CALD women may experience additional barriers to leaving violence as a result of community pressures or lack of understanding about family violence. At the same time, for many women, community, cultural or religious groups are a source of support during and following family violence.

Within different cultural communities, there may be different expectations that women are expected to adhere to and these may impact upon women’s decisions or ability to access support. For example, CALD women may come from communities where ‘gendered roles in family life, expectations in marriage, religious customs forbidding separation or divorce’[1] are prominent. Family violence may be seen as something to be dealt with within the community[2]. If women disclose experiences of violence, they may be seen to have brought shame to their family and face isolation from their family or community[3]. Women may also experience social shame and social restrictions that create barriers to accessing support. They may also be concerned about the social consequences for their family, including in their country of origin. Isolation from ones’ community can be especially devastating for women who have already had to leave their families or country of origin.

Women who come from small or tight-knit language or cultural communities may also experience privacy or confidentiality issues, which may prevent them from accessing support.

In addition, CALD women may not report family violence because they are unaware that it is a crime in Australia, or have a lack of knowledge about their rights[4].

Many community, cultural and religious groups and leaders are challenging the traditional scripts that might present barriers to women’s help seeking following family violence in their communities.

Self-reflection questions

  • What are the community barriers and enablers affecting my client’s help-seeking following family violence?
  • How can I ensure that CALD women have access to information about what family violence is and their right to safety?
  • How can I find out about and encourage CALD women to connect with community supports?

Self-reflection tool

Additional resources

Family Safety Pack (2016): the Australian Government’s Family Safety Pack, available in 22 community languages, has information on Australia’s laws regarding domestic and family violence, sexual assault, forced marriage and Partner Visas.

Family Violence is Unacceptable in Any Culture (2015): developed by women in the City of Whittlesea, these brochures are for Arabic-speaking, Persian-speaking and sub-continent communities and aim to explore what family violence is and where to go for support.


[1] ANROWS (2015) “State of Knowledge Paper: Promoting community-led responses to violence against immigrant and refugee women in metropolitan and regional Australia” in Landscapes, Issue 12. ANROWS: Alexandria. p. 25.

[2] ibid, p. 25.

[3] ibid, p. 26.

[4] InTouch (2010) “I lived in fear because I knew nothing” Barriers to the Justice System Faced by CALD Women Experiencing Family Violence. InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence: Melbourne. p. 15.