A safe space for young women

May 10, 2018

Elizabeth Awan, Manal Al-Bardi, Egla Hasankolli, mayor Kim O’Keeffe, Bella Saidi, Aqilah Sulaiman, Esraa Doush and Yusra Syamsuri.

Women from a range of cultural backgrounds gathered in Shepparton on Tuesday morning, to have a cuppa and share in friendly conversation.

The Friendship Cafe, an initiative funded by the Victorian Government’s Department of Justice and Regulation, provides a safe space for young women from new and emerging communities to connect and integrate into the wider community.

The session was the 10th of 12 cafes planned to run, and Ethnic Council of Shepparton project co-ordinator Sam Atukorala said it had been a huge success.

‘‘The cafes focuses on socially isolated and disadvantaged young women between 13 and 25,’’ he said.

‘‘It allows them to connect, learn and grow so they can feel empowered to achieve whatever they want to.’’

More than young 25 women engaged in open conversation with Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Kim O’Keeffe, listening to her own personal story and learning more about the Shepparton area.

Mr Atukorala said the initiative encouraged women to participate in community activities which foster interpersonal connectedness and help to develop their sense of cultural identity.

Each of the cafes are run in an informal setting, allowing the women to learn from leaders in the community in a comfortable atmosphere.

‘‘It is a wonderful opportunity to see what these women’s aspirations are so we can support them in any way,’’ Cr O’Keeffe said.

‘‘We can also share the opportunities that Greater Shepparton has for them as far as successful outcomes.’’

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