Women’s Legal Services Australia observes the significant impact the migration system, including the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, has on women on temporary visas who are experiencing family violence. We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback on the Administrative Review Reform Issues Paper (Issues Paper). Our recommendations are informed by our collective practical experience supporting thousands of clients experiencing disadvantage and family violence over more than 40 years.
Alarmingly, 1 in 3 migrant and refugee women in Australia are experiencing family violence and rates are known to be even higher amongst women on temporary visas. Women on temporary visas can experience unique forms of family violence because their visa status can be tied to the person who uses violence. Women on temporary visas face additional barriers to seeking justice due to their visa status, financial position and trauma. We see clients every day whose perpetrators use their visa status to further coerce, manipulate and control them.
The Government’s National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-33 recognises the vulnerability of migrant women and children to family violence. The National Plan recognises that migrant women seeking to leave a violent relationship face unique structural barriers, including negative impacts on their visa status and eligibility for social security. Importantly, many of the users of family violence against temporary visa holders are Australian citizens. The new federal administrative review body and broader justice system must be responsive to this context and become more inclusive and safer.
With our extensive experience in legal practice, WLSA urges the Government to take on board our comments and recommendations in response to the Issues Paper. These recommendations are driven by our vison and commitment to keeping women and children safe and assisting them to escape and recover from family violence in a way that is trauma informed, gender-responsive and culturally appropriate.
In summary WLSA strongly recommends the new federal administrative review body functions in a way that is trauma-informed, gender and culturally appropriate, accessible, safe and fair, and most importantly, is responsive to the complex needs of victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence.