A series of ‘Home Gatherings’ will take place within Melbourne Muslim communities this year as a group of women exchange information on family violence prevention and gender equality in safe, informal settings.
Muslim women leaders are sharing their new-found knowledge on family law, family violence and child protection, gained as part of the legal training program they completed with the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre in 2016.
Kauthar Abdulalim, held the first Home Gatherings event in April. Through her own organisation ‘HerProject’, she organised a high tea focused on empowering women, which received positive coverage from the ABC.
The ‘Home Gatherings’ program follows the Muslim Women’s Legal Training Program held in 2016, which equipped community leaders to assist women experiencing family violence or relationship breakdown. Female participants, identified as leaders from their own communities, were trained in identifying legal issues, relevant legal processes, women’s legal rights and how to connect with services. Both programs are funded by the Scanlon Foundation.
Program coordinator, Megan Tucker said: "The ripple effect of this program became quickly apparent. The women have formed a strong network, supporting each other to help vulnerable women in their communities."
The training has indeed had wide impact – one Imam enrolled in a PhD with Victoria University. A number of women from the group decided to undertake various courses and a public meeting was held among Muslim women to discuss ways to combat family violence.
The peer support model being used in Home Gatherings is ideal in reaching people when there may be cultural barriers to women’s participation in the public sphere.