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Family violence also an issue in migrant, refugee communities

1 December 20140 comments
White Ribbon Day

White Ribbon Day

Significant and increasing numbers of women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are becoming the victims of family violence, according to a new report.

But the real extent of violence against CALD women is uncertain and may be more concerning because of evidence and cultural barriers to reporting, according the Australian Institute of Criminology report, released to coincide with White Ribbon Day.

The report found one woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner.

It says that within this, there are a significant amount of women from CALD communities.

“Exact figures, however, on the number of CALD women affected by domestic violence remains uncertain. There are a number of reasons for this including; consistency with a broader trend concerning the lack of quantitative evidence available to illustrate the prevalence of issues impacting on CALD Australians,” the report says.

“This is particularly pertinent for Australians from new and emerging community backgrounds, who by their nature, typically do not feature prominently in statistical research.

White Ribbon Day is held annually on November 25 by White Ribbon Australia to observe the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women.

It also signals the start of the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, which ends on Human Rights Day, December 10.

Globally, White Ribbon is the world’s largest male-led movement to end men’s violence against women. It is also Australia’s only national, male led campaign to end men’s violence against women.

The report suggests victims of domestic violence from CALD communities are often reluctant or unable to talk about or report domestic violence due to the stigma and shame they may face from their own communities. There is also an issue with lack of access to awareness of support systems.

The report outlines the effects of domestic violence on victims and on society broadly.

“It can adversely affect the emotional and psychological wellbeing of a woman; her ability to participate in a household and take care of any children; and her ability to participate in a workplace,” it says.

A KPMG study of the economic cost of domestic violence against women conducted last year found it to be around $14.7 billion.

In 2009, the Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted a Personal Safety Survey which revealed that without intervention, the cost of violence perpetrated against CALD women was estimated to reach about $4 billion by 2022. This figure represents 26 per cent of the total cost of violence.

In response to the report, the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils (FECCA) is advocating for applying family violence provisions to the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (Subclass 457 visa).

This visa allows skilled workers to come to Australia and work for an approved business for up to four years. After two years of continuous work and employer sponsorship, subclass 457 primary visa holders may request for their employer to sponsor their application for permanent residency.

“Primary visa holders can bring their family (secondary holders of the subclass 457 visa),”
A FECCA spokeswoman said.

“Currently secondary holders of subclass 457 visas who have experienced family and domestic violence are unable to access Family Violence Provisions (FVP), and thereby obtain permanent residence. This is in contrast to an applicant who holds a temporary Partner visa.”

“Such an applicant can obtain permanent residence less than two years after the temporary Partner visa application was made, if family violence has occurred,” she said.

 Laurie Nowell
AMES Senior Journalist