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Working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities (Victoria)

Australia is a culturally and linguistically diverse society. Nearly one in two of us are first or second generation Australians, and nearly one in five speak a language other than English at home. Find out how Our Watch supports communities to prevent violence in ways that work for different community contexts.

Why work with culturally and linguistically diverse communities?

Violence against women and their children occurs across the whole of Australian society and is not restricted to any one group. All women and children, regardless of cultural identity, ethnicity, religion or language, have the right to live without the fear or reality of violence.

Women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities can face specific challenges. In addition to gender discrimination, they can experience discrimination on the basis of skin colour, religious affiliation, ethnic origin and other identity characteristics such as dress codes. 

Some women who are newly-arrived to Australia from migrant or refugee backgrounds may face even greater challenges such as:

  • a lack of established family networks, support systems and community structures
  • dealing with the distress of refugee displacement and prior experiences of torture and trauma 
  • language barriers and social isolation that can limit awareness of rights and available services
  • uncertainty or fear around visa or immigration status
  • differences in cultural beliefs and practices regarding respectful and equitable relationships between men and women.
Shame or fear of exclusion from communities can also make it difficult to talk about violence and seek help, and this is even more pronounced when coupled with geographic isolation or socio-economic disadvantage.

Tailoring violence prevention initiatives

We know that gender inequality and rigid gender stereotyping are two of the key drivers of violence against women across society in general. But the intersection of these factors with other issues that can be faced by women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities can compound the risk, experience and impact of violence.

The design of programs needs to respond to these different experiences if they are to be effective. Programs must also be informed and led by communities themselves by drawing on community knowledge, leadership and strengths. 

Prevention calls for a universal, nationwide approach, in which a range of mutually-reinforcing strategies are tailored to the contexts and needs of different groups. There is also a need for specific and intensive effort with communities affected by multiple forms of disadvantage and discrimination, or experiencing the cumulative impact of many negative factors.


In 2015, with Victorian Government funding, Our Watch contracted two community organisations to work, at a community level, with local culturally and linguistically diverse communities on prevention of violence against women.

Our Watch commissioned the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University, to conduct an independent evaluation of this project, you can read the report here.

Concurrently, Our Watch led a collaborative approach to the development of a toolkit for practitioners, for use by organisations wishing to engage communities to prevent violence against women. Read the Community based prevention of violence against women and their children: A toolkit for practitioners

Read about "Team Respect" a respectful relationships soccer program for newly arrived Iranian men, facilitated by Our Watch local partners in Whittlesea, Victoria. See more at SBS

The Prevention of Violence against Women and their Children in Culturally Linguistically Diverse Communities project was funded by the State Government of Victoria under Victoria’s Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children 2012–2015.