- Women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds report similar forms of domestic and family violence to other women. However, the impact of violence is exacerbated by the stressors of the migration experience generally, and the constraints of visa status, which may increase women’s dependency on perpetrators for economic security and residency rights.
- Visa dependency can be created by perpetrators who, by misinforming women about their migration status and rights, continue inflicting violence and exercising control over women.
- Perpetrators are not held accountable for inflicted violence. While the Department of Immigration and Border Protection requires sponsors to provide police checks, the Department may only ban perpetrators of serious violence from sponsoring more women to come to Australia on partner visas in the future.
- Under current migration law, women who are holders of a partner visas are able to access permanent residency in situations when their relationships have broken down due to family violence. Family violence provisions are only available to a limited number of partner visas and under the distinguished talent visa. Women on a prospective marriage visas are only eligible to use family violence provisions if they marry their sponsor before the relationship breaks down due to family violence. Other visas that only give women temporary status do not offer any protections or other visa pathways in instances of family violence.
- The definition of family violence as adopted by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection does not encompass family violence perpetrated by r family members other than a partner, nor does it consider violations of sexual and reproductive rights (otherwise known as reproductive coercion), technology-facilitated abuse or cultural and spiritual abuse to be relevant forms of family violence.
- For eligible women to access family violence provisions they first need to prove the genuineness of their relationship, and then provide evidence that violence has been inflicted. Presenting oneself socially as a couple or proving joint financial management are some of the criteria used by the Department to establish that there is a genuine relationship. There is a lack of understanding by decision makers that social isolation and financial deprivation and control can be manifestations of family violence.
- Visa dependency and the lack of protection for women on temporary visas who are experiencing family violence create a greater demand for already stretched family violence services. Women on temporary visas normally need more support in refuges and shelters and they stay there for longer periods of time due to lack of financial capacity and suitable exit points. Many types of temporary visas make women ineligible to access Centrelink payments or social housing.
- AWAVA is calling for equitable access to family violence provisions or complementary protections, pathways to permanent residency where applicable for women who have had violence inflicted on them, full access to services including legal & financial support, counselling and housing, enhanced training on trauma, cultural competency and family violence for relevant decision makers including independent experts and interpreters and the greater commitment by government to ending violence against women.
For more detailed analysis of the intersection between family violence and migration status click here.