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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3548

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:12): In 2017 Gateway Health in Albury-Wodonga received $165,000, as part of Keeping Families Safe, the Building Safe Communities for Women program and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, to work with the emerging refugee communities of Albury-Wodonga. Today it gives me great pleasure to welcome to the parliament two members of the Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council. Nivanka and Rupinder, it's great to have you here. Rupinder is a survivor of domestic violence. She's been part of the 'That Girl' program and has helped me in preparing this speech. Thank you.

Rupinder tells me the 'That Girl' program was a series of workshops and discussion regarding domestic violence and where to go for help. It resulted in a Bollywood-style dance performance, prepared with powerful lyrics, about the value and role of women. The words are: 'That girl is your mother who gave you life, that girl is your daughter, that girl is your wife.' Rupinder tells me that family and domestic violence is often a very stigmatised issue. Survivors are often isolated and shunned and victims do not know where to go for help. For Rupinder this program was a ray of hope, a program where over 60 women aged between five and 70 came together to empower themselves with the aim of breaking the silence on domestic violence and creating sisterhood. She tells me that the highlights of the 'That Girl' program were an amazing product of teamwork from many groups, such as the Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council, Gateway Health and others. They had practice sessions where everyone shared food, and it was amazing to see the different age groups and backgrounds working together. On the final day, every participant wore colourful, traditional cultural dresses representing their background and individuality, and there was an amazing show—a spectacular show of colours, music, dance, fun and, most importantly, women working together. I would like to say to all those involved, 'Congratulations,' and give a special call out to: coordinator Tricia, 'Well done;' and to Gateway Health; the Albury-Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council; Bhakti, Priyanka and Minakshi from the Bhutanese and Indian communities; and Celestine, Vivian and Patrick from the Congolese community.

I have to say: in Indi, it's important that we keep all our families safe. I'm very proud of the work of my ethnic communities. I say, 'Well done.' And I acknowledge this work and funding from the Commonwealth government, and what a difference it makes to our rural communities when we have targeted programs specifically to meet our needs. Thank you very much, and for being volunteers in parliament today.