What are the issues

  • The family violence provisions allow certain people (mostly partner visa applicants) applying for permanent residence in Australia to continue with their application after the breakdown of their married or de facto relationship, if they or a member of their family unit have experienced family violence by their partner.
  • Eligibility for family violence provisions afforded under the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) is limited to certain visas only, excluding many dependent visa categories. This creates compounding barriers for many victims/survivors who might need to seek assistance or leave violent relationships.
  • The definition of family violence used to determine the eligibility for family violence provisions does not fully encompass all manifestations of violence and is limited to nuclear-family violence only and is focussed on intimate-partner violence, to the exclusion of many relevant forms.
  • The process of assessing the genuineness of a relationship uses indicators that can be misleading and inappropriate in situations of DFV, leaving some people ineligible when they should be eligible.
  • Women on temporary visas including those seeking asylum are ineligible for many government support payments, such as Centrelink and in some cases Medicare benefits leaving many victims/survivors financially dependent on the perpetrator (partner or other family member) or with no income.
  • Women on temporary visas not be eligible for many support services, such as crisis or social housing, depending on the policies of the relevant State or Territory, as well as of the individual crisis services.
  • Even in circumstances where women on temporary visas with no income are able to access crisis support services, they have limited pathways to re-establish independence, and often require prolonged assistance from crisis support services. This puts heavy pressure on already under-resourced support services.

National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence

In 2018, the National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence (the National Advocacy Group) was formed to respond to the national crisis when it comes to supporting these women to live free from violence. Currently, the National Advocacy Group consists of over 60 state and territory peak bodies, service providers and other organisations working to address violence against women across Australia. The National Advocacy Group meets on the bimonthly basis. Currently, AWAVA together with Domestic Violence NSW and Harmony Alliance Migrant and Refugee Women for Change are holding the Secretariat role. If you wish to become a member of the National Advocacy Group, get in touch with us.

Resources

  • National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence (2019) Blueprint for Reform: Removing Barriers to Safety for Victims/Survivors of Domestic and Family Violence who are on Temporary Visas
  • National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence (2018) Path to Nowhere Report: Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence and their Children
  • Segrave, M (2017) Temporary migration and family violence: An analysis of victimisation, vulnerability and support. Melbourne: School of Social Sciences, Monash University.
  • inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence (2020) Women on temporary visas experiencing family violence. Position Paper.
  • Vaughan, C., Davis E., Murdolo, A., Chen, J., Murray, L., Block, K., Quiazon, R., & Warr, D. (2015). Promoting community-led responses to violence against immigrant and refugee women in metropolitan and regional Australia: The ASPIRE Project (State of knowledge paper 7). Sydney: Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

Steps for reform to support women on temporary visas experiencing violence

  1. Improve the migration system so that all women on temporary visas who experience domestic, family and sexual violence and their dependants can access protections, services and justice.
  2. Ensure eligibility and access to services and government support are based on women’s needs for safety and recovery, regardless of their migration status.
  3. Ensure that women on temporary visas who have experienced domestic, family and sexual violence and their dependants have immediate and full access to safety, protection, justice and fully funded specialist support with demonstrated gender expertise and cultural competency.

The full list of recommendations can be found in the Blueprint for Reform.