CatholicCare refuge changing lives for women experiencing domestic violenceJune 2, 2021
Imagine coming to Australia from another country with your husband and two young children, only to find yourself living in fear from domestic violence, with nowhere to turn, no income, unable to speak the language and seemingly no way out.
This was the situation for Farida and her children before she found the safety and support of a CatholicCare women’s refuge, which she says has changed her life.
Farida says her abuse began in their country of origin and continued after they arrived in Australia. When authorities became aware of their situation, her husband cut off her income and even cut off her internet access.
The type of visa she was on precluded her from receiving any government support, including access to Medicare.
After contacting a domestic violence crisis centre, Farida and her children were referred to CatholicCare’s women’s refuge, where they have now been living for several months.
“It has been so good,” Farida says through an interpreter. “We’re living here without paying rent, my children are at school and in childcare and they have friends and are happy. Everyone here has helped me.”
Apart from providing accommodation, CatholicCare has also supported Farida in a variety of other ways.
“They gave me a lawyer and a migration lawyer and now I have a bridging visa. Someone comes to teach me English every Monday too,” she says.
Along with the free immigration advice and support, CatholicCare has also arranged for emergency relief and basic support needs, school transfers for the children, access to a Victims’ Services Immediate Supports Package, counselling, childcare and access to government supports such as Medicare.
Farida says it is her hope that she will be able to stay in Australia where it will be safer for her and her children than being forced to return to the home city of her husband.
“If I go back to his city, he’ll take my children,” she says.
“I want to stay here. It’s safer here in Australia.”
She says she is profoundly grateful for the help she and her children have received from the staff at CatholicCare.
“They are very helpful,” she says. “They understand our suffering and they are living with us every moment. We appreciate their help.”
Farida says she would encourage other women in her situation to seek help in breaking free from domestic violence.
“Here in this country there are rights for women and kids and every woman has a right to say no. I encourage every woman to use her rights and be safe,” she says.
She says while she is still not socialising a lot because she doesn’t want to share details of her living situation, she has found some friends.
“I have one or two friends now and that’s enough for me,” she says.
She is delighted to see her children thriving in their new environment.
“My child at school is playing and laughing with friends and seeing a psychologist. Everything is better and everything is going to be okay in the future and that is very good.”
*Names have been changed to protect privacy