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Left Behind: Migrant and Refugee Women’s Experiences of COVID-19

As the result of 12 months of work by multilingual health educators, employed by the WOMHEn project (funded by Jobs Victoria), we were able to undertake over 70 interviews with migrant and refugee women to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. The experiences shared in these interviews follow a key theme: migrant and refugee women felt left behind in pandemic response and support. With increased financial insecurity, care responsibilities and emotional strain, the pandemic had a profound impact on the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of migrant and refugee women. In their own words, this report tells the story of a community who felt forgotten and were ultimately reliant on each other for support and information.

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In the Media

As Victoria nears its vaccination target there are fears migrant women could be left behind – from ABC News, Ashleigh Barraclough: “As Victoria edges closer to its 80 per cent vaccination target, multicultural groups have called on the state government to continue a key outreach program that’s been helping hard-to-reach communities get vaccinated. Funding for the Workforce of Multilingual Health Educators project ran out this month. The initiative by Gender Equity Victoria, the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, and Women’s Health Services has so far helped more than 1,800 migrant and refugee women in Victoria access health education and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Extreme impacts of COVID on migrant, refugee women – from Broad Agenda, Adele Murdolo: “Migrant and refugee women, particularly those who live in disadvantaged areas, make up one of these groups of concern. Over-represented in essential services such as aged care, cleaning, retail and manufacturing, migrant and refugee women are at greater risk of COVID-19 infection. Sadly, people born overseas make up more than half of all cases in Victoria, and women are well represented in those numbers.

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