Temporary Migration and Family Violence

Chief Investigator and research contact: Associate Professor Marie Segrave

About the research

Monash University and the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre are leading research in relation to the intersection of migration law and police, and family violence. Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre has led major research on temporary migration and family violence in Victoria

This page provides details of current research and outputs, including a major study currently underway:

Family Violence and Temporary Visa Holders During COVID-19

Part of the Gender-based violence and help-seeking behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic Research Portfolio

Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Marie Segrave and Dr Naomi Pfitzner

Australia, like many other countries worldwide, entered into a period of government directed lockdown on mid to late March 2020 due the COVID, which included stay-at-home orders and movement restrictions. Research shows that the home is the least safe environment for women and their children. In 2015 family violence was declared a ‘national emergency’ in Australia.

COVID-19 is exacerbating existing inequalities and other gendered implications are beginning to emerge (Milford & Anderson, 2020). There is important work to do to capture and share learnings on the specificity of the impact of pandemic, particularly the lockdown, for women and children experiencing family violence, as well identify if and how existing areas of insecurity escalated.

This project reviewed 100 cases of women who became clients of InTouch during the first Victorian lockdown (16 March to the end of May 2020) to map the specific challenges the pandemic and its flow on effects to women who hold temporary visas, and their children, experiencing family violence in Victoria.

The report details that the impact of COVID 19 and the associated policies pertaining to lockdown, restrictions and support mechanisms, has been to intensify the impact of the exclusion of temporary visa holders. The report findings highlight:

  • Reflecting previous research (Segrave 2017) threats to deport and/or withdraw sponsorship were predominant. Seventy percent of perpetrators were Australian citizens or permanent residents. In 55 percent of cases women were threatened specifically with deportation, in 60 percent of cases threats to/withdrawing sponsorship were recorded.
  • Over three quarters of the women in this study feared harm/death at the hands of their perpetrator.
  • Financial and housing issues were significant under the conditions of COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions: women were seeking support to afford food and rental payments. Of those who were in the paid work force, 70 per cent lost their jobs.
  • COVID-19 had a ricochet impact across access to support: processes that required documentation, signatures, independent verification, all were delayed and slowed because of closure of some services (eg libraries where many rely on access to computers, the internet and printers) and the other system delays (eg IVO hearings adjourned for many months) impacted the progress, for example, of applications to access the Family Violence Provisions to seek Permanent Residency.
  • The Report highlights the need for immediate and long-term support for this group, who because of the visa they hold are afforded limited access to support and services under pre-COVID conditions and for whom the impact of COVID-19 has been significant.

This project sits within the broader Melbourne Experiment project under the Sustainable Development Theme Research Agenda 2020 and Cities Initiative at Monash University.



Migrant and Refugee Women in Australia Survey

In partnership with the Harmony Alliance, the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre is conducting the ‘Migrant and Refugee Women in Australia Survey’. This is a national survey to increase understandings of the issues of importance to women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, with a focus on safety and well-being. Findings from the survey will inform advocacy for migrant and refugee women from their own views and experiences.

The survey is offered in nine languages (Arabic, Thai, Vietnamese, Farsi, Nepali, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Punjabi and English).

Take the survey

Temporary migration and family violence: An analysis of victimisation, support and vulnerability (completed 2017)

Partner Investigator/s: InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence

The aim of this project was to undertake a comprehensive review of family violence cases managed by inTouch that involve women (victims) who have or are experiencing family violence whose migration status is temporary. The project was based on 300 cases involving temporary visa holders seeking support for family violence in 2016/2017. The report documented the ways in which migration status is connected to and impacts both vulnerabilities to family violence and access to support. The project also documented the breadth of situations of violence and exploitation, identifying, for example, the extent to which some cases may better be identified as cases of human trafficking and in so doing contribute towards the development of a risk assessment tool to enhance both data gathering and improved access to the appropriate legal and welfare-related support.


Evaluation for the Northern Community Legal Centre of Abused and Abandoned: Family Violence in the Australian Indian Community

Chief Investigator: Associate Professor Marie Segrave, with Prabha Bogodaarachchige

This research will review the implementation of a two-year dedicated response to supporting Indian-born women who have experienced family violence to access legal and migration support, and to enhance connection to services and community. The report will review the implementation of the project and reflect on lessons learned for the role and impact of community legal centres as key points of access to support and complex legal and migration systems.