Everyday WLSA observes the significant impact the migration system has on women on temporary visas who are experiencing family violence. Through this Review, Australia has an opportunity to implement reforms to address barriers that marginalise women on temporary visas and promote their safety.
The recently launched National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children recognises the vulnerability of migrant women and children to family violence, where 1 in 3 migrant and refugee women in Australia are experiencing family violence. It is notable that rates are known to be even higher amongst women on temporary visas. Importantly, the National Plan recognises that migrant women face structural barriers other women do not, such as the impact ending a relationship has on their visa status and eligibility for social security.
Women on temporary visas can experience unique forms of family violence because their visa status can be tied to the person who uses violence. Many of the users of family violence against temporary visa holders are Australian citizens. We see clients every day whose perpetrators use their visa status and the migration system to further coerce, manipulate and control them. This is an issue we must face as a community and the outcomes of this Review are critical in addressing the systemic factors that undermine safety for women on temporary visas and their children.
Summary of Recommendations
- Establish gender equality as an underpinning principle of Australia’s multicultural framework
- Apply a gender and safety lens to the Review, succeeding report and any future reforms
- Create a fee-free substantive temporary family violence visa
- Offer full work rights to women on temporary visas, especially those who are experiencing family violence
- Allow women on temporary visas experiencing family violence to access social security, childcare subsidy and Medicare and waive all relevant newly resident waiting periods for permanent visa holders.
- Waive or significantly reduce visa application fees for victim-survivors of family violence
- Offer flexibility in relation to visa deadlines, evidence requirements and interviews
- Train all Home Affairs staff on gender, family violence and trauma-informed responses
- Harness the economic contribution of secondary visa applications by offering full work rights
- Increase or remove the age cap on skilled visas.
- Enhance flexibility so skilled migrants can more easily move between employers, especially where there is family violence
- Establish a unit in the Department of Home Affairs, similar to the Family Violence Unit, where workers can report exploitation without fear that doing so will have a negative impact on their visa status
Removing barriers to permanent residency
- Create easier pathways to permanent residency for temporary visa holder parents of Australian children
- Create a person-centred migration system that supports people to permanent residency.