Family Support Project Report 2002-2003
Project Officer: Zulekha Nazir
The Family Support Project aims to address the needs of women and children in migrant and refugee families. Part of this project was to provide appropriate casework, referrals and community development. My report covers the two main Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Fairfield and Blacktown. In these areas I ran the Speakout project from Hewitt House Neighbourhood Centre (Guildford -Fairfield) and Swinson Cottage (Blacktown).
I have successfully established a playgroup for migrant and women and children, and provided information sessions to women on subjects such as domestic violence and child protection. I have also run community consultations with various women's groups and service providers. Family support is a much-needed programme for newly established communities as parenting and cultural values are an important identity for each one of them. It empowers families toward self-reliance and to build a network of supportive groups that helps in sustaining their efforts.
As the family support worker I have provided casework for 28 women and families (graph) to date. Four of these were in relation to domestic violence and child abuse. Some of this casework is ongoing and clients were referred by friends, legal centres, other family support services that were not familiar with cross cultural issues in relation to families, hospital social workers, community health centres and Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) services also other community organisations.
I have had 40 phone inquiries on family problems, Centrelink and housing. Service providers from other community organisations also phone us for assistance.
Casework Support included
Face to Face and Telephone Sessions
Issues and Concerns
As a result of consultations with families and with key women's groups I have organised playgroups for mothers from migrant and refugee backgrounds. These are running successfully and providing a much-needed service to mothers in isolation. It has been a challenge in itself to get this project up and running especially with all the demands on my time and the number of issues that have come about as a result of providing information to mothers in relation to their children. The most positive outcome was that we addressed social isolation of the families and it is working well.
At present I have 8 mothers and 11 children who come every week without fail to the playgroup. I must congratulate the mothers for their dedication to the children and the support that they give to each other. Its good to note that there were times when I cannot attend the playgroup and the mums were able to manage the day's activities.
We organised a Playvan, which is part of a Learning Support Programme for mothers. The Playvan comes with toys, an occupational therapist and a skilled childcare worker, who play with the children and make assessments of the children's abilities and answer any concerns of mothers about their children.
From our playgroups we identified the following issues:
On March 18, 2003 after planning and hard work, the Speakout's Family Support Program and Hewitt House Neighbourhood Centre had a very successful day called "Refugees part of our neighbourhood". This came about because of the number of refugee families moving into the Fairfield area and its aim was to bring awareness of issues faced by refugee families when they settled in a new area. We started by explaining the term refugee and included stories of their experiences and circumstances around people's settlement in Australia. From this day a very successful learning circle was established which involved interested members of the community and workers to discuss topics such as settlement, Muslim women, and detention centres. This learning circle is ongoing and very successful. The Parramatta local paper published a very good article about our learning circle. Also there was a very successful display of the "Living from a Suitcase" Art Exhibition from Immigrant Women's Speakout.
Information Sessions were held for Midwives working at the Blacktown Hospital. The needs discussed in the session were focused on the culturally appropriate approach to delivery and post-natal practices. At the end of the session participants outlined the following recommendations:
Another information session was held for Social Workers in Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospital. The discussion on needs focused on lack of culturally appropriate services for NESB migrant and refugee women who are in hospitals and accessing other health services. Participants recommended that health service providers must get advice on cross-cultural communication and service delivery, from the Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of NSW, Junaya Family Services and Family Crisis Services.
Participation in Major Committees and Networks
I have participated in these committees and networks. They have been valuable in providing me with knowledge of the communities and the families there. Also I have had consultation sessions and made recommendations to some of these services. They have also referred families from migrant and refugee backgrounds to me for support.