Settlement Services International (SSI) welcomes the Federal Government’s Women’s Budget Statement and its Budget 2021 women’s safety package, in particular measures to help culturally diverse women victims of family and domestic violence (FDV).
SSI is a community organisation and social business that among other things delivers an FDV program in Queensland, a capacity building program for female leaders as social responders and a men's behaviour change program in language and culture in NSW.
It also provides programs (the Humanitarian Settlement Program, Settlement Engagement and Transition Support, and National Community Hubs Program) that the Women’s Budget Statement notes build trusting relationships with refugees and other migrants in the delivery of services and SSI is often a first port of call for information and support.
Working with people from CALD backgrounds primarily, it has first-hand experience how FDV affects families and women in particular.
In its submission and evidence referenced in the report of the parliamentary inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence, SSI said that circumstances that particularly affected migrants included: recent arrival, temporary visa status, entrenched patriarchal structures and attitudes, financial dependence on the perpetrator, lack of community support and fear of shaming the family and community.
SSI argued that there was “a lack of focus” on CALD communities in primary prevention messages, that messages “need to be targeted to CALD communities” and that “new arrival programs must include primary prevention programs”.
Some challenges faced by women from CALD backgrounds are addressed in the Budget.
The Budget’s Women’s Safety Package included $998.1 million in funding for initiatives to reduce, and support the victims of family, domestic and sexual violence against women and children.
SSI noted $507.3 million to implement programs and initiatives to support women and children who have been subjected to FDV, including:
- $164.8 million for a two year trial program to provide financial support of up to $5,000 to women fleeing a violent relationship
- $29.3m to be spent to improve migrant and refugee women’s safety through early intervention, grassroots programs, and social and economic inclusion support
- $10.3m to be spent over two years to extend the pilot program supporting women on temporary visas experiencing family violence, who often cannot access services because of their visa status
Dr Astrid Perry, SSI’s Manager Strategic Policy, said, “This budget is an important step toward ending violence against women and their children.
“Equitable access to prevention and FDV services is an important right for all people. This requires commitment at all levels of government to affirm the shared responsibility to deliver a more culturally responsive FDV service system.
“We are pleased the government has extended the pilot program supporting women on temporary visas because the safety of women and children has to be put before visa status.
“We are also pleased to see some recognition of the needs of migrant communities for specialised support.
“Supporting women with FDV is a major challenge for our settlement services when there are so few specialist services and many of those are under resourced. Therefore we welcome the injection of funds for migrant communities and for frontline FDV services.”