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Family violence and temporary visa holders during COVID-19

Temporary visas COVID-19 Violence against women Family violence Victoria

Every day across Australia, domestic and family violence services and their case managers and key staff, are supporting women and children experiencing domestic and family violence. Their work is focused on short term needs in the first instance, and then looks to medium-to-long term supports that can be accessed and established to assist women to live securely and safely. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this work has changed in terms of where it is undertaken and how, but it remains the case that case managers work with clients to assess and identify risk, to develop risk management strategies and to navigate access to the supports and systems available.

This study captures the immediate needs, contexts and circumstances of 100 women who held temporary visas and sought the support of inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence due to their experience of family or domestic violence during the first lockdown phase (from the declaration of a State of Emergency across Victoria on 16 March to 31 May 2020).

Key Recommendations:

  1. Review and expand the family violence provisions. This should include a view to expanding access by expanding the definition of perpetrators to include extended family/in-law family members. 
  2. Review and broaden the definition of family violence in the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) to ensure consistency with the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic), this should include the recognition of all forms financial abuse.
  3. Establish a single subclass bridging visa for all temporary visa holders to access if they experience domestic and family violence. This visa would enable immediate access to health, housing, medical, financial and other supports without limitation as well as work rights, to ensure women have certainty for 3 years (with an option of extension if necessary) while issues pertaining to Family Court and other matters be reduced, and to enable necessary arrangements made regarding women’s safety.
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