Women from Non-English Background (NESB) who experience domestic and family violence can face additional barriers in seeking assistance, these can include:

  • language difficulties
  • discrimination
  • issues around settlement and immigration and pre-migration history of torture and trauma
  • loyalty to family
  • fear of being cut off from family and ostracised by the community
  • the shame of marriage breakdown
  • mistrust of authorities or outside support
  • lack of familiarity with Australian service systems and lack of knowledge of women’s rights under the Australian law

These difficulties can be compounded further for women who have Temporary Visas. Many women are unaware or lack understanding of their immigration status (sometimes deliberately misinformed about this by their partner). They have misconceptions about their legal rights and status as a refugee or migrant woman.

There is also the fear that if they approach authorities for help they will be forced to leave Australia.

Many women may remain in abusive relationships with their Australian partners for fear of having their application for permanent residence rejected if they leave the relationship. Often the partner will use the permanent application as a way to control the woman, threatening to inform the Department of Immigration if the woman leaves or does not do what the partner wants. This situation can become further complicated if there are children from the relationship.

Many women stay in abusive relationships out of fear that they will lose their children if they leave. Migrant and refugee women feel particularly marginalised and isolated. Often they do not have any family or friends in Australian whom they can turn to for help.

Due to cultural taboos, social stigma and privacy concerns, women are often hesitant to seek help from members within their own community. Many women are financially dependent on their Australian partner and are not entitled to welfare support.

However, every woman has a right to feel safe, regardless of her immigration status. DVAC provides a free and confidential service. We also provide a free interpreting service when requested.

Other services that may be helpful are:

Immigrant Women’s Support Service (IWSS)

Harmony Place

Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS)