Our Community, Our Rights

Hope for a New Beginning

The first phase of Our Community, Our Rights (OCOR) – comprising human rights based advocacy workshops, and project development support with South Sudanese women in the west – is complete.

Participants engaged in a sequence of seven human rights based advocacy workshops on topics including racism and discrimination, health, rights at work and in education and safety. WHW then supported them to plan their own human rights based advocacy project on a topic they identified as important to their community.

As a result OCOR participants developed Hope for a New Beginning a project designed to work with the Equatorian South Sudanese community to understand the problem of violence against women and begin to identify solutions. The project group consulted extensively with community leaders to gain their support and then ran a day-long workshop on Saturday 25 August at Footscray Uniting Church.

The workshop comprised three sections:

  • Batsi and Kirsten from Women’s Health West ran a session on understanding what family violence is and how to respond to it
  • Zita Adut Deng Ngor, Director of the Women’s Legal Service South Australia, explained how to navigate the Australian legal system
  • Carol Ransley of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission facilitated a session on how the Victorian Charter of Human Rights works

Participants used a range of practical tools to connect strongly with the themes. One scenario vigorously discussed by participants was around difficulties in negotiating contraception within relationships, and how this often leads to violence against women.

‘It is very hard for us to talk about these issues as South Sudanese women…but I feel that a fire has been lit and these women have been very brave to talk about such things.’

Hope for a New Beginning participant

‘It [this workshop] will change people’s lives and make them feel more powerful to make change and fight for their rights.’

Hope for a New Beginning participant

The organisers of Hope for a New Beginning now want to create a DVD about violence against women that will effectively communicate with groups of South Sudanese men and women. Women’s Health West is working with other Our Community, Our Rights participants to deliver a workshop on negotiating contraception in relationships.

In 2013 we will run the program with communities from Burma. For further information please contact Kirsten Campbell on kirsten@whwest.org.au or 9689 9588.

By Kirsten Campbell, Health Promotion Worker, first published whw news ( Ed3, 2012)