Briefing paper

ECCV is the peak advocacy organisation for ethnic and multicultural groups in Victoria. An invitation-only roundtable was held with Australian Muslim mothers in the south eastern suburban area of Melbourne, to discuss their recent experiences. A group of 14 Afghan women, supported by a Foundation House program coordinator and an interpreter, spoke with ECCV.

ECCV found that local residents, in particular Australian Muslim mothers and daughters, are distressed by high levels of discrimination from other local residents in the streets where they live, in parks and shopping centres and on roads with vehicles. The aggressive use of vehicles has escalated in the last two years. At the same time negative attitudes from other local residents towards these women and their children has become more overt.

Ongoing anecdotal evidence to ECCV from its members over the previous six months about their vulnerability convinced us to speak directly with these women whose voices are often overwhelmed in the debate on social cohesion. Their role at the heart of families is a unique witness to the emotional effects of social cohesion narratives which is not fully appreciated. Their lived experience is also rendered invisible by the language of policy.

Despite their concern for the growing confidence of right-wing extremist views, Australian Muslim mothers remain strongly supportive of their children’s future in Australia. They are upset by political and media narratives that contribute to a sense of loss of belonging to Australia which they, and their families, are resisting.

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