CALD women who have experienced family violence may face a number of structural or systemic barriers to help-seeking.

Women seeking asylum in Australia who are awaiting the outcome of protection claims may not wish to disclose their experiences of family violence for fear that their partners could be penalised or deported. Asylum seeker women living in the community on temporary visas—as well as migrant women on visa types including student and working visas—are not entitled to social security payments through Centrelink. These women may be financially dependent upon their partners and have limited options to leave if their partners become violent[1].

CALD women are also more likely to experience other kinds of financial insecurity, leading to dependence upon their partners, including ‘difficulty in finding jobs due to discrimination, racism, lack of experience in the labour market in Australia and limited English-language fluency’[2].

CALD women may also experience significant social isolation, including a lack of social supports and language barriers[3]. CALD women are more likely to live in outer suburbs or regionally, where access to transport is difficult. CALD women can be isolated to the extent that they are unable to communicate their abuse to anyone—as such, they are likely to live with violence for much longer than other women before accessing support.

Difficulty in navigating the complex service system also presents a barrier—this difficulty is increased by a lack of information in languages other than English. Women may also be less likely to access services due to poor experiences with the service system in Australia, including experiences of racism, or poor experiences in their country of origin, such as a lack of services or inadequate responses from police or the justice system.

The fact that CALD women may have larger families also impacts upon their ability to access some services, including accommodation.

Self-Reflection Questions

  • What may be some of the systemic or structural barriers that my client has had to face in getting help for family violence? (E.g. immigration issues, isolation and financial or language barriers).
  • How can I support CALD women to navigate the family violence service system?
  • In what ways can I support CALD women who are geographically or socially isolated?
  • How can I ensure information is made available in appropriate languages/dialects and is culturally relevant?

Self-reflection tool

Additional resources

Promoting community-led responses to violence against immigrant and refugee women in metropolitan and regional Australia (2015): this ANROWS state of the knowledge paper examines a broad range of national and international research to present the current knowledge about family violence against immigrant and refugee women.

“I lived in fear because I knew nothing”. Barriers to the Justice System Faced by CALD Women Experiencing Family Violence (2010): this InTouch report outlines the barriers faced by CALD women in accessing services following family violence.

 

[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. 22.

[2] Allimant, A. and B. Ostapiej-Piatkowski (2011) ‘Supporting women from CALD backgrounds who are victims/survivors of sexual violence’ in ACASSA Wrap, No. 9. Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault: Melbourne. p. 5.

[3] 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.28.