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Refugee-background Communities Welcome Campaign

For Immediate Release

Refugee-background Communities Welcome Wellington Family Violence Campaign

A new campaign against family violence has been welcomed by ChangeMakers Refugee Forum.

The campaign will be launched today and features two representatives from Wellington's refugee-background community.

'We need to educate and we can't wait' says Faduma Moallin, leader of the Somali community and who features in campaign posters.

Family violence occurs across all religious and cultural groups - regardless of ethnicity or citizenship. However, international research has found that immigrant families experience higher incidences of family violence than their 'local' counterparts, and there is increasing awareness about the heightened risk of family violence faced by refugee-background women.

Faduma Moallin, a staunch anti-violence advocate, says 'There is no culture that allows this. There is no religion. This is abuse. Full stop.'

Refugee women and children have been identified by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as one of the most vulnerable groups in the world. Family violence can be a result of compounding stressors such as past torture and trauma, the pressures of resettlement in an unfamiliar culture, changes to family structures, financial problems, discrimination, isolation, and difficulties in accessing essential services.

John Aloro, leader of the Sudanese community, also features in the campaign and says 'Everyone has the right to a peaceful coexistence - saying sorry after doesn't change the fact that damage has been done.'

The Wellington campaign includes a website of services that can make it easier for people who are living with violence to get help. 'Being silent makes it worse. You can only demand more in your life by asking for help' says John Aloro.

'Women from refugee backgrounds may not report violence for many

reasons: fear of what might happen - with little English and lack of good employment options - if they leave; not wanting to bring shame on their communities or be ostracised; or for the simple fact that they don't know there are organisations that can help,' ChangeMakers research coordinator Alia Bloom said.

'We need to raise awareness within refugee-background communities about services, explain family violence law in New Zealand, and let people know they have the right to seek support and live free from violence. We also need services to connect with refugee-background families, and build their own understanding of the unique, compounding factors that can lead to the vulnerability of refugee-background families to violence.'

ChangeMakers Refugee Forum is a non-profit refugee advocacy and community development organisation in Wellington. ChangeMakers is a member of the Te Rito Family Violence Network.

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