NFPs Urge Government Support for Women on Temporary Visas
28 April 2016 at 8:28 am
The Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA) has joined 134 organisations in urging the Prime Minister to provide crisis payments to women on temporary visas who are facing domestic violence.
Crisis payments help people who are experiencing difficult circumstances, such as survivors of domestic violence and those affected by natural disasters. Women on temporary visas are exempt from accessing these payments.
FECCA chairperson Joe Caputo told Pro Bono Australia News that this was an urgent issue as there is a large number of women on temporary visas who could not access domestic violence services and crisis payments.
He said the problem was compounded by immigrant women who found themselves in a new country where they are not able to speak English or depend on established networks.
“What prompted us to write to the PM was that we have quite a large number of women on temporary visas who are not protected as every other woman is in terms of having access to domestic violence services and crisis payments,” Caputo said.
“That’s when women need it most. These women need the service because they often can’t speak the language, they are in a new situation, they haven’t got networks in the country and so by not having access to these services and crisis payments, it means they are often living in fear and staying in an abusive relationship or domestic violence situation. They often put up with it as they don’t have any other choice.”
The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence released its recommendations in March 2016, one of which was that people seeking to escape violence are entitled to crisis payments regardless of their visa status.
Caputo called on the federal government to change the regulation so that vulnerable women are not left behind and forced to endure abusive relationships in isolation.
“It is terrible for everyone who goes through that, even if you speak the language and have networks here. For immigrant women on temporary visas it is far worse than local women,” he said.
“We hope and appeal to the PM that the government does reflect on these extremely serious issues that need to be addressed, not necessarily in the coming budget because it is already set in concrete, but through the various provisions that are made through the government’s services.”
CEO of Domestic Violence NSW Moo Baulch said that even when women on temporary visas are able to flee the violence, the lack of income leaves them struggling to find the right support in an overstretched system.
She said access to crisis payments would be a financial support for women on temporary visas as they seek assistance in the aftermath of a violent relationship, including accessing legal and justice support and meeting the basic needs of their children.
“Specialist domestic and family violence support services have developed nuanced expertise working with women with no income but governments don’t fund this work. This places enormous pressure on services that want to assist vulnerable women,” Baulch said.
“It’s not just about the challenge of finding a safe place for these women and their children to live safely, but about providing them with the financial, emotional and cultural support that they need to recover from abuse and to build their lives after violence.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.