Li* fell in love with an Australian man she met whilst he was visiting her home country and ended up relocating to Australia to join him. They later had a daughter together, who is now pre-school aged.
Li’s partner drinks on a daily basis and abuses her in front of their daughter. Child protection services have been involved and Li has considered leaving the relationship. However, due to her temporary visa status, she is not eligible for assistance with housing nor income support beyond the Family Tax Benefit.
The NSW Government currently provides a range of crisis and transitional accommodation supports to victims of domestic and family violence seeking to escape the violence and abuse they are experiencing. However, presently these supports are not available to women on temporary visas.
This means – plain and simple – that these women, and their children, women like Li and her daughter, simply don’t have the choice to escape.
Women’s safety, domestic violence and community workers, agencies and advocacy bodies have been raising this critical issue with the NSW Government for many years, but during the COVID-19 pandemic our attempts to get the message across have become all the more desperate.
In the words of one frontline domestic and family violence worker “I just don’t understand why the government doesn’t seem to care about these women and their babies. Don’t they understand that we’re forcing them back into what can only be described as a living hell? No-one would agree with this if they actually met one of these families… It’s exhausting.”
On 3 April 2020, the National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence delivered an Open Letter to the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Mark Speakman SC MP, urging him to act immediately to ensure that people on temporary visas experiencing violence have full and immediate access to the supports they need to achieve safety.
The NSW Women’s Alliance have delivered another letter today, pleading with the Minister to heed that request.
Women’s Safety NSW’s plea is raw – please Minister, listen to the screams of women on temporary visas and their children experiencing violence. Ensure they can access emergency and transitional accommodation support to escape the violence and abuse to which they are being subjected.
For until we make this critical change, Li and her daughter will continue to face daily terror, as will all the other women on temporary visas and their children experiencing violence in this State.