Current innovative programs include:
- Parenting from the Heart
- Family Support Program - Mirrabooka & Meriwa
- Settlement Grants Program
- Multicultural Perinatal Support Program
- Child Birth Information and Education Service
- Antenatal Shared Care Service
- OWLS (Older Women’s Lifestyle) Program
- “Svadba” – a cultural exploration of the wedding.
Parenting from the Heart
Parenting from the Heart project experienced a huge success in the last financial year, and thus received further funding to continue through the next financial year. In the last financial year, this project created 20 partnerships with various national and international organisations, created job opportunities for bilingual workers and offered various beneficial workshops, training and activities for community members, parents, children and bilingual workers from CaLD backgrounds.
A series of Multicultural Playgroups was offered during this period and various activities highlighted the traditions of the different participating communities including songs, music and dances. The aim of these playgrousp was to involve parents and children in a creative environment. In these sessions, parents and children’s interaction was fostered by an experienced facilitator who involved them in various activities. The parents and children worked together to choose songs from their culture, and together with the music director and a community artist created the art work for the ‘Singing out of Tune’ CD. The CD included eight children songs and was launched in front of community members from twelve diverse communities. In December 2007 the children performed these songs and danced in front of a crwod of 100 people.
A Parenting Kit ‘The Parenting Education Community Kit’ was developed as part of this project and it involved interviewing, photographing, writing and developing training for bilingual and community workers. The Parenting Kit was published at the end of November 2007. The Kit includes the feed back, tips and strategies given by participants from the workshops, cultural fiestas, group discussions and interviews. This Kit will be a resource for community members and service providers, thus ensuring that the lasting effects of this program continue even after the funding period is over.
The parenting program continues to offer activities to families from CaLD backgrounds, to assist them with the invaluable work of bringing up children in a multicultural society. This year, the services of this program have been introduced to families in Merriwa.
The program involves:
- Workshops – Parenting, relationship & job search skills
- Multicultural play groups
- Consultations – Parents from different communities will participate in parenting forums to discuss the challenges of parenting in two cultures & the strategies they have used.
- Cultural events – cultural events involving dancing, games, story telling & food.
- Self Referral is available
- Assistance from bilingual workers is available
A free interpreter service is available through Translating & Interpreting Services (TIS) when required.
The program is funded by the Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and aims to economically empower migrant/refugee women, to increase social participation, impart health education and help women develop sustainable plans to continue their economic independence. This year the program has introduced other craft activities such as art on terracotta pots, fresh flower arranging, painting boxes and making artificial flowers.
These goals are being achieved initially through the employment of ten bilingual workers from the African, Middle East and Asian communities. They were provided with training in areas of interview skills, family values and women’s health and visited women in their communities. The participation of women in the classes is quite successful through self–referral, and referrals from other surrounding service providers such as social workers, psychologist as well as friends and neighbours.
In the span of the project, approximately 100 women have registered in the craft classes. Some women have been with the program since the beginning while others have left for employment or training or personal reasons and from time to time they drop in to see us.
The sewing and craft classes have two instructors, multiple machines, embroidery machines and overlockers, and the women have created some great products such as handmade cards (500), scarves, magic pillow (a quilt that folds down to a pillow), aprons and pot holders, skirts and tops, pillows, pillowcases, table runners and children’s clothing, kaftans, and some traditional African women’s clothing, knitting and embroidery. The women have pride of achievement amongst their peers in the class and are particularly happy when they take home the finished product to their family. The children’s on–site crèche and three carers provide quality time for the mothers in the knowledge that their children are well cared for and nourished.
An exhibition and sale of some of the products has given some women the experience and satisfaction of economic gain and pride of self-production. It is hoped to eventually set up a web sale page so that the women can experience a different avenue of selling the product and to continue the program.
In 2008 we commenced a partnership with Swan–Balga TAFE whereby seven women have enrolled in a course which is sponsored by the program to formalize their sewing skills in the form of a Certificate I in Soft Furnishing and a TAFE Certificate of two units assisting in work and communication for employment. This can also lead them to a Certificate III Level, which will give them greater opportunity for work. The women have also had information from The Royal Life Saving Association, Centrelink, TAFE, Employment professionals, Drug and Alcohol Authority and the Ishar Health Manager/Nurse on health issues.
The enthusiastic attendance of the women and their creativity and eagerness to learn is inspiring and a positive, happy and active atmosphere is present. When women are faced with huge social and environmental changes in their lives because of migration, war, illness and loss it is important that they maintain their self esteem and confidence. The Visiting Sisters Program is able to be part of that process.
Perinatal Support Program
This project is funded by the State Perinatal Mental Health Unit. CaLD women who are pregnant or have children under 3 years of age are invited or referred to this exciting informative program. The women meet weekly at Ishar for an 8 week program to learn new life skills, share existing skills and have fun. The project commenced in October 2008.
Child Birth Information and Education Service
Community Midwifery WA as the lead organisation and Ishar as its partner organisation were successful in receiving a Community Grant from OMI in 2007. This has led to the establishment of a pregnancy information and support service for newer arrival refugee women at Ishar which commenced in March 2008.
This service was initially provided by Anne Coutts (midwife) and then by Donna Stephens(midwife). The service is now provided by Nicole Roberts whose passion for the women she is working with has created a nurturing, safe environment for them to receive the personalised pregnancy support they are not able to access elsewhere. It is hoped this service will continue into the future.
Nicole is available at Ishar every Tuesday to assist pregnant women with one–to–one childbirth education and early parenting enquiries. An interpreter service is available for use in these sessions.
Healthy Active Carers
In 2007–2008 Let’s be Active project offered a range of activities to increase the level of participation in physical activity amongst CaLD Carers attending the Carers’ groups and increase knowledge and understanding of the health benefits related to physical activity. Carers experienced and enjoyed Laughter Yoga, Belly Dancing, Lawn Bowls, Badminton, Body Balance, Walking, Thai Chi and Interpretive Scarf Dancing.
The Department of Sport and Recreation provided an opportunity for Carers to improve their physical and mental health. Between April and June 2008, Carers experienced and enjoyed activities such as badminton and belly dancing.