Undefeated: Stories of migrant women living in the west


    By Daniel Brace

    The Brimbank Writers & Readers Festival is an annual event that encourages a love of reading and literature, celebrates creativity and diversity, and promotes lifelong learning in Brimbank. 

    Free events across ten days of the Festival explore diverse experiences that reflect the Brimbank community including panel discussions on food & culture, authors from diverse and multicultural backgrounds in conversation, writing and publishing workshops, events for the kids and lots more! 

    Undefeated, is a compilation of 118 stories from 90 migrant women, celebrating their journeys and strength. It’s the focus of a special panel discussion as part of the Festival on Harmony Day.

    I spoke to Laura Madrid and Lisha Murphy for The Westsider to find out how they came to be published authors, part of the 90 migrant women featured in Undefeated. 

    “Melbourne’s west is built on the stories of migrants. I’m the child of migrants and came to Australia as a child. At the time I saw the call out for stories, we were in-between lockdowns during COVID, I was pregnant, and had a lot of time to think,” explained Lisha. 

    “I knew my experience was different to migrants who came as adults, but growing up I always felt a bit like an outsider because my family were different. So I wanted to write for my son, to explain those feelings of belonging and not belonging.”

    Laura came to Australia from Colombia as a student. After making a decision to stay in Australia, Laura moved to the suburbs and feels books like Undefeated might help improve attitudes towards migrant women. 

    “I think Undefeated is really important to increase empathy and compassion towards migrant women. When people open up to the experiences of others they learn and can appreciate each other more,” said Laura. 

    “The whole experience of learning about writing and storytelling was wonderful. Each step of the way we had guidance and help from other migrant women who really understood where we were coming from.”

    Fabiola Campbell is the founder of Professional Migrant Women, an organisation set up by and for migrant women to support them to succeed professionally in Australia. She’s also the driving force behind the concept and production of the book. 

    “Working with migrant women, after every session we would say ‘we should have captured that story.’ Writing a book seemed impossible, so we asked the women to write their own stories, giving them the tools and the space to write. Some started from scratch and made something new, others supported other women by editing their work,” Fabiola said, talking about the writing process undertaken by contributors to Undefeated. 

    “Some stories are windows and some are mirrors for migrant women. One with the purpose that migrant women feel seen and heard, the other is that non-migrants might develop compassion and connection to the stories and experiences of migrants. Both are ways of connecting the reader with the diverse experiences of the contributors. Every story is worth sharing.” 

    Join us for the Brimbank Writers and Readers Festival Harmony Day panel discussion on 21 March 2024, 12noon-1pm at Sunshine Library. This event will be Auslan interpreted. 

    For the full program please visit All events are free of charge. 

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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