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This group is continuing its push for a new visa that could help migrant women flee violence

This article contains references to domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.
A multicultural family violence centre will continue its push for the federal government to establish a new visa for victim-survivors on temporary visas to feel safe in Australia.
Victorian-based group inTouch, which advocates for migrant and refugee victim-survivors, has called for the establishment of a three-year specialised visa for women who have been impacted by gender-based violence.
It’s one of 11 recommendations inTouch put to the federal government in March ahead of the .
The in a joint initiative by federal and state and territory leaders, acting as a “blueprint” to eliminate family, domestic and sexual violence.
The plan acknowledged that perpetrators use the temporary visas of victim-survivors as a form of control and abuse, as well as the limited support services that are available to them.
“Migrant women, including those on temporary visas, also face structural barriers other women do not, such as the impact ending a relationship has on their visa status and eligibility for social security,” the plan said.

It suggested that restrictions on existing temporary visas to access services could be eased to allow victim-survivors from migrant or refugee backgrounds to feel better supported in Australia.

Michal Morris, chief executive of inTouch, said she was pleased to see the plight of temporary visa holders acknowledged but believes the government needs “more convincing” to establish a new visa for victim-survivors.
She said a new three-year visa that would provide access to Medicare, social services, and school education for children would provide them with the economic independence they needed.
Under inTouch’s proposal, women could then apply for a new visa which could act as a pathway for permanent residency.
“We have to ensure that every woman in Australia who experiences family violence in Australia can get the support to move on from that experience,” Ms Morris said.
“The only way we can do that is by giving her a bit of breathing space around her visa status to move on.

“I think that we do need to continually remind the federal government that the temporary visa Migration Program can be used as a form of coercive control, and is a form of family violence.”

Violence against women a ‘national crisis’

In Australia, one in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15, and one in five has experienced sexual violence. On average, a woman in Australia is killed by an intimate partner every 10 days. First Nations women are 34 times more likely to end up in a hospital at the hands of violence than non-Indigenous women.

“The epidemic of violence against women in this country is a national crisis,” Hayley Foster, CEO of Full Stop Australia, which supports people affected by sexual, domestic or family violence, said.

“We now have the opportunity to stem the flow, turn the tide and ensure that our next generation of women and girls live their lives free from violence.”
National Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said while the plan was “encouraging”, state and national governments must be equipped with the resources to action their goals.
“For this [plan] to succeed, all governments will need to make significant investments in prevention and recovery strategies,” she said in a statement.
The plan comes off the back of the first 12-year national plan, headed by former prime minister Julia Gillard. It helped the establishment of national bodies such as Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), and the 1800RESPECT helpline.
Ms Morris said the past plan has helped pave the way for this government to “do the doing” in tackling gender-based violence.
The first of the two action plans is expected to be released at the end of the year, which will highlight measurable targets for the government to act on.
SBS News has contacted the Department of Home Affairs for comment.
If you or someone you know is impacted by family .and domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit . In an emergency, call 000.

The Men’s Referral Service provides advice for men on domestic violence and can be contacted on 1300 766 491.

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