Whittlesea CALD Communities Family Violence Research Report 2012 - Page 55

54 The manual includes a section specifically looking at group work and CALD women. The major benefits to delivering culturally sensitive group work for CALD women who have experienced family violence cited are that CALD women feel more comfortable in a group setting as opposed to individual counselling with a stranger and engage more quickly with a facilitator who speaks their language and knows their culture. Group work is also seen as an effective way to ‘…facilitate the development of social networks for women isolated from their own or the wider community’(Women’s Health in the North, 2006, p.19). Responses from women interviewed for the project who were engaged with the Arabic speaking women’s group suggest that group work provides an antidote to social isolation, allows women to connect and share their experiences with other women in a safe environment and may also be a useful forum for the provision of information to women experiencing or at risk of experiencing family violence. In setting up and delivering groups for CALD women, Women’s Health in the North recommends avoiding the use of interpreters where possible and engaging bilingual/bicultural facilitators, particularly people who already have links with the community. They also recommend forming partnerships between agencies to share relevant skills and expertise, such as language expertise (Women’s Health in the North, 2006, p.18). Mentor models are identified in the literature as a potential model for addressing CALD women’s social isolation and facilitating engagement with services. The MOSAIC Project (Mother’s Advocates in the Community) was designed to pilot and evaluate whether mentors (who were themselves mothers) could improve the lives of pregnant women and their children who were experiencing family violence (Kerr, C., 2009, p.4). The MOSAIC study included women from CALD backgrounds, with about one third of women recruited for the study born overseas. (Taft et al, 2011, p.4) The women were referred into the program by their GP or Maternal Child Health Nurse. (Kerr, C., 2009, p.4) The MOSAIC project drew on research suggesting that peer support, mentoring and advocacy can assist women experiencing family violence and that pregnancy is a known risk factor for family violence (Kerr, C., 2009, p.5). In the evaluation there was evidence of a true difference in reduced partner violence in women who had been mentored (when compared to the control) but there was only weak evidence of other benefits such as reductions in depression and improvements in physical and mental well-being. (Taft et al, 2011, p.7) There were also some other reported benefits to mentored women which included twice the proportion of mentored women (32%) taking up new studies or training or returning to further training or education (Taft et al, 2011, p.5). Amongst the group of mentors recruited for the study were women from a diverse range of backgrounds who were fluent in a number of languages. It was suggested that if setting up a mentoring program in a diverse community in future it would be considered highly desirable to recruit bilingual mentors. However it was recommended that caution should be exercised in simply matching women on the basis of cultural background because some women do not wish to receive 57 mentoring from a woman of the same cultural background. 57 It was noted that women may fear their partner or ex-partner, family and friends finding out and in some situations a woman’s safety might be compromised. It was recommended that women be consulted before being matched with a mentor from the same cultural background. Kerr, C., (2009), MOSAIC: Mothers’ Advocates in the Community – Project Manual: Setting Up a Mentor Project for Mothers Experiencing Intimate Partner/Family Violence, Mother & Child Health Research, La Trobe University, Melbourne, p.10.