Human rights

Our Community, Our Rights in 2013


“I loved attending this training because I’ve learned so many things and know a lot about human rights. Now I can work on the next step toward helping my community.”

In 2013, we facilitated a series of practical and interactive workshops with women from Karen, Chin, Karenni, Zomi and Kachin communities (from Burma) on human rights, making change and being active in the community. The workshops were fun and interactive, and were developed in consultation with communities from Burma.

Together with expert guests, we learned about human rights law and how we can assert and protect our rights. We talked about discrimination, the healthcare system, workplace rights, tenancy rights and women’s rights. We practised advocacy skills like asserting our rights with the doctor, making complaints to human rights bodies, using the media to make our voices louder, and organising with others to defend our rights and fight against inequity. Women’s Health West provided childminding, food, transport assistance and a reimbursement for participants’ time to ensure the training was accessible.

We then supported participating women to design and deliver their own advocacy projects addressing community concerns. Participants implemented the following projects:

  1. A forum for service providers about ways to work more effectively with the Karen community. This workshop discussed Karen culture, the Karen refugee experience, settlement challenges and strengths, and cross-cultural practice tips for better communication and understanding. 110 service providers attended this event; feedback indicated significant increases in cross-cultural understanding and sensitivity, which respondents anticipate will enable them to conduct their work more culturally sensitively and in a way that promotes greater social harmony. Find out more about Karen culture by downloading the women’s presentation, Working for us, with us
  2. A letter written on behalf of the Karen community was sent to retailers in the energy, telecommunications and credit industries demanding an end to door-to-door sales targeting newly arrived communities. This action was accompanied by three consumer rights information sessions for the Karen community and the distribution of Karen-language consumer rights materials and Do Not Knock stickers. The campaign resulted in media coverage including a segment on SBS News and articles in the local paper.
  3. A full day of gender equity training for ten newly arrived Zomi and Karenni women. This introduced women to the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and the Equal Opportunity Act, and generated discussion about human rights, ways to challenge gender norms and stereotypes, and ways to prevent family violence by promoting gender equity.

Contact Shifrah at Women’s Health West for a copy of the evaluation reports, to get involved or to share your ideas.

Phone: 9689 9588
Email: shifrah@whwest.org.au