Forward Strategies for Advancing African Women’s Advocacy Unit [AWAU]
JERA International guided the development of the framework and content in preparation for AWAU to move from being an auspiced project of ANCORW to becoming an independent, incorporated national body that will act on behalf of African women in Australia.
JERA further assisted in the development of ‘over horizon’ strategies for funding that will provide sustainability for AWAU. JERA believes the project assited the defining and developing an organisation for African women and the African Diaspora, and should do more than orientate and provide strategies for an “organisation” – it should unlock the social, cultural, economic and environmental levers that will trigger investment and action.
Any investment by and for African women in Australia, should provide opportunities and program commitments that engage African women around Australia and ultimately enhance the social wellbeing, economic vitality and sustainability of AWAU members and their communities.
Originally, the African Women’s Advocacy Unit [AWAU] was an auspiced program of Australian National Committee of Refugee Women [ANCORW]. AWAU has been funded by the Department of Immigration And Citizenship (DIAC) since 2005 with a further year of funding available for this program (to 30/6/2010).
In 2007 AWAU members held a special meeting to discuss their experiences of AWAU and to define the way forward for the program. The members identified that they were ready to move forward beyond the current status of being auspiced by ANCORW and that AWAU should become a registered organisation, able to receive funding on its own volition to run programs. It was to be known as African Women Australia enabling the organisation to retain the name AWAU. However, the structure, form and scope of the organisation was yet to established or recorded.
The AWAU Management Team is currently working with over 140 members to progress this organisation. They have strong community support in this task. The membership of AWAU over the 4 years has grown from 15 members to over 140 members from the African refugee diaspora. Training and community forums have recently also included a number of women migrants from the African continent. AWAU provides an opportunity for and demonstrates its mission which is around “empowering refugee women to have control over their own lives and to advocate on their own behalf”.