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Centre of Advancing Women

Established in 2020 due to lockdowns and a high demand for family violence support for refugee women in the community, the Centre of Advancing Women (COAW) began as a not-for-profit organisation in inner Melbourne. Acting founder and CEO Samia Baho has carried out this work for over 25 years across several organisations and institutions, but the pressures of COVID made clear the need for a more permanent solution in the form of COAW. COAW is now a Victorian state-wide deductible gift recipient (DGR) organisation working to support African-Australian women by acting as a first place of contact for vulnerable women who are slipping through the cracks and are being neglected by social systems. The mission of COAW is to provide real, community-based outreach and support to these individuals who need it most through a range of services and spaces to promote connection and learning from one another to prevalent isolation. In addition, the centre also builds and trains grassroots ‘community campions’ who work in tandem with the CEO to carry out the organisation’s mission, by developing a bottom-up, informal network to provide the latest health and safety information in a reliable, collaborative environment. The COAW team is comprised of 25 multilingual community staff members and volunteers with diverse skills and experience working with refugee and migrant women in Melbourne.