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Migrant women Australia's hidden asset

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21 March 2012

Migrant Women Act, by Olga Bursian
Migrant Women Act, by Olga Bursian

Current public debates on immigration and refugees are distorting the positive influence migrant women are having on Australian society, according to a new book to be launched next week.

The author of Migrant Women Act, Monash University academic Dr Olga Bursian said research showed migrant women were active participants in Australian society, helped create safe and nurturing neighbourhoods, and were able to transform vulnerable communities. 

Migrant Women Act, produced by Commonground Publishers, tells the stories of 30 women from the Horn of Africa, Vietnam, the former Soviet Union, the Phillipines and Lebanon who have rebuilt their lives in Melbourne. 

Their narratives are illuminated by research evidence, and the surrounding theoretical discussions are conveyed through accessible language.

Dr Bursian said the women's stories demonstrated the value of migration to Australian society. 

"While immigrant women are most often perceived in various shades of negativity or deprivation, my research shows that it is often the most resilient and competent who can successfully relocate to another country," Dr Bursian said. 

"Thus Australia has benefitted by attracting some of the best citizens from around the world. 

"I felt I needed to share the women’s narratives because discourses from the media about immigrants and of multiculturalism are more often than not distorted or simply untrue.

"The book is pitched at the thinking public, professionals and decision makers in the multicultural and social policy fields.  It thus endeavours to bridge the divide between academia and public and political debate about contemporary social issues"

Dr Bursian, who worked as the manager of a migrant resource centre, said the book provided evidence that specialist immigrant support programs funded from the public sector, were low cost investments in ensuring the basic standards of living expected by the general public. 

Migrant Women Act will be launched by Pino Migliorino, Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia, and Adjunct Professor Jacques Boulet of the Borderlands Co-operative, at 6.30pm, on Wednesday 28 March, at Readings book shop, 309 Lygon Street, Carlton.

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