Refugee and migrant women’s stories to freedom showcased in new art exhibition

Published 24 April 2019
stories to freedom exhibition A selection of photographs and artwork from the Stories to Freedom exhibition.

Starting over in a new country can be an exciting yet terrifying opportunity. In a new art exhibition, opening on Friday April 26, migrant and refugee women reflect on their experiences of making Australia home.

Film, photography, textiles and creative arts are featured in the Stories to Freedom exhibition which opens on the Gold Coast before showing in Coffs Harbour and Lismore.

Stories to Freedom captures the richness and experiences of the participants of the 3Es to Freedom program for migrant and refugee women which is run by Anglicare North Coast. Southern Cross University partnered with Anglicare from a research perspective by way of films, journal articles and conference presentations.

The 3Es in the 3Es to Freedom stand for Education, Employment and Empowerment.

Helena, who came to Australia from Iran, said the program bolstered her confidence navigating a culture completely different to the one she grew up in.

“The great thing about being a woman in Australia is that you can do everything like driving, riding bikes and opportunities for different jobs,” Helena said.

“The 3Es to Freedom program is helping me find the best path forward for my future.”

Roslyn Felsch from Anglicare North Coast said the program supported women to access education and training to pursue sustainable work of their choice; and while education and employment were obvious components of 3Es to Freedom, empowerment was crucial.

“Our migrant and refugee participants are most eager to learn our Australian ways – so we schedule activities which expand on their exposure to experience what Australian women enjoy,” said Ms Felsch said.

“We can build on their understanding of the law and the statutory systems in place to protect a woman and her children’s right to safety.”

Southern Cross researchers Dr Mandy Hughes, Dr Louise Whitaker and Professor Barbara Rugendyke have partnered with Anglicare North Coast on 3Es to Freedom since 2016.

“Reflection and research underpins the 3Es to Freedom program,” said sociologist Dr Mandy Hughes, whose PhD investigated the social and cultural role of food for refugees.

“In conjunction with Anglicare North Coast, Southern Cross University has identified key learnings and best practice with working with refugee and migrant women. It’s a powerful program that is having significant impact in our communities.”

Dr Louise Whitaker said the program’s benefits resonated beyond the lives of the participants.

"Collaborating on the 3Es program has been such a rich experience. It’s been a great opportunity to welcome women from refugee backgrounds and work alongside them and Anglicare to learn about fostering inclusive regional communities,” said Dr Whitaker who is course coordinator of the social welfare degree.

Professor Barbara Rugendyke agreed.

“It has been a joy and privilege to play a small part in supporting this wonderful project and these creative exhibitions which build understanding of newcomers to our local and regional communities and of the struggles which brought them here,” said Professor Rugendyke.

“They speak to the diversity and new life brought to our communities through their presence. The dignity, character and fortitude of these remarkable women is revealed in their stories of healing and hope.”

 

Stories to Freedom Exhibition

The artworks featured in each exhibition is unique, reflecting the experiences of migrant and refugee women living in different regions.

GOLD COAST - NORTH

Helensvale Cultural Centre, Sir John Overall Drive & Lindfield Rd, Helensvale QLD 4212

April 29 to May 3, 2019

Opening night: 5pm – 6.30pm, Friday April 26

Two films will be screened on opening night:

  • ‘Stories to Freedom’: a snapshot of the women and the activities they participate in across the three sites;
  • ‘Do You See All of Me?’: features 21 of the 3Es to Freedom participants who now live on the Gold Coast.

 

GOLD COAST - SOUTH

Southern Cross University Library, Gold Coast Campus, Ground Floor, Building C, Southern Cross Drive, Bilinga QLD 4225 (next to Gold Coast Airport)

May 6 to 31, 2019

Two films will be screened daily:

  • ‘Stories to Freedom’: a snapshot of the women and the activities they participate in across the three sites;
  • ‘Do You See All of Me?’: features 21 of the 3Es to Freedom participants who now live on the Gold Coast.


COFFS HARBOUR

Coffs Harbour Regional Museum, 215 Harbour Drive, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450

May 17 to June 22, 2019

Opening night: 6pm, Friday May 17

  • Opening night includes the film screening ‘Stories to Freedom’: a snapshot of the women and the activities they participate in across the three sites;

 

RICHMOND TWEED

Lismore Regional Art Gallery, 11 Rural Street, Lismore NSW 2450

May 23 to 30, 2019

Opening night: 6pm, Thursday May 23

  • Opening night includes the film screening ‘Stories to Freedom’: a snapshot of the women and the activities they participate in across the three sites

 

Media contact: Sharlene King 0429 661 349 or scumedia@scu.edu.au