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Connected Women

Comfort, support, and friendship – see how Connected Women is helping migrant women in the NT feel safe and valued.

The Darwin Red Cross office is alive with activity. There’s sewing classes happening in one room, where women proudly show off the creations they’ll model at a fashion show at the end of the month. Nearby, unique designs come to life in a jewellery making workshop. Make-up tips and tricks are shared in another room. There’s food, laughter, and children playing. 

Connected Women is a program run in the Northern Territory to help migrant women make connections, learn new skills, and thrive in their new home. Most have moved thousands of kilometers and arrive not knowing anyone and speaking little English. This is a place where they can feel safe, supported, and valued. 

You learn new things. It’s a bond, it’s a lifetime bond that you create here. I feel like I’m coming back home when I come back here.

Preethi, Connected Women participant and volunteer

Photo: Dilini Perera

Preeti came to Australia from India as a young mum, looking for better opportunities for her and her family. A qualified accountant back home, when she first arrived she didn’t know anyone and struggled to find work as her qualification and work history wasn’t recognised by local employers. She found Connected Women whilst looking for volunteer opportunities – and whilst she started as a participant, she quickly became a volunteer, helping to run the program activities and supporting other women like herself. 

With support from the program, she found work in her field, and is now in the process of setting up her own business. The bonds she formed at Connected Women have changed her life. 

“When you come to a new place you have to re-establish yourself, you have to start from the scratch and that can be a bit stressful and depressing.  But when you have a support from other women who are also facing similar issues so that gives you that confidence to come out of it.” 

“You make new friends and the people who come here are absolutely beautiful really. I met a lot of people, a lot of women who are beautiful, talented. They are smart. They are capable. Even to move somewhere in just pursue a better life I think you should be really brave.” 

Inna, program coordinator 

“Here we are doing some programs that are giving guidance how to start a new business, how do their own thing, and we are making some networks for them.” 

Sarani, project officer 

“If a mother comes into our classes and she enjoys them with us, she’s going home with a very happy mood. So, I think it impacts their whole family.” 

Harshi, project officer 

“Connected Women is perfect for newbies who come to Australia and don’t know where to go and no family or they miss their family. This is perfect because you can relate to women, other women. They bring food and the food that they bring it’s very similar to what you have in your country.” 

Lee, workshop facilitator 

Connected Women is about bringing migrant women together to form bonds and support networks with each other – but it’s also about helping them feel connected to their new home. The program works with local First Nations’ groups to help the women learn about the history of the land on which they now live and be welcomed to Larrakia Country. 

Our wonderful First Nations [community] welcomes all migrants and international students to this land, not as a guest but as a part of this land, as they are sisters and brothers.

Sabeeha, State Lead

Photos: Dilini Perera

They also regularly run wider community events, like The Power of Many Colours Festival. Connected Women teams up with other migrant support groups and international student support groups to put on a showcase of the wonderful and diverse cultures in the NT. There’s dances and cultural performances, great food, and the opportunity for these brave women to be celebrated. 

It's the beauty of big events that we can show the rest of the community how beautiful our women are, how smart they are, how talented they are, that they are actually capable to do whatever they want. They can achieve whatever they want. It just with maybe a little help in the very beginning we really can move mountains.

Inna, Program Coordinator