YWCA’s Growing Horizons program, which provides support, social connection, skill development and referral pathways to women from African communities, has sadly finished its funding contract and will be winding up at the end of July.
Growing Horizons has been running in Adelaide, South Australia, for six years. It has helped over 70 women and their families by providing crucial case management (often interpreted for the participant), community activities to reduce isolation and loneliness, essential training (first aid, water safety), assistance accessing medical services (breast and cervix screening) and more.
Program Coordinator, Tsige Girmay emigrated to Australia from Ethiopia in 1996. She speaks three languages and has made the program the success it is today. The best part for Tsige is the personal growth in the women over the last six years. She says the women are more confident, empowered, and independent and have developed their English skills through involvement in the program.
“We used to provide interpreters to participants to communicate in the first 2 years of the program; now, we haven’t used interpreters for the last four years because the program participants have developed their English skills well enough to be able to communicate in English with each other and me.”
Migrant women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds experience more frequent and severe discrimination than culturally and linguistically diverse men and white women who speak English as their native language. They are less likely to be employed than culturally and linguistically diverse men, often due to low English skills and caring responsibilities. Services like Growing Horizons, which work with women with intersecting identities, are essential to closing this gap.
An invaluable impact
Without this program, participants like Nitsuh are concerned with how they are going to cope.
Nitsuh says without the program, she and her family would’ve struggled indefinitely. Nitsuh was referred to the program in early 2020 for support with her two autistic children. One of Nitsuh’s children was eligible to access the NDIS, but Nitsuh struggled to connect with service providers and access entitlements due to language barriers. Growing Horizons acted as the language intermediary and helped Nitsuh and her family access much-needed support.
“It is going to be hard the replace the support I received through Growing Horizons,” says Nitsuh. “Having that language support whenever I needed it was such a massive help. I wish the program would continue.”
YWCA will reapply for funding next financial year in the hope of reactivating this essential, life-changing program.