Multicultural women contribute unique skills and talents to Australian society, but more collaboration between sectors is vital to help women from CALD backgrounds thrive in Australia.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis with a number of delegates who attended the inaugural National Multicultural Women's Conference.
This was one of the key messages delivered at the inaugural National Multicultural Women’s Conference – Influencing Change: Vision and Impact (NMWC), held in partnership with SSI and the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) at the Parkroyal Parramatta on November 3-4, 2016.
Bringing together almost 400 politicians, practitioners, academics and community members, the conference covered a range of issues affecting CALD women such as health, identity, education, employment and culture, with the aim of discussing holistic strategies to support multicultural women and make their voices heard at the national level.
Featuring high profile speakers including Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs Zed Seselja, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek, the two-day conference provided a platform for delegates to share their expertise, develop new ideas and perspectives, and prompt a shift in the national dialogue.
Renata Kaldor; Hina Durrani, FECCA Women's Chair; Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister Social Services and Multicultural Affairs; SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis; Director of FECCA, Dr Emma Campbell, and Joseph Caputo, FECCA Chair.
Delegates also heard from Renata Kaldor AO who delivered a touching keynote address reflecting on her own experiences as a refugee, and her efforts to advocate for change in Australia.
"Certainly immigration has enriched us in ways well beyond the bottom line," she said. "The evidence shows that refugees are some of Australia’s most productive and successful people."
The inaugural NMWC featured a range of panel and plenary sessions including highly esteemed speakers such as Captain Mona Shindy from the Royal Australian Navy, Greens NSW MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi, and NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian.
Panellists also discussed the challenges and opportunities facing Indigenous communities in Australia in a moving and thought-provoking plenary session.
Uieta Kaufusi, 1800 RESPECT; Tasneem Chopra; Zione Walker-Nthenda, Incubate Foundation; Antoinette Braybrook, FVPLS Victoria; Nova Peris OAM; Dr Jackie Huggins, National Congress of Australia's First Peoples.
Speakers including National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Dr Jackie Huggins, and former Senator and first Indigenous woman elected to Federal parliament Nova Peris made a special mention of the similarities facing Indigenous and multicultural communities in Australia, and the need to stay united in advocating for change.
“Indigenous women aren’t part of the problem; we’re part of the solution,” Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Service Victoria Antoinette Braybrook added.
Also on the agenda was a lively debate on whether there is a glass ceiling for multicultural women in Australia, facilitated by The Feed presenter Jeanette Francis, and a Q&A panel session moderated by Jenny Brockie from SBS’s Insight program.
Over 390 delegates from across Australia attended the two-day conference.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the conference was a great success which highlighted the need for more collaboration to minimise barriers facing multicultural women and empower them to prosper in Australia.
"Multicultural women are such an important part of the fabric of our communities," Ms Roumeliotis said. "They are inspiring leaders, teachers, mentors, mothers and more, and yet they face incredible barriers in Australian society in the areas of education, employment, culture, health and more.
"The pressures facing multicultural women are overwhelming, and the additional challenges need to be recognised so they can be addressed. Multicultural women are incredibly resilient and resourceful, but they need to be supported across sectors to achieve their potential in Australia."
Noting that the conference was 'well overdue', Ms Roumeliotis said delegates walked away with new ideas, networks, and solutions for the future.
“The National Multicultural Women’s Conference provided a critical opportunity for experts in the field to come together to reframe the narrative around CALD women and work towards change across sectors,” Ms Roumeliotis said.
A full house at the National Multicultural Women's Conference.
The National Multicultural Women’s Conference was supported by major sponsors including AMES Australia, Multicultural NSW and the City of Sydney.