Round table on immigration visas and domestic violence matters

October 14, 2019

Late September two of our Waitara Family Centre staff attended a round table event with Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens Senator for NSW to discuss and advocate for the important issues pertaining to women and children who find themselves with no visa status after suffering from domestic violence.

Our Domestic Violence Response Enhancement (DVRE) and Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS) teams in Northern Sydney are working intensively in this space. 37% of our Hornsby population are born overseas, increasing the likelihood of visa abuse.

We are hoping the round table event encourages the Senate to recognise Domestic & Family Violence in immigration visa matters and that more needs to be done to support this client group. We need to prioritise the safety of women and their children. We convene again in April 2020 and will continue our important advocacy and support work in the meantime.

The round table members included:

Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Greens senator for NSW
@mehreenfaruqi | 9211 1500

Women’s Community Shelters
Women’s Community Shelters works with communities to establish new shelters, which provide short term emergency accommodation and support in a safe environment that enables homeless women to rebuild self-esteem and achieve control and fulfilment of their lives. At a time of reduced government spending, Women’s Community Shelters offers a new and ground-breaking ‘tri-partite’ funding model in which Government, philanthropy/business and
community all work to provide funding to establish and operate shelters.

Women’s Safety NSW
WDVCAS NSW is the peak, state-wide body representing the 29 individual WDVCAS services that operate across New South Wales supporting women and their children who are experiencing domestic violence. We are an independent voice for our members, who are the 29 WDVCAS services and their clients, as well as associate members. We operate from a human rights and feminist perspective to support better outcomes for women and children experiencing domestic violence. We identify and advocate on domestic violence issues within social, political and legal contexts, at both state and national levels.

Settlement Services International
SSI is a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential. We work with all people who have experienced vulnerability, including refugees, people seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to build capacity and enable them to overcome inequality

Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association NSW
Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association is the peak advocacy, information/referral and research body representing the ideas and issues of immigrant and refugee women in NSW. The Association also undertakes community development projects and provides direct services including in the areas of homelessness, domestic violence and employment, education and training. Speakout is a community-based organisation, managed by women of
non-English speaking background.

Women’s Housing Company
The Women’s Housing Company will provide affordable and safe housing for women who meet our eligibility criteria, while providing a high level of housing management services through the work of the skilled management and staff.

Shakti NSW
Shakti is a social transformation organisation led by and for women of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origins. We are dedicated to delivering prevention and intervention in critical areas like domestic violence to immigrant women and children facing culturally-sanctioned oppressive practices and abuse that leaves them disempowered and dependent. Our culturally-specialist family violence intervention and prevention services prioritises safety of marginalised women and children in extremely high-risk circumstances such as under-aged/forced marriage, dowry-related violence, female genital mutilation and honour-based violence. In doing so, we challenge the intergenerational bonds of cultural and social oppression – that subjugates and violates human rights – and thereby promote social change.

Muslim Women’s Association
We are a group of educated professional Australian Muslim women. Some of us are converts and all of us are Australian. We recognise the beauty of Islam and wish to integrate it into our personal lives and those of our families and communities. We are not allied with any ethnic group or any particular interpretation of Islam, but welcome all open-minded Muslim women. We also offer Referral Services for Women experiencing Domestic and Family Violence.

Immigration Advice and Rights Centre
We specialise in providing free, expert, and confidential legal advice and assistance. Our clients are financially disadvantaged, over 85% come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and frequently have low level English language skills. Many experience multiple layers of disadvantage including homelessness, low education levels, disability and mental incapacity. They have often experienced past torture and trauma. Our work is mostly focused on assisting with family and humanitarian visas and citizenship, including reuniting families and keeping families together. People on spousal and partner visas, child visas, carer visas, and protection visas are also a focus for us. Providing migration advice where there is family violence has increasingly become a key focus of our work.

Bonnie Support Services
We are an all-female not-for-profit support service, working for more than 40 years with the women and children of South-Western Sydney. Our priority and specialisation is in supporting women who are escaping domestic/family violence. Our service was originally underpinned by a feminist philosophy and this continues to drive everything we do. Bonnie’s recognises that Aboriginal women and children are over represented in their experience of domestic violence and homelessness. We are committed to working with the local Aboriginal community and to offer culturally appropriate and supportive services to our Indigenous sisters and their children.

Open Support
Open Support is a not-for profit, community service organisation committed to addressing the unmet and changing needs of the most vulnerable in our community. Open Support has been at the forefront of addressing social need since it was established by Sisters of Charity Australia as part of St Vincent’s Clinic in 1990. Open Support is a designated social services ministry within Mary Aikenhead Ministries. As such, the organisation has a direct association with the Ministries’ health and aged care ministry, St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA), Australia’s largest Catholic not-for-profit health and aged care provider. Open Support has a small staff base of both full and part time employees, as well as a strong and dedicated volunteer workforce of over 200 volunteers, who are integral to the delivery of many of our core services and operational areas.

Jesuit Refugee Service
JRS accompanies, serves and advocates for refugees and people seeking asylum and other forcibly displaced people in our own country. These people face destitution, limbo and homelessness as Government policy grows increasingly unwelcoming and punitive. We offer dignity and hope through emergency assistance, temporary shelter, a foodbank, professional casework, community activities, employment support, school engagement, legal advice, targeted advocacy, and a project to empower women seeking asylum. We have a strong alliance with parishes, communities and schools across Australia, religious orders, local and state governments, refugee organisations and campaigns and coalitions.

CatholicCare Diocese of Broken Bay
We are the social care agency of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Broken Bay. Whilst we are a Catholic agency, we provide services to the entire community, regardless of religion, circumstance, ethnicity, economic situation, age, gender or ability. With funding from both the Federal and New South Wales governments and a workforce of more than 600 people, we provide disability services and NDIS support, foster care and out of home care services as well as children’s services including early learning and care centres, out of school hours care, vacation care, family day care and in home care. We also have Family Centres offering counselling, domestic and family violence support, family dispute resolution and mediation, parenting and relationship education, emergency relief and housing and homelessness support. We also provide hospital chaplaincy, pastoral care and crisis support.

Salvos Legal
We are a social enterprise firm providing expert and practical legal advice in the areas of commercial law, immigration and citizenship, property, not for profit law, wills and estates. We work mostly with governments, not for profit organisations, small to medium size enterprises, and individuals. All the profits from Salvos Legal is used to fund Salvos Legal Humanitarian , which is a free law firm for people who need help the most, those who do not qualify for any government funded legal assistance. Salvos Legal and Salvos Legal Humanitarian are both wholly owned by The Salvation Army.

Anti-Slavery Australia
We protect the human rights of trafficked and enslaved people through research, policy development, law reform, professional practice, education and advocacy. Located in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney, our legal centre provides access to comprehensive legal advice and assistance to people who have experienced human trafficking, slavery or forced marriage in Australia. This includes advice on migration, criminal
law, family law and compensation. We co-convene the Trafficking Response Network and the NSW Forced Marriage Network with the Australian Red Cross . The networks bring together a range of community-based
groups and organisations working collaboratively to address human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, including forced marriage.

Asylum Seekers Centre
The Asylum Seekers Centre is a place of welcome and provides practical and personal support for people living in the community who are seeking asylum. Our services include accommodation, legal advice, financial relief, health care, employment assistance, education, food, material aid and recreational activities. We draw on the direct daily experience of people seeking asylum to develop and promote campaigns to improve public laws and policies, working with other services to bring about needed change. We are a not-for-profit organisation with a voluntary Board of Directors. We rely on philanthropic grants, individual donations, some state government support, a dedicated team of professional staff and hundreds of volunteers to undertake our work.

Domestic and family violence knows no demographic boundaries and can have lifelong impacts. The statistics are alarming. CatholicCare is there to meet ever-increasing demand. Contact us for more information on (02) 9481 2600 or email


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