Women’s Health and Safety Roundtable

It was an honour to be one of the many women invited to the 13th roundtable for ‘Women’s Health and Safety’ held by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon. Marise Payne. With representatives from across Western Sydney including from health and disability, family and domestic violence and legal sector, this opportunity allowed the attendees to capture and gain insight about the challenges and gaps in support to all women, Western Sydney being a diverse melting pot. Consider stat about Western Sydney multicultural demographic. 

The focus of this roundtable was women’s health and safety in Western Sydney and the impacts of COVID-19.

This meeting was an opportunity to raise directly with the Minister some of the critical challenges that have been facing women from refugee and CALD backgrounds in the Liverpool area and hear from other female leaders in the sector.  

I used this platform to discuss the gaps that presented themselves to our team at Western Sydney MRC relating to Women’s Health throughout the past few months – further amplified by the impacts of COVID-19 disruption. The MRC has seen a spike in concerns relating to digital literacy and access to technology for refugee mothers with young children. Included in this are their ability to access up-to-date health information, access to services as they have moved online (including GPs and mental health support) and community activities. As a result, women have become even more isolated, have reported adverse impacts on mental health and increased vulnerability to family and domestic violence.  

We raised the need for non-clinical mental health services to promote women’s wellbeing and free wrap-around services required to make a response holistic. 

Other key points relating to Women’s Health included: 

  • Discussion on vulnerable charities that rely solely on fundraising, op-shops and volunteer labour
  • The Women’s Safety NSW (formerly WDVCAS) team in South West Sydney had an additional 200+ referrals in April 2020 compared with April 2019 and that in the MacArthur region over Jan-July 2020 there has been 10.5% more referrals. Increased complexity in the referrals with financial, housing and health needs
  • The additional pressures on carers, with some community members not able to access NDIS and aged care services during the pandemic. Female carers have often taken on extra care duties on top of their paid work 
  • Additional support for women working in the community sector, many working above and beyond to support the community  
  • The increased collaboration across the community sector in Western Sydney to support vulnerable clients 
  • Women on temporary visas have been significantly impacted, with no means of getting home and little local support 

Research from around the globe has found that COVID-19 has disproportionally impacted women.

Find out more:

She Told Us So: Rapid Gender Analysis by CARE providers a global perspective.  

The Hon. Marise Payne thanked all representatives for their ongoing dedication to the community of Western Sydney during this critical time. 


Western Sydney MRC is passionate about supporting the individual needs of the CALD communities in our local area and advocating on behalf of our communities at the state and federal level. To do this, Western Sydney MRC is always ensuring that we work alongside the community.


To provide more direct feedback on the impacts COVID-19 has had on your community, contact our community development team and join our community advisory group. 

Contact Nadia, Community Development Coordinator at nadia@wsmrc.org.au