic violence situations. They need English proficiency and local work experience to get paid job. Many of them do not fully understand the Australian process of employment and other systems in the workplace.

On the other hand, the funding grant for the Family Support Project was eighteen months only. However, the valuable casework and community development work done by the Project Officer have addressed the needs and gaps in service provision for NESB women and their families from small emerging communities and Temporary Protection Visa holders, in Blacktown and Fairfield.

We procured new funding from the Department of Community Services (DoCS), Community Development Support Expenditure Scheme (CDSE) and the Western Sydney Area Assistance Scheme (WSAAS) for four new projects:

· the Multicultural Family Support Service - Early Intervention Project for families and children in Blacktown;
· the Families First Community Development Project in Auburn.
· the NESB Women’s Multicultural Access Project for Local Gov- ernment Areas (LGAs) of Auburn, Parramatta and Blacktown (The Western Sydney Area Assistance Scheme (WSAAS))
· CALD Women: Getting Job-Ready in Parramatta (CDSE)
· CALD Women Volunteers’ Training in Burwood (CDSE)

There were many changes on the staff profile. A few left and others have joined our organisation. We wish to thank those who are still with us for their commitment, contribution and dedication to their work and the professional service they provide.

The new Management Committee is composed of women from various professional and ethnic backgrounds. They have expertise in domestic violence, rural, aged, disability, child-care, employment, training, welfare and participation in ethnic communities and organisations and a wealth of skills in many fields, wisdom and understanding of NESB and other women’s issues. They make invaluable contribution in the governance of the organisation and in mentoring and assisting the staff in their various projects. We wish to say goodbye to those who have left and resigned. We thank them for their valuable contribution. Thank you to those who continued, for their dedication and commitment through the year.

Please read the Executive Officer’s Report and the reports of the staff of the various Projects. These will give you details on the various projects operated by the organisation, the partnerships formed and committees and interagencies attended. You will find information on the input made in campaigns on issues affecting women in the Federal and State levels, with the staff of various projects, and the Management Committee members representing the interest of immigrant and refugee women.

We wish to thank and acknowledge the leadership, dedication, patience and perseverance of our Executive Officer, Jane Brock, who ably co-ordinated the work of the various projects, provided support and direction to the staff and the management committee during the year.

Thank you to

· the State and Local government departments or providing the funding,
· the staff of these departments for their support,
· our partners in the community sector, and
· those who contributed in any way

Together, you enable us to continue to serve the needs of immigrant and refugee women, their families and communities so that they may participate in and gain access to services that are culturally and linguistically relevant to meet their needs.

Thank you to Camille Moldrich for her advice and support with our finances, and to our Auditor, Sandra Groulmus. Finally, yet importantly, thank you to our members who support our work and to all of you who have come to our Annual General Meeting and Opening of our New Premises.

We have outlined some issues of concern encountered by the organisation in our contact with our clients, the NESB women and their families and communities. The staff reports presented these issues and concerns.