Accessing the Family Violence Provision: enhancing migrant women’s safety

Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Marie Segrave and Professor JaneMaree Maher

Partners: InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence, WESNET: The Women's Services Network, Harmony Alliance: Migrant and Refugee Women for Change

Project contact: Associate Professor Marie Segrave

Funding: ARC Linkage project

About the project

Background

Existing evidence indicates that migration status, and particularly temporary migration status, may exacerbate the risk of family and domestic violence. Yet, there is a research gap pertaining to women who experience family and domestic violence from migrant and refugee backgrounds, and this gap is pronounced for women in Australia on temporary visas. The Migration Regulations (Clth) 1994 and the Family Violence Provision are designed to offer some protection to temporary migrants who experience family violence: this is a legal ‘safety net’ that enables women on a temporary partner visa to pursue a permanent residency application if their relationship breaks down due to family violence. The operation and reach of the FVP has not been the focus of any dedicated study. This project will build the evidence base needed to detail and analyse specific issues impacting migrant women without permanent residency or citizenship, with a focus on how best to support FVP applications and to enhance their success.

Project aims

  1. This project will document the experiences of women who are eligible to apply for the FVP, and map current service practices and outcomes, as well as barriers to accessing the FVP.
  2. This project is focused on women who are eligible to access this ‘safety net’ and investigates whether the current operation of the FVP is achieving its stated legislative intent which is to protect women who experience family violence whilst holding a temporary partner visa.

The outcomes will offer data to support and enhance the efficacy of the FVP. It will also offer important insights into the current impact of the accessibility of the FVP as part of the broader range of migration policies and practices that are focused on limiting and controlling temporary migrants. We recognise that women who cannot access this safety net also face specific challenges, are another critical group which are outside the scope and focus of this project. But by focusing on those women who are eligible to access FVP, this project will provide a new and highly valuable dataset on FDV for a significant grouping in migrant communities. In so doing, it will assist in addressing the broader knowledge gap about family violence prevalence in these communities. It is the first Australian study dedicated to this provision and its operation. Critically, the analysis will bring into view how migration law and regulations operate to enhance or obstruct women’s access to safety in the context of FDV, offering an important contribution to the gendered analysis of bordering practices, as outlined above.

The need to focus on particular populations and the challenges they encounter in the context of FDV has been widely recognised including by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Migrant and refugee women, and specifically women on temporary visas, are one of the named priorities under COAGs Fourth Action Plan (of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022).