SiTara’s Story is a non-profit charitable organisation registered in Australia that believes strong women build strong communities and nations.
SiTara’s Story seeks to build the self-esteem and self-worth of women within the community and beyond by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons, and helping them to empower themselves.
Women talk shops
Migrants make up some 28 per cent of the ACT’s population with new arrivals topping 10,000 in each of the past two financial years. It is a large enough population that deserves special focus and attention to help them catch up with the rest of the ACT communities to be able to fulfil not only their aspirations, but also the ACT’s goal of providing each Canberran a meaningful life, something that is captured by the ACT’s Wellbeing Framework, measured by peoples living standard, social connections, identity and belonging, health and safety among other things.
Migrant and refugee women can be disadvantaged due to intersecting factors such as economic hardship, language barrier, lack of social support and connection, culture and an absence of targeted support focusing on them. Members of CALD communities, despite having the will and skills to integrate into the society, falls behind due to these barriers. Limited options for these communities to build connections and natural support networks in the community and reduced access to employment and education marginalises them further and often pushes them into problems related to mental health and domestic violence. Just with a bit of support and linking them to the right support will help this community flourish and utilise the diverse wealth of knowledge and experience in the ACT economy and communities.
SiTara’s Story organises talk shops to support CALD women in the ACT to help them integrate into communities. Sitara’s Story has collaborated with ACT CALD associations to deliver mental health awareness programs in the past years in partnership with Perinatal Wellbeing Foundation, Headspace and MIEACT addressing women’s mental health, women’s physical health and adolescent mental health. SiTara’s Story runs creative writing competitions and cooking workshops all for the purpose of creating mental health awareness within CALD communities in Australia. While doing so, it had recognised that there is a tremendous gap in addressing needs of this cohort.
Women talk shops provide a safe space for women belonging to Canberra CALD communities to improve better outcomes for women who experience discrimination due to poverty, language barrier, disability and ethnic barriers.
What is on your mind?
SiTara’s Story creates a bridge between Canberra and developing countries, especially Bangladesh, where vulnerable groups such as women and children require early education and intervention. SiTara’s Story chose to work with Bangladesh initially because UNICEF has already classified Bangladesh as a country of “high inequity”. Bangladesh’s socio-cultural environment contains pervasive gender discrimination, so girls and women face many obstacles to their development. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has further identified several wide-ranging challenges that are most relevant to address the rights of adolescents, including in Bangladesh. These include: (1) A growing gulf between the experience of adolescents and that of their parents or other caregivers; (2) Stigmatisation/negative perceptions of adolescents; (3) Invisibility of adolescents in policymaking, with a lack of a holistic vision for their development; (4) Lack of understanding of adolescent development; (5) Balancing continuing entitlement to protection with emerging capacities for participation; and (6) Adolescents bearing adult responsibilities.
Each year, an estimated 20 per cent of adolescents worldwide experience a mental health problem. Suicide is a leading cause of death among adolescents globally. Mental health issues in adolescence, if unaddressed, can carry over and negatively affect individuals over the long term. Yet in Bangladesh, as in most developing countries, few mental health services or resources are available for adolescents and young people. The stigma associated with mental disorders represents a further challenge to addressing adolescents’ mental health needs.
SiTara’s Story works with mental health professionals on the ground to conduct mental health awareness workshops in underprivileged schools in rural Bangladesh where they do not have any access to any support system. These activities include: Mental Health First Aid Training for teachers and students, positive parenting workshops, and trauma management workshops. This is the only mental health intervention program in underprivileged schools in Bangladesh. SiTara’s Story also extends its support towards vulnerable groups including women labourers returning from the Middle East who suffered mental and physical trauma from their employers.
SiTara’s Story also provides mental health support to the health care workers in Covid designated public hospitals in Bangladesh. None of the COVID designated hospital in Bangladesh has any mental health training or mental health service except the service provided by the Innovation for Wellbeing Foundation with the financial support from SiTara’s Story.
Read more: Annual reports
See in pictures: Bangladesh chapter
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