Cultural competence when working with CALD communities
There are certain things that you really need to consider while working with women from CALD backgrounds. Every woman should be taken as an individual. Certain things become very important taking time to explain concepts such as risk, safety, violence, becomes very important because she might not know what that means, engaging a female interpreter is very important the first few sentences will be really important to build trust and to engage with the woman. Women from CALD backgrounds are often reluctant to engage in direct and closed ended questions so you need to ask a lot of open ended questions to get more information. Often times she might use her own belief system and values in terms of minimising the abuse so you would acknowledge the differences you would have respect for their culture and her own value system yet reinforce laws and support systems in Australia. So it’s a delicate balance that you need to maintain to do it in a supportive way. A women from a CALD background might be in a situation where there are complex family dynamics, arranged marriages, forced marriages, in-laws, really adds to the complexity of the family dynamics and all the relationships that she might be in. Forced marriage is when a person, a woman or a man, is pressured into marrying another person without his or her consent. As a result of that there will be emotional, physical and psychological implications. In an arranged marriage, usually there is consent on the part of the couple, but a forced marriage is where there is no consent at all. However, there is a very grey area when we are talking about young girls, because young girls, without knowing their rights, and because they have grown to actually be very obedient, to their elders, to their parents in particular, they could give consent, but consent without understanding the whole situation, and without actually considering the fact that as children they have a right to choose. If you are talking about victims rights, this might be the first time that she has been exposed to victims rights, she might not have had similar experiences in her country of origin, so explaining different roles of activities and support systems is very important so women are empowered with information to access their own protection. While working with women from CALD backgrounds it is very important to know where she has come from so you would often ask questions about what her journey was like, Depending on which pathway she has come into the country, her needs and experiences could be very different. So knowing that pre-migration history becomes very important in terms of understanding her concerns. Sometimes a woman might be in a dependency visa, and there is a real fear about taking any steps due to repercussions on her stay. For example if a woman is on a spousal visa or a dependent visa then it is less likely that she would take any steps towards her own protection because of fear of deportation or fear of consequences on her immigration status. A lot of times this information would have been given by the perpetrator about the consequences on her visa, which might not be true, so you need to ask the woman the pathway they have come from, their length of stay in Australia, and the visa status. The most important thing while working with women from CALD background is giving a lot of time, ensuring that she understands what you are referring to and if you are referring to services, support services or court or police you need to explain their roles in depth, so she feels comfortable with the information. Referral to a specialist organisation for on-going support becomes very important so the woman can continue to have that support system in place for her future.