A Bollywood-style song and dance video is sending a message to prevent violence against women.
The That Girl Wodonga project has got members of the Indian and Bhutanese communities in Albury Wodonga on the New South Wales-Victoria border talking about equality.
About 60 members of the local Bhutanese and Indian communities have learned a Bollywood-style dance and song titled That Girl.
The song has a message about respecting women and includes a verse in Hindi. The accompanying music clip has been shared on Youtube.
The That Girl Wodonga project had participants of various ages talking about respecting women. (Supplied: That Girl project)
The project is the brainchild of Melbourne-based songwriter and Community Music Victoria’s diversity coordinator Sarah Mandie.
Ms Mandie said it about giving the community the confidence to talk about violence against women and girls.
She said the aim was to give women and girls more confidence to stand up for themselves and call out disrespectful behaviour.
It also encouraged people in the community to help each other, and connect with health and support services if in need.
‘A problem across all cultures’
Ms Mandie, who is married to an Indian man and has two young daughters, said the That Girl Wodonga project evolved after she approached the organisation Gateway Health and the local Indian Association.
Singer songwriter Sarah Mandie hopes the That Girl project will encourage Indian and other migrant and refugee communities to have conversations about respecting women. (Supplied: ‘That Girl’ project)
“I was very distressed a few years ago on hearing about a tragic case of the rape and murder of two young girls in India whose attackers have not been brought to justice,” she said.
“I wanted to do something proactive, so I wrote the song and devised a social impact project using the song as a vehicle.
“I was looking for an active Indian community in a regional area who would be interested in participating in the project, learning a dance, appearing in a music video and raising awareness around the issue.”
Gateway Health’s Tricia Hazeleger said the project was not about singling out specific communities, but about raising awareness of respecting women.
“Violence against women is a problem across all cultures,” she said.
“It’s not that there is more of a problem, it’s just a different problem.
“There are different barriers like language, visas, dowry issues and the gender inequality that is built into some of the cultural and family structures that come with the community … and we want to address them.”
Gateway Health’s Tricia Hazeleger with a mural made by participants, which includes drawings of women’s hands with messages of respect written on them. (ABC Goulburn Murray: Allison Jess)
Having fun spreading serious message
Ms Hazeleger said a song about respecting young women was a great way to get the Indian and Bhutanese communities talking about domestic violence.
“We had been looking for a creative way to get this discussion happening.
“If what I had done was say, ‘Let’s have a workshop about family violence’, then who is going to arrive?
“Whereas doing something like this which is fun resulted in multi-generations talking to each other.
“Everybody was singing and dancing and using these words about respect from Sarah’s song … it did the job from my point of view very well,” she said.
Participant Priyanka Mishra said song and dance was a great way to connect the Indian and Bhutanese communities.
Ms Mishra, a mother of three boys, said cultural similarities included a love of dance and bright colours.
“It was a good way to come together and because part of the song was in Hindi, many could relate to it,” she said.
Participant Priyanka Mishra said the project got women of all ages discussing equality. (Supplied: That Girl project)
Ms Mishra, who moved to Albury Wodonga from India in 2009, was surprised by how quickly the participants in the video talked about equality.
“From the younger age group to the older group, they all wanted respect,” she said.
“There are many women who aren’t confident to discuss [these issues] but they talked about it here and they all said, ‘We all need respect’ and ‘People should care about us’.”
Ms Mandie agreed, and said participants had expressed that the song had given them a voice.
Ms Mishra said it was a lonely experience arriving in a new country as a migrant or refugee.
“You are lost. You don’t have family support; you don’t know many people,” she said.
“So if we know that there is some place where you can go and there is a community available — all those things give you confidence that if something goes wrong, there is someone that can help you.”
Ms Hazeleger said people cared about their relationships and keeping their families safe.
“I hope that … within the communities there has been an awareness-raising around the issues and an opportunity for women to speak, and an opportunity for Gateway Health to learn and make connections with the community,” she said.
She said the video continued to be circulated within the community and used by other family violence agencies.
The That Girl Wodonga project is the first in a series.
Ms Mandie is working on That Girl Boroondara and That Girl Yarra Ranges, involving the Indigenous community at Healesville.
All the projects will be incorporated into one music video.