Temporary migration and family violence: an analysis of victimisation, support and vulnerability

Monash University / InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence, 2017

Family violence does not discriminate. However, it is known that for various subsets of the population, both the experience of family violence and the support and response options do vary, in some cases significantly. The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence (VRCFV) acknowledged the importance of recognising these points of differentiation among key groups.

This report presents the results of the first comprehensive study of a subset of the immigrant and refugee community: temporary migrants. This group is comprised of those who are in Australia on temporary visas, which include partner-related visas, as well as working, student, visitor and other temporary visas.

Temporary migration status matters in the context of family violence because, in addition to the acknowledged levers of financial, emotional, technological, physical and sexual abuse that occur across situations of family violence, uncertainty of migration status creates additional leverage for violence and control.

This report draws on detailed cases of 300 women who sought the support service of InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence over 2015–16. The findings lay the ground for a range of potential interventions and improved responses for this group of women, on the basis of significant data that details the specific impact of migration status on the experience of family violence and access to support.

In summary, this report urges recognition of the following:

  • Temporary migration status impacts women regardless of whether or not they are eligible to apply for the family violence provision
  • On the one hand, migration status is prioritised over and above the experience of family violence. The response and support made available is dependent on migration status first and foremost, rather than risk and need in relation to experiencing family violence. This is most evident in relation to the limits on access to financial and housing support for women with temporary migration status.
  • On the other, migration status is often not factored into assessment of risk. The failure to recognise, understand and assess risk pertaining to migration status results in limited recognition of violence, abuse and coercion in all their forms, and their impact.
  • As a nation we are only just coming to grips with the complexity of family violence, the interventions required to better understand and manage risk, what is required to prevent family violence and what we need to do to ensure a comprehensive, impactful and efficient response. It is critical that we respond to family violence first and foremost, in its various manifestations across Australia, and that we recognise and support all victims equally, regardless of migration status or any other point of difference.

Access full report (PDF): Temporary Migration and Family Violence: An analysis of victimisation, vulnerability and support