Women on visas are at particular risk of family violence

In the Parliament, I called on the government to join with Labor in committing to offer support to women who are particularly vulnerable - like women whose partners are here on 457 visas.

Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (15:48): I rise to support the bill but also to call on the government to do more in relation to family and domestic violence because women in new migrant communities can be particularly vulnerable in relation to family violence. The reasons for that vulnerability include: attitudes towards violence, a lack of expertise and cultural knowledge on the part of mainstream community workers, English language proficiency, trust by victims towards mainstream services, specialist and culturally sensitive women's health and domestic violence services and victims' awareness about existing services.

For those reasons we took to the election a policy of committing $3.8 million over four years toward developing pilot programs that assist new migrants in gaining access to family and domestic violence services. We also took to the election a policy of creating a new form of visa. The reason we did that is that, as I said, this is a particularly vulnerable population. Those on a secondary visa are particularly vulnerable amongst that population because they rely on staying with their spouse. Seventy per cent of all secondary 457 visa holders are women. It is not just the visa conditions that make it hard for women to leave when they are facing violent relationships. A lack of economic independence can be a significant impediment, and those temporary visa holders do not have access at the moment to the family violence provisions in the migration act.

As I say, the ALRC has identified this as a problem, as did the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. That is why I join the shadow minister in calling on the government to support our policy which we took to the election to create a new temporary visa for victims of family violence who are secondary holders of a temporary visa.

The new form of visa must carry work rights. If you are the spouse of a 457 visa holder and you are facing violence at home, and your stay in Australia is contingent on staying in that relationship. Even if you could leave, you would not be able to support yourself and your children. The problem for that person is particularly obvious. So, while I rise to support the bill, I also call on the government to do more for women on visas and to do more for women from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

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