Women’s Health West is on the lookout for women from Pasifika and Polynesian communities to join its 2017 migrant and refugee program.

The ‘Our Community, Our Rights’ program has been running since 2011, focusing on a different migrant community in Melbourne’s west each year and helping with advocacy and education for both new migrants and those who have been in Australia long-term.

The program has previously focused on migrants from South Sudan, Burma, India and the Horn of Africa.

WHW health promotion and project co-ordinator, Hope Mathumbu, said programs like this were particularly important for refugee and migrant women who may not be aware of their legal rights while also facing structural disadvantages when settling in Australia.

“Programs like this are really important in terms of giving women a platform to advocate for themselves,” Ms Mathumbu said.

“It’s a human rights, leadership and advocacy program that gives people the chance to take control of issues that affect their community and a platform to make a direct change.”

Ms Mathumbu said the program would address broad issues for migrants as well as those specific to the Pasifika and Polynesian communities, such as recent changes to visas for New Zealanders.

“Every migrant has different issues, but there were changes made to the Special Category Visa recently that directly impact on New Zealand migrants so that will be a big focus,” Ms Mathumbu said.

“There are different issues for people at different stages of migration, so we’ll be informed by community consultation with what we address.

“We’ll be having a number of workshops and work with agencies in the west to help everyone in the program.”

Women’s Health West is hoping for 12-15 participants to join this year’s program, which also offers lunch, childcare and reimbursement of travel costs.

People interested can contact Hope Mathumbu at hope@whwest.org.au or call 9689 9588.