Blueprint for Reform: Removing barriers to safety for survivors of domestic and family violence who are on temporary visas
The project in brief
Australian Women Against Violence Alliance
Started 2018 and completed in 2019.
The Blueprint is a policy document that has brought together diverse sectors with the goal of supporting women on temporary visas who are experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence. Its development is connected to a number of reports showing the state of crisis when it comes to support of migrant and refugee women in Australia. In some circumstances, disclosure of domestic, family and sexual violence may result in deportation.
Women, who can be on a range of temporary visas (including asylum-seeking women), do not have equal access to the services and support which is available to women who are permanent residents or Australian citizens.
The Blueprint offers three main steps to address this:
- Improving 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.
- Ensuring eligibility and access to services and government support that is based on women’s needs for safety and recovery, regardless of their migration status.
- Ensuring that the women and their dependants, have immediate and full access to safety, protection, justice, and fully funded specialist support with demonstrated gender expertise and cultural competency.
This issue is cross-cutting among a number of sectors with implications for refugee and migrant support services, domestic and family violence services, legal, health and housing services. The Blueprint eases the pressure on the host communities by ensuring that the women are supported at the points of crisis by the full range of sector organisations.
It is a complex phenomenon of mixed migration that requires a whole of society approach. In working through a whole of society approach, the Blueprint not only engages different sectors, but cuts across different systems such as migration, social security, health, education, and family law.
The Blueprint also addresses the objective of refugee self-reliance by ensuring that women on temporary visas have access to essential services and a pathway to permanent residency.
It also addresses complementarity goals between the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration by addressing different migration statuses such as asylum and refugee protection, temporary migration (both marriage and skilled), and forced marriage.
Present a comprehensive blueprint for the policy reform in the realm of migration law and regulations to address situations of domestic, family and sexual violence and improve access to services and justice for victims/survivors of violence
Bring together diverse range of organisations to support women on temporary visas experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence
Raise awareness of the government and host communities about the specific issues women on temporary visas are experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence
Highlight the good practice of whole of society approach in supporting victims/survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence
Attend to questions of complementarity and mixed migration
National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence consists of state and national peak bodies, policy organisations, academics, service providers working in the areas of family violence, migrant are refugees services, sexual assault services, trafficking services, legal services and housing and homelessness services, and faith-based organisations.
Resources required to complete this work included:
- financial (staff costs, meeting costs both for virtual and in person);
- technical (access to teleconferencing facilities);
- costs associated with advocacy and policy change.
Challenges and how they were overcome
Temporary visa in the Australian context include substantial visas such as partner visa, work visa that allow pathways to permanent residency as well as visas such as tourist or a visitor visa that expect a visa holder to return to their country of origin upon visa expiry. While we advocate for all women who are experiencing family violence to have access to essential services at the point of crisis, we understand that not all women will be able to remain permanently in Australia. More education is required for the government officials in this regard.
This challenge is overcome through a rigorous and detailed blueprint that explains this complexity.
Results of the Good Practice
It ensures that migration rules and regulations do not disempower women on temporary visas who are survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence, to seek support.
It brings a policy change to the refugee determination process where an applicant has suffered domestic, family and sexual violence both in Australia and in a foreign state.
It addresses complementarity and mixed migration movements ensuring that access to services and justice for all women who have experienced domestic, family and sexual violence is a fundamental right.
Enacting policy change.
Tina Dixson, Policy Officer, Australian Women Against Violence Alliance