I am a Migrant and Refugee woman

I feel afraid of my partner.
My partner uses threats about my visa status to make me do things he wants.
I am afraid to talk to others in my community about my relationship with my partner.

You are not alone
Domestic violence or any violence that happens in your home or in your family is unacceptable in Australia.

Does this sound familiar?

  • Does your partner or a person in your household:
  • make fun of your faith, your knowledge and the way you practice your faith
  • use your children to control and have power against you
  • use an Imam in the mosque or Pastor in a church to advise you to be a good wife
  • threaten to deport you
  • threaten to isolate you from your children
  • hide or destroy your Visa and your documents (Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate).

This is domestic violence and is never acceptable! You are NOT alone!

Research in Australia suggests that women in Australia who have been born in other countries or who identify strongly with other cultures through language, custom and religion are even more likely to experience violence and abuse.

Mouzos & Makkai, 2004, Women’s Experiences of Male Violence Findings from the Australian Component of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS)

It doesn’t have to be this way!
In Australia you have the right to:

  • Be safe and live in peace and away from domestic and family violence.
  • Be independent and have financial security.
  • Have a choice where to live and who to live with.
  • Have a choice to work and where to work.
  • Have access to information about your Visa status, and your rights in Australian society.
  • Have access to education and training.
  • Have access to information about service providers.
  • Have access to support services when required.


What can I do?
Remember you can always have access to an interpreter. If you are using a telephone interpreter, it is okay to ask for someone from Interstate to protect your identity. Do not pressure or ask children to act as interpreters. This can lead them to feeling guilty and responsible.

If you are in immediate danger call the police on 000.
If you are experiencing domestic violence you can talk to someone for support or information. Domestic violence support workers are trained to understand what might be happening for you and services that can help.
If you need to talk to someone about domestic or family violence:

  • After hours counselling support
    1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
    24 hour service
  • Southern Domestic Violence Service
    (08) 8382 0066
    Monday–Friday 9am–5pm

You can also ask for help from your doctor, Centrelink social worker or any other place you trust such as a Community Centre or Children’s Centre. Click here for information on people who can help.
If you want to leave a situation of domestic or family violence and have nowhere to go you can contact DV Gateway (1800 800 098). The Gateway will offer support, assess your situation and work with you to find alternative accommodation in a safe area. If you are ringing after 5pm or on the weekend you will reach the Homelessness Gateway and you need to say that you are experiencing domestic violence and you are not safe in your home. They will help you get the help you need. Contact the police for help and protection for yourself and your children to remove the perpetrator or leave a situation.
Write down the phone numbers of family and friends overseas. If you decide to leave your partner, call your family overseas and tell them your situation, tell them you are safe and they don’t need to worry. This means you would have spoken to them before your partner contacts them and they will know your side of the story.


Services for me
Women from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds often have extra challenges to overcome when leaving a situation of violence or abuse. You can get help, advice and/or information from Domestic Violence support workers who are trained to support women from a range of cultures and communities.

Talk to your community leader, English teacher, Doctor, Case manager, Church Pastor, Dentist, Social Worker or professional you trust. They have a duty of care to support you and offer help.

When leaving a domestic violence relationship you can go to a number of different places including:

  • Migrant Resource Centre (MRC)
  • GP+
  • Refugee Association
  • Migrant Health Service (MHS)
  • Relationships Australia (RASA)
  • Member of Parliament Office
  • Women’s Health Statewide
  • Hospital

Remember to ask for information in your language.


What about my legal rights and my ability to stay in Australia?
To find out more about the legal rights for you and your children look here. If you are worried about your Visa, citizenship status or any other issues around your Australian residency, you can seek support from these services:

Department of Immigration and Citizenship
The Family Violence Provisions (FVP) of Australia’s migration program enables some women applying for permanent residence in Australia to continue with their application after the breakdown of their marriage or relationship, if they or a member of their family have experienced family violence by their partner.

Legal Services Commission – Migration Section
This section (http://www.lsc.sa.gov.au/cb_pages/legal_advice_migration.php) of the commission, may be able to provide you with advice and representation in relation to your immigration status and applying for permanent residency. To book an appointment ring 8463 3555. The Commission will provide interpreters for those clients who need them. Just let them know when booking an appointment if you need an interpreter.

Australian Refugee Association
Provide support to migrants and refugees. To contact them call 8354 2951 and to find out more about the services they offer, visit their website.

Red Cross
The Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme (a form of income support) for women who have applied for a protection visa and cannot get Centrelink Income Support. To contact them call 8100 4500.

Speak another language?
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship offers many of its resources translated into other languages.


What about my children?
If you have children in your care they need to be safe too. Domestic violence has an impact on children of all ages, whether they witness the actual violence or not. For information on children and violence click here, and on the legal rights for you and your children click here.

For advice on how to manage the legal and financial impacts of leaving a violent relationship and to find out more about your rights and where you can get help here.


What about my community?
Other women in your community need not be put at risk by you seeking support from professionals.

The first step is to make a call. 1800 RESPECT offers interpreters and telephone counseling. It’s important to tell someone what is happening. Your safety and the safety of your children is very important. When you talk to a professional it is their duty to support you.