Textile artwork exploring childhood memories, created by a participant in the 3Es program.
Textile artwork exploring childhood memories, created by a participant in the 3Es program. Photograph courtesy of Anglicare

Insight into life of Coffs Harbour immigrants

LEARNING to swim or how to ride a bike are things most Australians take for granted but for many refugee and migrant women moving to Coffs Harbour they are part of building a new life.

Experiences like these are being explored in a new exhibition at Coffs Harbour Regional Museum - The 3Es Stories To Freedom - which opened on May 17.

The exhibition is based on the experiences of women involved in the Anglicare North Coast 3Es to Freedom program - a program aimed at empowering refugee and migrant women to successfully navigate their futures.

The program was recognised Australia-wide late last year after winning a high commendation in the Anglicare Australia Awards.

Anglicare's Emma Apsden said the museum exhibition included a display of intricate textiles, film and stunning program photographs.

"It offers an insight into the past, present and future lives of our 3Es to Freedom refugee and migrant women living on the Coffs Coast," she said.

While there are younger women involved in the program, Emma said the bulk of the women in the program were in their 40s and their 50s.

She said the 3Es Program looked to help them learn new skills - such as basic IT and job-seeking tools, English language education, support to attain vocational qualifications, as well as social and parenting knowledge - with the ultimate goal of getting into work.

Museum Curator Jo Besley said the museum was pleased to host the exhibition which amongst other things highlighted the joys and trepidations of learning new skills and sharing new experiences.

"Coffs Harbour has been a welcoming home to people of all backgrounds and nationalities for many years now," Jo said.

"Most are united by the fact that they are refugees or migrants from their homeland, but each person's experience is very different

"For me, the exhibition highlights the importance of friendship and support as women from across the world help each other to navigate these experiences.

The exhibition is presented by Anglicare North Coast, the Australian Government's Department of Social Services, Southern Cross University and Coffs Harbour Regional Museum and runs until June 29 at the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum.

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