Inside the Trinity Uniting Church in Dandenong every Thursday afternoon we enjoy a thriving multicultural hub with Sudanese women from Darfur and Nuba Mountains spending the afternoon with members of the Jewish community. Relationships are developed through socialisation in a safe familiar environment, based on cultural exchange, friendship and trust. The Women’s Group represents a safe and friendly environment where both communities celebrate cultural events; and comfortably acknowledge their similarities and differences.
Through the Women’s Group participants continue to become self-sufficient and confident in their everyday life through improved English language, independent living skills and knowledge; and become confident and competent in a range of artistic skills and are able to identify an area to extend in on an individual basis.
Women’s Leadership Group
A group of 6-8 women attend the Women’s Leadership Group every Thursday morning.
Here the participants attend workshops in effective communication, emotional intelligence, current affairs and vocational skills and pathways. They gain knowledge of their rights and Australian culture; the Australian government system and infrastructure; and the understanding that through words and actions their voices can be heard.
While the women participate in their group, their pre-schoolers attend the children’s education program facilitated by 2 child care workers. Here the children are equipped with skills in confidence and socialisation; along with cognitive and emotional skills in a familiar space.
The child care room is based on a set routine and structure and include workshops run by external facilitators in yoga, music & movement and arts & crafts.
Stand Up’s women’s group aims to assist Sudanese women in learning new skills as well as improving their English literacy and confidence. We recently introduced jewellery making as another activity that is offered to our Women’s group. Stand Up brings a range of professional speakers to share their knowledge with the women based on participants’ interests.
“For me it is very important, I have had many years I want to learn to sew. For many years I’ve wanted to be a designer.”
The women who comprise this group are amongst some of the most vulnerable members of the Victorian community. They have been in Australia for between 2-8 years, placing many them beyond the settlement services period. Approximately half the participants originate from Darfur and half originate from the Nuba Mountains, communities that have been traditionally hard to reach. Additionally, most of the women attending the sewing group have 3-4 children each, many of whom are able to attend because Stand Up provides professional childcare.
“It was amazing to see the women sit and gossip and laugh at, and with, each other like I would with my girlfriends. I felt like I was with my own girlfriends doing something fun and exciting. Their enthusiasm to learn and encourage each other is infectious. I can’t wait for my next session with the women.”
What:The Women’s group meet weekly for skills development, socialising and English practice
Where:Trinity Church Dandenong
When: Thursday afternoons
“I love coming to the sewing group once a week as I like sewing and always learn something new. I meet other Sudanese women and we chat in Arabic and also practice English with the volunteers. We learn other craft work besides sewing and have made cushions using different techniques and pencil cases, children’s bags, baby booties and greeting cards. We sold some of these crafts at a market. There is also trained childcare worker to look after the children while we sew”.
– Entisar, women’s group participant
Mount Scopus-Stand Up Kitchen Garden Partnership
In 2013 Stand Up launched an exciting new partnership with the Mount Scopus College Kitchen Garden program. On Wednesdays, Years 4, 5 and 6 students prepare nutritious and tasty meals from the Scopus Kitchen Garden and each week a portion of the food that is prepared by the students goes to Stand Up’s Women’s group. Mount Scopus students learn about Sudanese culture, the issue of refugees and asylum seekers and a little about the issue of food security and scarcity. On Thursdays, our Sudanese women get to sample the food prepared for them (often food they have not tasted before) and learn about nutrition.