Many organisations deliver services or run programs that are targeted at migrant or refugee women. However, to take a truly intersectional approach to choosing your audience, it’s important to understand the different lived experiences of the audience that you’re targeting.
Taking into consideration elements like: cultural identity, languages spoken, migration history and visa status, will ensure that your program has a strong foundation of understanding when it comes to the people you’re trying to reach. It will also ensure that you’re analysing your own organisational capability to deliver programs to this group in an informed and intersectional way.
Cultural Identity and Languages Spoken
First and foremost you must consider the cultural identity and languages spoken of the group you’re thinking of working with. It’s important to not conflate these two facets of identity, often these terms are used interchangeably but there is much difference. For example, Hindi and Arabic are spoken in more than 20 countries, so while many people may speak Hindi, they may have different and discrete cultural backgrounds. Similarly, Arabic speaking people may identify themselves as from an Arabic-speaking background, but may also have a different faith or religious following. Organisations need to consider the nuances behind these identities, and how people may differentiate themselves.
Migration History and Visa Status
The second important thing is migration history and visa status. Australia is predominantly made up of people who have come from somewhere else at some point. However, people come to this country in many different ways and have different migration stories. For example, someone fleeing their own country because of war may have a dramatically different migration experience as compared to someone visiting Australia on a tourist visa. Understanding these differences is important to understand where people are coming from and what they are carrying with them.
We all need a visa to enter Australia, but there are many different types of visas that will impact the way people experience life here. Humanitarian visas are given to people where there is war or geopolitical turmoil. People coming on those visas have access to certain resettlement services. If these people face financial turmoil or crisis, there is usually a touchpoint or referral service they can access.
People coming on other types of visas such as a working visa, or a spousal visa, do not automatically get linked to resettlement services or support service. This usually means that people on these types of visas can only access financial hardship support after they have reached crisis point.
In 2020, when the pandemic started, we saw a classic example of this. People on tourist or student visas found themselves locked in the country and unable to work, but also unable to access any government support payments. People were homeless or couldn’t afford to feed themselves because there was simply no safety net available to them. So different kinds of visas give access to different kinds of support services.
We can clearly see from these examples that it is important to know the visa status and migration history of your audience, because that will allow you to ensure you are giving them the correct support based on their circumstances and the services available.
This article was extracted from the Intersectional Financial Wellness video series which was produced as part of the Women’s Financial Capabilities Project led by WIRE in partnership with Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand, First Nations Foundation, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Women with Disabilities Victoria and Financial Counselling Australia. The Project is supported by the Victorian Government.