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 kilometres and arrive not knowing anyone and speaking little English. This is a place where they can feel safe, supported, and valued.
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.”
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