One of the most difficult but rewarding things I do as a teacher of people from non-English speaking backgrounds is to co-ordinate a mother’s group each Friday morning.
It is difficult because I am so out of my depth from a social worker’s perspective. As I get to know our parent group better I also become aware of the difficulties that they face in day to day life. Their way of life is very different from mine as I am a privileged fourth generation Australian brought up in a middle class family.
As part of our program we usually invite Jo Perks, the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner from Liverpool Women’s Health Centre to come and talk with the mums. I am in awe of her ability to speak softly, gently and clearly to these women as she answers their questions, addresses their fears and offers them assistance.
Jo is so much in demand, that to secure an appointment with her you have to book weeks ahead. One of our mothers has not had a proper medical check-up since the birth of her last baby four years ago. Jo was willing to squeeze her in to her busy schedule during her own lunch break.
Jo is so accustomed to the needs of migrant women that she organises a female interpreter to be there if there is a need. She discourages husbands or mother-in-law from attending because she wants the dialogue to be open, trusting and accurate. Jo is able to tend to the social an emotional needs of these women as well as their physical needs.
Unfortunately this important and much needed service is in danger of being closed! Why? Yes, you guessed it … money! Where will these women go? How can they afford to see specialists? Where will they feel as safe? I am writing to the local MPs. Please reply if you have any other suggestions.