Changes endorsed by NSW major parties will enhance domestic and family violence (DFV) support for women and children, particularly for at-risk cohorts such as refugees and migrants, according to leading non-profit Settlement Services International (SSI).
Over the weekend, NSW Labor pledged $7 million to support migrant and refugee women and children experiencing DFV, including establishing a new, specialist multicultural DFV centre, in partnership with SSI. Yesterday, the NSW Government announced a $2 million grant program for multicultural organisations to apply for funding to address DFV and sexual violence, with one-off grants of $20,000 to $150,000 available. The government has also announced a pre-election commitment enacting affordable housing reforms to help victim-survivors leaving situations of DFV, which NSW Labor has matched.
SSI Head of Women, Equity and Domestic Violence Dr Astrid Perry said it was heartening to see acknowledgment of the endemic issue of DFV and the need to provide greater support to keep women and children safe.
“DFV is a violation of a person’s human rights. Every person has the right to feel and be safe at home, irrespective of visa or residency status,” she said.
“Culture is not linked to violence, but the threshold of what constitutes violence differs across cultures. As such, effective approaches to address and prevent violence needs to be tailored across communities.”
Dr Perry said the DFV centre, proposed by Labor as a pre-election commitment, would ensure support for a group of women and children who often slipped through the cracks of the current system, which is stretched as it is.
“This isn’t about preferencing one group of victim-survivors over another – this is about levelling the playing field. All communities experience DFV, but refugee and migrant communities face unique barriers that mean they often struggle to access mainstream DFV services,” she said.
“These include language barriers, cultural stigma, visa status, lack of trust and financial insecurity. Unfortunately, this means that women from migrant and refugee communities most often only seek assistance at the point of crisis.
“They are also more likely to remain with or return to the perpetrator. This much needed centre would bridge a gap in support for women and children from migrant and refugee backgrounds, and create greater equity in the availability of support for all victim-survivors, not just those from English-speaking backgrounds.”
About the Specialist Multicultural Domestic and Family Violence Centre:
- NSW Labor has committed to $1.4 million in funding per annum for the centre over a period of four years.
- Based in south-west Sydney, the centre would introduce a holistic, well-informed and culturally appropriate response to gender inequality and DFV right across NSW.
- Working with local service providers, the centre would seek solutions that align with the client’s culture and do not further dislocate them from their culture and community.
- Staff would engage with community networks to facilitate support from the community and work with multicultural communities in the primary prevention space.
- In addition to supporting women, the centre would also build the capacity of existing DFV services to tailor their support for refugee and migrant women and provide research and policy input.
SSI is a national not-for profit organisation that provides life-changing human and social services to a diverse Australia. We support new Australians in settlement, and offer services and programs in disability, community support, aged care, education and training, employment and more. It supports around 50,000 individuals a year, including up to 20,000 refugees.
SSI Head of Executive Communications and Media, Hannah Gartrell