Submitted by: Tina Dixson, co-founder
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Queer Sisterhood Project is a refugee-led project aimed to provide support to LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women in Australia. This is the first Australian project to directly and specifically engage with LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women. The project is run by LGBTIQ refugees for LGBTIQ refugees.
We provide psycho-social support, individual advocacy as well as training and education for LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women in person and online (for example on sexual and reproductive health, career advice and job search, access to education and general wellbeing). We also offer referrals to relevant services to ensure that their needs are met.
An intersection of gender, sexual orientation and refugee status creates specific protection needs. For example, many LGBTIQ asylum seeking and refugee women in the project have experienced detention, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) or forced marriage. For these reasons we made a decision to only work with women to ensure that we are providing safer spaces to discuss those particular experiences.
In this way, the Queer Sisterhood Project enhances refugee self-reliance by enabling and empowering women to participate in social life, strengthen their agency and heal from the experiences of SGBV.
In addition, the Queer Sisterhood Project engages with host communities to ease pressure. We provide information and training in order to foster good relations and enhance understanding of the specific protection needs of LGBTQI refugees and asylum seekers.
This work includes development of brochures and videos as well as organising events. For example, in November 2019, we are organising the first Australian conference on the issues of LGBTIQ asylum to foster dialogues and whole of society approaches in finding solutions and responding to protection needs of LGBTIQ refugees. This conference brings together academics, policy makers, service providers and LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees. At this conference, LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees will comprise 1/3 of all speakers, to exemplify our efforts to ensure meaningful participation.
- Support and empower LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women.
- Address and meet protection needs of LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women.
- Support host communities through enhancing their knowledge of the plight of LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees.
Resources used include material (access to venues for meetings for instance, that is given to us pro-bono by a partner organisation) and financial (associated costs).
- LGBTIQ youth community organisation
- The Australian National University
How challenges were overcome
LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees experience additional challenges and specific protection needs. Often because of the lifelong persecution, discrimination and violence inflicted by authority figures and society, LGBTIQ asylum seekers and refugees remain cautious and discreet. An initial challenge with setting up the project was to get access to this group.
This challenge was overcome by allowing more time to build trust. Partnerships with an LGBTIQ youth community organisation gave a safe space for monthly meeting without the fear for members to be outed.
Results of the Good Practice
- Refugee-led support is provided to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) asylum-seeking and refugee women that is developed in partnership with refugees, delivered through the age, gender and diversity approach and meets protection needs of this group.
- Opportunities for meaningful participation for LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women are provided including through co-creation and co-design of educational materials for host communities.
- Host community’s knowledge about specific protection needs of LGBTIQ refugee women are enhanced through organisation of conferences, facilitation of training and development of education resources.
- Convening the first Australian conference on the issues of LGBTIQ asylum, Queer Displacements: Sexuality, Migration and Exile. (https://hrc.cass.anu.edu.au/events/queer-displacements-sexuality-migration-exile)
- Launching a video about the lived experiences of LGBTIQ asylum-seeking and refugee women aimed to raise awareness of host communities.