Helping women connect in Doveton  

A simple ‘Chat and Chai’ session has become an ongoing opportunity for women from the multicultural community to connect.  

Understanding community needs

Many multicultural women from the Doveton community often seek opportunities to meet new people and develop new friendships. Newly arrived families, in particular, are often seeking information about community services, particularly resettlement support.  

Working collaboratively with partners and community

When a mother of 5 (soon to be 6), who is an active member of Doveton College, reached out to the Our Place Community Facilitators and informed them that she works for the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights (AMWCHR), the Community Facilitators were keen to explore partnership opportunities.  

The Community Facilitators learnt that AMWCHR provides resettlement and case management support and facilitates community development workshops. Knowing the needs within the Doveton community well, the Community Facilitators instantly saw the value in partnering with AMWCHR to deliver an on site information session. After further discussions with the mother from Doveton College and AMWCHR, an informal and causal ‘Chat and Chai’ session was arranged.  

Creating opportunities for connection

To ensure the session was accessible by the community, the community facilitators arranged for its delivery to be at a time that would not clash with adult English classes and other on site activities. This resulted in 28 women attending the session.  

The ‘Chat and Chai’ session allowed attendees to learn about AMWCHR as an organisation and hear about the support they offer. More importantly, it provided the women with a chance to connect. During the session, many conversations were had, with the main topic being parenting and expectations in Australia. Many of the ladies also expressed their desire to make friends and felt that future and regular sessions such as this would assist them in doing so.  

Taking this feedback on board and knowing about the many benefits that opportunities for connecting bring to the community, the Community Facilitators turned their attention to setting up regular and informal on site catch-up sessions for women. These efforts have now resulted in the delivery of free weekly Women’s Friendship Café (WFC) sessions.  

The WFC seeks to ensure that the group is driven by the goals and needs of participants and will continue to evolve alongside them. The sessions will be facilitated by AMWCHR and are open to any women within the community. The Community Facilitators will also attend the sessions to help facilitate discussions and have been working alongside the school and the adult English classes to help spread the word and encourage participation. The first session aims to hear from the women about their areas of interest, and future guest speakers and activities will then be arranged accordingly. 

 Aligning with the Our Place Approach 

This is one example of how Our Place plays the role of ‘The Glue’ to engage and support the community. Utilising insights gained directly from the community, Our Place has responded to these needs by leading a partnership with a local services provider, engaging the community by providing activities and opportunities for connection, working with on site partners to provide appropriate spaces for services and opportunities to be delivered on site and ensuring these spaces enable community members to feel welcome in the school environment.