Utopia Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health

Our fundraising campaign is to support the final fit-out elements at Utopia Health - a Refugee and Asylum Seeker health centre in Hoppers Crossing - by purchasing two works made by Melbourne-based Karen community weaver Mu Naw Poe.  Utopia is a non-government, not-for-profit organisation that opened its doors in early 2020. Utopia provides free specialist healthcare to refugees who are not eligible for medicare. 

Your support will both contribute to Utopia’s success in providing refugee and asylum seeker health care AND support the work of refugee tapestry artist Mu Naw Poe. 

ABOUT UTOPIA:  Accessing quality healthcare can be problematic for refugee and asylum seeker migrant groups due to language barriers, distance and ineligibility for funding. Added to that, the healthcare needs of these groups can be complex and require an integrated approach that provides medical and psychological support in a culturally safe environment.

The founders of Utopia believe in health as a human right and that refugees and asylum seekers require services tailored to their needs. Personal profit is not their purpose. It has a very high concentration of Karen refugee clients and also employs Karen-speaking staff. 
Utopia is reliant on a portion of its income coming from funding and donations 

ABOUT THE KAREN WEAVERS: The uplifting Karen weaver tapestries will positively benefit Utopia’s patients by creating an environment and atmosphere where they feel welcomed, and have their cultural identity celebrated and on show. They are derivative of the traditional weaving culture in Burma whilst being created in an Australian context and would be the perfect addition to the healthcare setting providing both familiarity and hope for Utopia’s clients.

Mu Naw created these tapestries by hand, using a loom, over hundreds of hours. She is part of the Karen Tapestry Weavers group who have - over the past decade - been mentored in both collage and tapestry by local Melbourne artist Carmel Power and renowned weaver Sara Lindsay. They have been recognised with awards through the Heartlands Refugee Art prize for their joyous, highly colourful and patterned collages and Sara has witnessed them become much more confident and technically proficient in tapestry over the years. 

In the words of Mu Naw Poe:
“At first I didn’t have much confidence and I was too shy to show my talent and worried that people may not like my tapestries. You don’t need to be ashamed of who you are and what others…think about you.  Now I want to tell other people that no matter who you are (or) where you are from you can achieve your goal if you try.  I’m proud of myself and have made my family proud too.” 

Sales from previous exhibitions and commissions have allowed the artists to travel back to their homeland after many years without returning.

Utopia already has some traditional Karen bags and textiles hanging in the treatment rooms and lovely touches of art decorating the walls throughout. The waiting room is large and open and has an expanse of wall that would make the perfect home for the larger Karen tapestries "Night Sky" and "In My Minds Eye".

Our business Brave New Eco have worked closely with Utopia’s founders and we designed the fit-out for Utopia in 2019. You can read more about this project here 
You can support our endeavour to help the tapestries find their rightful home on the walls of Utopia. Whilst we have put a modest fundraising goal in place,  we are hoping to raise as much as possible. All funds raised above and beyond the purchasing of the tapestries will be given to Utopia to support their general operations. 

Donations (34)

  • Stephanie O'Collins
    • $50 
    • 2 yrs
  • Hatoun Ibrahim
    • $25 
    • 2 yrs
  • Zoe Brady
    • $100 
    • 2 yrs
  • Sue Sheehan
    • $30 
    • 2 yrs
  • Phillip Hendy
    • $100 
    • 2 yrs


Megan Norgate
Brunswick VIC

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