Women on temporary visas experiencing violence and their children face specific barriers to seeking support including fear of deportation and loss of custody of their children and lack of social networks, understanding of their rights and English language skills. Perpetrators of violence against women on temporary visas use these barriers to maintain power and control and to continue to use violence against women.
There is a lack of national data on women on temporary visas experiencing violence and their children.
In response, the National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence developed an online survey for service providers to submit data on women on temporary visas experiencing violence that they worked with or who sought assistance from them during the month of August 2018. Members of the National Advocacy Group distributed the voluntary survey through their networks across Australia.
- It appears there were at least 387 women on temporary visas experiencing violence accessing support services in Australia;
- These women had more than 351 children or dependants;
- Around a quarter (24%) of these women were living in crisis accommodation and around one in ten (11%) were living in temporary accommodation;
- One in ten of these women were living at home with the partner, which may increase their risk of experiencing further violence;
- Crisis and long-term housing was the service most needed by clients that organisations were unable to provide, followed by financial assistance.
This represents a national crisis which requires immediate law and policy reform by the Australian and State and Territory governments. The report makes a number of specific recommendations on how to ensure women on temporary visas can access secure, long term housing, financial assistance and other essential supports they need to be safe. These include reforming the ‘family violence provisions’ of the Migration Regulations 1994 and expanding the eligibility for Centrelink and Medicare, social housing and other government support services to include women on temporary visas.