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DV Project Report 2001-2002

Workers During The Year:
April Pham - Domestic Violence Policy Officer (July 2001- March 2002)
Shahana Rasool Bassadien - Domestic Violence Policy Officer (from June 2002)
Jayantha Alwishewa - Domestic Violence Project Officer
Mirna Tarabay - Locum Domestic Violence Project Officer
(July 2001- November 2001)
Clorinda Lee - Domestic Violence Project Officer (December 2001- April 2002)
Jane Corpuz-Brock - Locum Domestic Violence Project Officer
(Two days per week from 29 April - June 2002)

Overview Of The Year

2001/2002 was a year of excitement, change and transition for the Domestic Violence Team. The team performed beyond the scope of our duties to respond to the eruption of racial vilification of migrant and refugee women, and their communities, as a result of catastrophic world events. This devastating political environment, in which immigrants and refugees are seen as the 'other', required the team to extend our time and resources into responding to the global crisis that resulted in refugees being demonised by politicians, the media and the community at large because they exercised their right to seek asylum in Australia.

We have supported migrant and refugee women by helping them create a safe space to speak about violence. We have pursued this goal through the Women Reporting Violence Forum and the promotion of "Hate Free Zones" for migrant and refugee communities.

We participated and presented at conferences, including the Expanding Our Horizons International Violence Against Women conference. We actively took part in activities to educate and eliminate domestic violence from our communities through the Stop DV Day.

Our list of clients has increased, with the team having a waiting list for the very first time. This is indicative of the high demand for crisis counselling and support by NESB women, both with and without immigration issues.

There have been some major changes in staffing over the year, with Mirna Tarabay our locum DV Project Officer leaving and Clorinda Lee coming back to her position. Clorinda then left in early April and Jane Brock joined us for a short period. April Pham, who has been the Domestic Violence Policy Officer for the past 4½ years, regrettably, left the team to finish her law degree. This was a real loss for Speakout, but we are pleased that she continues to advocate for the eradication of violence against women through her part-time position in the Attorney General's Violence Against Women Unit. We wish her well in her new position and with her studies. We also said a sad farewell to Clorinda Lee, who has been a long-standing member of the team. We wish Clorinda the best of luck in her position as Ethnic Liaison Officer for NSW Police Service.

Our networks have been extended enormously through the many projects and activities that we undertook. Below are some of the highlights of the team's work in 2001/2002.

POLICY AND ADVOCACY

The policy and advocacy work of the team included continued monitoring of the Domestic Violence Provisions (DVP) in the Migration Regulations. We advocated for NESB women through a number of consultative and review committees, including:
§ The review of the women's electoral lobby policy
§ The review of the Property (Relationships) Act 1984 (NSW)
§ The review of the Quarter Way to Equal Report.
§ DOCS DV Policy reference group
§ The Shelter NSW consultations
§ The Western Sydney Strategic Plan for Homelessness.
§ HEROC Consultations on racism

CASE WORK

Number Of Cases
· During the reported period, we supported 101 women by providing on-going casework, counselling and support in domestic violence situations. A total of 249 face-to-face interviews and 343 telephone interviews and sessions were conducted with the above 101 clients. These clients were referred to us by friends, ex-clients, Migrant Resource Centres, legal centres, Adult Migrant English classes, hospitals, police, community health centres, family support services, refuges, the Domestic Violence Line, Centrelink, and ethnic organisations.

· 431 casual or one off sessions were conducted either by phone or face to face. Referrals were made and/ or required information was provided. Most of the inquiries were in relation to domestic violence and immigration issues. Other main issues were housing, women's support groups, family law matters, counselling services, accommodation etc.

Casework Support Included:
· Crisis and ongoing counselling
· Liaison with Police, DIMIA, Centrelink, Housing and other government and non government organisations
· Support of women in court in application for Apprehended Violence Orders or other relevant matters
· Organisation of emergency accommodation
· Assistance to women to apply for priority housing and long term housing
· Location and liaison with competent persons in supporting incident of DV
· Provision of immigration advice to NESB women experiencing domestic violence
· Writing of support letters and submissions to DIMIA for clients applying permanent residency under domestic violence provisions
· Referral of women to legal advisors, on-going counselling/psychological treatment, employment assistance, English classes
· Advocacy on behalf of women with government and non-government organisations

Problems Identified Included:
· Women facing abuse (physical, verbal, psychological, emotional, social and financial)
· Lack of permanent residence status
· Difficulty in getting AVO for non-physical abuse cases
· Lack of emergency placements
· Lack of culturally appropriate refuge placement
· Difficulty in obtaining private accommodation (financially and discriminative)
· Lack of income for some clients

Telephone Sessions/Casual Clients Problems and requests included:
· Information and support on Domestic Violence
· Information on Family Law matters re separation, divorce, parenting order, property settlement
· Information and support re disputes with neighbours
· Applying for priority housing
· Information on women's groups, counselling services
· Information on Immigration Law matters re family migration, prospective spouse visa, temporary/bridging visas, student visas etc
· Information on English classes
· Information on Ethnic specific workers
· Compliance with government organisations

Issues/Concerns Identified Through Client Work
· There has been a rapid increase in the number of women seeking assistance and support with immigration issues, particularly women who are partners of Australian citizens and experiencing domestic violence. Working with clients who need to apply under domestic violence provisions is time consuming, e.g. chasing services and workers to write support letters and statutory declaration form 1040; finding accommodation and other support for women without any income, particularly for women who are on Bridging visas (whose applications are not yet assessed for a temporary spouse visa). These tasks are becoming more difficult.
· Interpreters are used for clients who speak little or no English. Finding interpreters is an issue, particularly for some languages. Although we can access free interpreters through TIS, when the quota is finished we have to wait until there is a place available. In such a situation if a woman is in crisis we have to book an interpreter through private interpreting agencies. At times it's difficult to find female interpreters.
· Difficulties in accessing legal support regarding Family Law matters
· Lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate information on available services
· No access to income support for women with temporary visa/bridging visas
· Increased number of women with bridging visas
· Prejudice against NESB women
· The failure of other organisations to use interpreters to communicate with NESB women
· Inadequate services to support women leaving abusive relationships
· Lack of bilingual support workers for NESB communities

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WORK

· Redfern Legal Centre - AVO Project
· Court Support - Penrith, Parramatta and Blacktown local Court one day per month
· "Family violence in newly arrived refugee families" - service providers consultation - organised by Refugee Council of Australia, 14 June 2002.
· Forum on Homelessness - organised by Western Sydney Community Forum, June 18, 2002.
· "Service Link and Referral Link Program", NSW Department of Information Technology, June 25, 2002
· Involved in a research project conducted by the Social Work Department of Sydney University: focus on domestic violence and safety planning
· Reclaim the night rally
· Domestic/Family Violence Review - 3 forums held in Blacktown, organized by The outer west domestic violence committee
· Sri Lankan Settlement in Australia, a seminar held in Sydney
· Families First Consultation held on 11 April 2002
· Merrylands Stop DV Day
· Provision of immigration advice at IARC outreach service at Parramatta twice a month
· Launch of Holroyd Parramatta Migrant Services 'Family Harmony Project'

Major Committees And Networks
· Apprehended Violence and Legal Issues Coordinating Committee
· NCOSS SAAP Peaks
· Violence Against Women Regional Reference Group, Western Sydney
· Parramatta and Holroyd Domestic Violence Committee
· DOCS DV Forum
· Peak Women's and Other Organisations Meeting - Department for Women
· Domestic Violence in New and Emerging Communities Forum
· Holroyd-Parramatta Multicultural Network
· Parramatta Domestic Violence Committee
· MAC meeting
· SAAP Services meeting
· Auburn Domestic Violence Committee
· Canterbury Domestic Violence committee
· Women's Issues Network
· Australian Chinese Community Association - DV Project Steering Committee
· Western Sydney Chinese Workers Network
· TMHC Chinese sub-committee
· Bankstown DV Committee

Short Term Steering Committees And Working Parties
· Singhalese Telephone Information and Referral Service: advisory committee
· Auburn Health Expo: organizing Committee and evaluation meeting
· "Celebrating Women from many Cultures" - International Women's Day Parramatta: organising committee and information stall
· Holroyd-Parramatta Migrant Services 'Family Harmony Project': steering committee

Information Stalls
· Reclaim the night rally and stall
· Stop DV Day Information Stall in Bondi Junction
· "Celebrating Women from many Cultures" - International Women's Day Parramatta

CONFERENCE/SEMINAR AND FORUM PRESENTATIONS

· Expanding Our Horizons International Violence Against Women Conference
We participating in the organising committee for this conference and presented a paper on the Place of Culture in Domestic Violence, and convened a workshop on working with culturally and linguistically diverse women. We chaired the closing of the conference. The conference was a great opportunity to extend networks and raise the profile of NESB women and violence at state, national and international levels.
· Women's DV Court Assistance Scheme: NESB Women's Access to the Legal System
· Family and Community Services: The work of Speakout, the DV Project and Key issues for migrant and refugee women
· Bankstown Domestic Violence Forum: NESB Women's Issues in DV
· Parramatta International Women's Day, Celebrating Women
· Fairfield International Women's Day March
· Reclaim the Night Media Panel, Bankstown: Sexual assault and violence against women
· Refugee Week in Merrylands: Violence against women: A Global perspective Refugee Week in Fairfield, FIRWN: A Message of solidarity for refugee women Launching Vietnamese Refugee Boat Project: A comparative look at Vietnamese Refugees and the current refugee crisis, Gallery 4A
· Vietnamese Refugees Panel: contributions of migrant and refugee women, identity, and achievements, Gallery 4A
· Public Right to Know Forum
· Granville Multicultural Centre AGM: Celebrating multiculturalism and diversity Women's DV Court Assistance Programme Conference 2002 - "Domestic Violence is a Child Protection Issue: Government and Community Responses."
· Botany Migrant Resource Centre: presentation about IWSA
· Auburn Purple Ribbon Campaign: presentation on domestic violence and child protection issues
· Auburn Health Expo: information session on domestic violence and immigration issues
· Information session for Korean Volunteers on 12 March 2002
· St George TAFE information session for Welfare Students on DV and Cross Cultural Issues
· "Russian Women, Domestic Violence and Immigration Issues" presentation at the seminar organized by Russian CSS Worker, held on 18 April 2002
· Presentation on Referral Procedures on a DV situation for Staff of IWSA
· Presentation for external supervision group - "DV and immigration issues"

Training Provided

Training is a key component of the work of the DV team. We aim to promote awareness among community workers of the issues faced by NESB women in domestic violence situations as well provide them with information on the domestic violence provisions in the immigration law.
· "Domestic Violence Provision of the Migration regulations"
· Cross Cultural Domestic Violence Training in Dubbo, Lightning Ridge and Moree
· Domestic violence and DVP Training for Westmead Hospital Social Workers, 27/02/02.
· DVP Training for community workers
· St George DV Committee,"Domestic Violence Provision of the Migration Regulations", 2805/02
· Gosford DV Committee, "Domestic Violence and NESB Women's Training, 17/06/02
· Domestic Violence Mock Presentation for IWSA staff

Training Attended

· SAAP Data Training
· Case Management in SAAP Advance
· Migration courses and seminars
· IWSA Planning Day