Bridging Women’s Worlds – A project run by women and for women, aimed at showcasing the benefits of multiculturalism and promoting awareness and acceptance.
The Bridging Women’s Worlds (BWW) project involves activities and events which showcase the benefits of multiculturalism and promote awareness and acceptance of cultural diversity in Melbourne. BWW aims to promote cross cultural exchange and reduce social isolation of women. BWW is run in partnership between the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre.
For women from newly arrived migrant and refugee communities and women from the wider community with an interest in developing skills, networks and friendships across cultures.
- To enhance community connectedness and strengthen local relationships by targeting a diverse range of newly arrived, culturally and linguistically diverse migrant and refugee women.
- Increase confidence, skills and knowledge of women involved.
- To increase social inclusion and decrease social isolation. This is achieved through promoting friendships and networks for the steering community and community members attending the lunch and dinner. It also empowers the steering community through the exchange of skills.
- BWW is run by two project coordinators from the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Spectrum.
- The Steering Committee includes 15 women who are involved in development, planning and organisation of events and activities. These women build capacity and foster ownership of the projects.
- One of the projects is ‘Let the Cultures Unite’ is a dinner event for over 300 women. This project has run for the past nine years.
- BWW is primarily funded by the Victorian State Government’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Unity Through Partnerships Grants Program. Sponsorship procured from Brotherhood of St Laurence and Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre also help make the project possible.
- In 2014-2015 the steering committee included 15 women, the lunches were attended by 40 women.
- The ‘Let the Cultures unite’ dinner event is now in its tenth year.
- BWW has been featured on an SBS news bulletin. See: SBS- Bridging Women’s Worlds
- The project locations rotate between Spectrum’s office sites (Darebin, Brimbank and Hume City Council areas) always generates an exceptional level of interest and maintains a high level of attendance.
- Received positive feedback about its events:
This was the first time I have been out without my husband or children, ever. I have never had this opportunity in my lifetime.
The event is considerably large and requires a significant lead time of approximately 6 months to stage. The event is therefore reliant upon funding, without which, it could not take place.
Advice for others
- Collaboration is a key to program sustainability
- Have a balance and mixture of women with varied skills sets and leadership skills on the committee.
- For the dinner, where possible target individuals who are most socially isolated. Women who are currently part of community groups already have linkages, networks and access to these events.
- Ensure a participatory approach to workshops that build committee capacity.
- A strengths-based practice framework is essential to enabling economic and social participation. Innovation in program design requires constant reflection and learning.
P: 8412 8700 (Elmina Joldic at Brotherhood of St Laurence)
P: 9301 7400 (Bogdana Poljak at Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre)