The COVID pandemic has prompted a marked increase in the number of women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities seeking specialist Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) case management in the St George region.
This shift has highlighted the need to educate people in the CALD community that:
DFV includes any behaviour, in an intimate or family relationship, which is violent, threatening, coercive or controlling, causing a person to live in fear and to be made to do things against their will. This includes stalking, intimidation, unwanted sex or sexual acts and emotional abuse, and breaking ADVOs – Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (sometimes called AVOs or restraining orders).
Men can also be victims of DFV.
While many instances of DFV go unreported, there are safe supports for people encountering DFV who do step forward to report it.
Advance Diversity Services has been working with local DFV service providers to help ensure they are equipped to respond to disclosures of DFV from people from CALD backgrounds in ways that are both culturally sensitive and ensure people’s safety.
Grants from Women NSW (in partnership with Moving Forward) and from the Australian Chinese Charity Foundation Inc (ACCF) and a partnership with Moving Forward, the St George and Sutherland Domestic Violence Service, St George Police and Settlement Service International (SSI) have assisted this work.
‘COVID has been a perfect storm for victims of DFV,’ says Magdaline Shenton-Kaleido, ADS Team Leader, Emerging Communities, Settlement and Community Services. ‘Many victims are spending more time with the perpetrator of violence – either because they are working at home or have lost their employment, which results in more opportunities for abuse.
‘We’re working with specialist DFV services to ensure victims from CALD backgrounds who do come forward are equipped with the information they need to understand their rights, make informed decisions, and secure the best and safest support for themselves and their children.’
Ms Shenton-Kaleido said there are many reasons victims from CALD backgrounds may not seek support and especially during COVID times.
These can include:
The sense that there is reduced accessibility of support services due to social distancing.
Increased situational stressors which make it harder for them to reach out.
Fears that taking action could jeopardize residency (temporary visas). For example, a fear that they will be ‘sent back home’ and any children of the union will be forced to remain with the abuser.
Limited English and not wishing to use professional interpreters or not having them available.
Cultural, religious factors.
Fears of family and community reprisals.
Limited understanding of the rights, protections and legal processes in Australia.
ADS’ role includes:
Providing information and referrals to DFV service providers and counselling services.
Promoting positive family relationships through workshops and other media (view the We’re Better Than That video on Youtube at bit.ly/mio-2020)
Offering orientation activities for communities to understand and access mainstream Australian services, including legal and other outreach services.
Ms Shenton-Kaleido said: ‘Warm referrals between ADS’ frontline bicultural workers and specialist DFV service providers definitely helps clients feel supported and provides a sense of cultural safety and continuity. It also builds trust with the specialist services quickly for timely and appropriate responses. It’s a great collaboration model!’
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing DFV, you can get help on the NSW Domestic Violence website or by contacting ADS on T: 02 9597 5455 or E: email@example.com
If you are in immediate danger call the police on 000
For 24/7 support, information and counselling call:
NSW Domestic Violence line on 1800 65 64 63
Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
ADS is proud to be an inclusive service and this partnership with Queer Screen, as part of MGFF, continues its work to inform culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people about LGBTIQA+ individuals and communities.
‘Goodbye Mother (directed by Trịnh Đình Lê Minh) is a universal tale everyone can connect with,’ says ADS Executive Officer Antoinette Chow. ‘The visual nature of film also makes it a great medium through which to raise awareness in the community – and particularly CALD audiences – about LGBTIQA+ community issues.
‘We also felt it was important to bring the film to the St George area of Sydney so that it would be accessible to the local population we work with.’
Goodbye Mother traces the story of Van (Lanh Thanh) who is the prodigal son who returns from the United States to Vietnam with plans to introduce his boyfriend, Ian (Võ Điền Gia Huy), to his mother (Hong Dao). When he learns his mother is ill, he is faced with the dilemma of how to honour his family responsibility but also to freely lead the life he has chosen with integrity.
The film won the Reeling Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival 2020 Best Narrative Feature Filmand also the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival 2020 Audience Award. It is in Vietnamese with English subtitles.
Before the Hurstville screening of Goodbye Mother, there will also be a short talk by a representative from ACON’s Asian Gay Men youth project, which helps younger gay men from Asian cultural backgrounds take control of their health by providing a range of programs, workshops, resources and events.
The $10 tickets are only available at the Hurstville screening and you can book them here.
MGFF21 is also inviting people to create their own LGBTIQ+ film festival experience. In Sydney, along with more than 60 cinema screenings on offer, the MGFF is offering online and on-demand screenings across Australia for the first time. To in-cinema and in-home viewers MGFF21 is providing the best LGBTIQ+ cinema from around the world.
“Goodbye Mother is just one of many great options for people to view during MGFF21,” says Ms Chow. “We’ve partnered with Queer Screen to encourage people in our communities to connect with narratives that will support them if they’re coming out and enhance their understanding if they’re unsure about the issues faced by LGBTIQ+ people.’
A new video launched by Advance Diversity Services offers insights into the struggles faced by LGBTIQA+ people of faith from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds as they try to reconcile their faith, culture and queer identity, and to find service providers that understand the complexity of their predicament.
The Pride in My Faith video is a vital educational resource for community and other service providers and was conceived and produced by ADS Manager for Settlement and Community Services, Anthony Scerri, and ADS LGBTI Officer, Mayna Hung.
‘We wanted to show LGBTIQA+ people of faith from CALD backgrounds who are struggling with these challenges that they are not alone,’ said Ms Hung. ‘Pride in My Faith offers candid testimony from three CALD LGBTIQA+ people of faith about how they bring their sexual diversity, faith and culture together.’
Mr Scerri said religion and culture are often entwined, which meant LGBTIQA+ people from CALD backgrounds can feel rejected by their religion or may cease practising a religion altogether due to its conflict with their sexual minority status.
‘The video demonstrates that there are LGBTIQA+ people from CALD backgrounds who have felt this rejection but ultimately found concord between their religion and their sexuality and are living their lives with spiritual purpose.’
Ms Hung said service providers needed to understand the complexity of the barriers to inclusion LGBTIQA+ people from CALD backgrounds face and also how to welcome them appropriately and refer them to groups and specialist services for support.
‘Through Pride in My Faith we highlight a range of LGBTIQA+ faith-based groups that LGBTIQA+ people can connect with. Some of these groups are outlined in the LGBTIQA+ Services Directory ADS has developed, and which can accessed here.’
The three people who shared their stories onscreen are: Ahmed a gay, cisgender (male) Muslim from a Pakistani background; Tina (pictured) a bisexual, cisgender (female) Buddhist from a Bengali and Afghan background, and Matthew a bisexual, cisgender (male) Roman Catholic from a Chinese Malaysian background.
Ahmed said that in the Muslim community there was now more visibility of queer Muslims who were talking about being accepted. ‘That being said,’ he added ‘a vast majority of people have homophobic views and that is something we have to overcome over time.’
Tina said it was important for people to know a little about how trauma works – to understand how to identify their own trauma and make an action plan to ensure it does not continue to have a negative impact.
Matthew said referring people to groups and service providers was ‘not always a bad idea’, and that connecting people to an organisation so they can see there ‘are people like them’ was really important.
Part of the funding from the NSW Settlement Partnership (NSP) also included rolling out general LGBTIQA+ inclusive practice training to NSP organisations. ACON’s Pride Training team facilitated four, two-part webinars attended by 81 staff from across the partnership in October 2020.
At the end of the training participants were asked ‘What would be the next steps that on a personal level you are going to take towards inclusion and diversity?’
One respondent said, ‘You realise how people are being left out – from service promotion to intake to feedback – and that we need to review every aspect of our services delivery to ensure inclusive practice.’
Another said, ‘I will share my knowledge and understanding with my clients and other community members. I will also amend policy and procedure, develop new intake forms, and provide a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment.’
Mr Scerri said the Pride in My Faith video plus ACON’s eLearning and webinars would help service providers to better understand the communities they serve, and to be equipped to work with LGBTIQA+ people in ways that were supportive and empowering rather than damaging.