Refugee and migrant women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds caught up for a cup of tea at the Shepparton Friendship Café event on Wednesday, listening to a talk from guest speaker Dr Sarah Birrell Ivory about critical thinking.
It was Kim Chu’s first time at the Friendship Café. She said Dr Ivory’s talk was inspiring, helping them to decide where their next steps should take them and how to navigate a career. She said it also encouraged every single one of the women to pursue a future that they wanted for themselves.
Multicultural women faced many challenges, such as language barriers and different workplace cultures, which could undermine their confidence, Ms Chu said.
Dr Ivory discussed how in terms of critical thinking, the women could pursue equality in their homes, their parenting and in the workplace, developing a plan to achieve their goals.
Using the example of a woman with a strong Chinese accent, Dr Ivory described how she had gone on to be the leader of an international bank in London.
“It doesn’t really matter about your accent … it’s more about your thinking. If you have the right thinking and mindset you can be a leader,” Ms Chu said.
Some of the desires expressed at the event were less grandiose, but no less important; convincing a partner to take equal responsibility in raising children could be life-changing.
The Friendship Café is popular among new arrival women who may be experiencing social isolation.
Many such women don’t have friends when they first arrive in Shepparton. They may be stuck at home looking after kids, and when they do go out it is to work or TAFE, Ms Qazikhil said.
Friendship Café gives new arrival women the chance to sit down and have a cup tea and make friends with other multicultural women.
Ms Chu, who came to Australia two years ago, said she had a really good time and was looking forward to attending another guest speaker event with Friendship Café.
The events held by Friendship Café are also a great place for these women to practise their English in a safe and comfortable environment, Ms Qazikhil said.
“It doesn’t matter how wrong (in pronunciation) they are, there is always someone to help them,” she said.