Policy Officer: April Pham
Project Officers: Jayantha Alwishewa, Paula Frivola (Locum), Clorinda Lee, and Mirna Tarabay (Locum)
Another busy year for the Domestic Violence Team! The team's time was occupied with:
· responding to policy issues surrounding the proposed changes to the Domestic Violence Provision (DVP) · convening the NSW Stop Domestic Violence Day Committee
· co-ordinating the Women Migration and Domestic Violence Forum
· as well as establishing a Multicultural Women's Group and supporting the Sinhala community to establish infrastructures for service provision to the Sinhala community.
We also travelled to rural areas providing cross- cultural training and building stronger links with these communities. The team has experienced an increasing demand for casework services, with the nature of the casework becoming increasingly complex and time consuming. In the later part of this financial year, the team was busy co-ordinating focus groups for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission on NESB women's experiences of racism in Australia, as well as undertaking a small project with Redfern Legal Centre. At the time of writing both these projects are still in progress.
Internally the team has undergone major staff changes, with Paula Frivola joining the team for 3 months in 2000 while Clorinda Lee was on study leave. Later this year, Clorinda vacated the project to co-ordinate Mimosa House for a year. Again we welcomed another new locum team member Mirna Tarabay (previously from Elsie's) to diversify the experience, languages and networks of the team.
Amid all these changes, there were many achievements, some of which are summarised below.
POLICY and ADVOCACY
The major policy focus this year has been monitoring and responding to the proposed changes of the Domestic Violence Provision in Immigration law. DIMA has proposed to reform this provision by changing the category of people who could provide "competent person" declarations in support of women's claims to domestic violence. As Speakout and other agencies continued to receive referrals from women experiencing domestic violence who have an immigration issue, Speakout's role in providing advocacy on behalf of this group of women is crucial. Speakout has actively participated in forums and discussions to ensure women are aware of their legal rights and are supported to exercise those rights. Policy work this year included the following activities.
Domestic Violence Provision
To discuss and respond to the proposed change to the Domestic Violence Provision, Speakout convened the Women, Migration and Domestic Violence Forum, which was attended by 90 community workers from various government and non-government agencies. This forum provided the opportunity to discuss the ramifications and benefits of the proposed changes. The Hon. Meredith Burgmann addressed the forum while the Hon Phillip Ruddock outlined the proposed changes and took questions and concerns from the floor. The proposed changes were not passed, and as such the DVP remained in force as they have been. However, Speakout continued to monitor the DVP and women's access to it to ensure it is operating appropriately.
Speakout has also liased with various health representatives to raise concerns regarding the reluctance of some health staff including social workers and psychologists to provide 'competent persons' declarations to support women's applications for permanent residence under the DVP. Speakout made submissions to the finalisation of the NSW Department of Health Domestic Violence Policy, recommending that NESB women with immigration issues be supported appropriately.
Migration Institute of Australia (MIA)
The domestic violence team has been liaising with MIA to raise concerns regarding inappropriate advice from solicitors and migration agents on the DVP and women's eligibility to it. It was noted as a resulted of the inadequate and inaccurate advice provided to women, their applications for permanent residence under the DVP were severely delayed. We recommended training on the DVP and for various information to be distributed to migration agents and solicitors. MIA is following up on these recommendations.
Migrant Women Without Income
In early 2000, Speakout and the Women's Refuge Migrant Support Group undertook to conduct a survey of refuges to ascertain the experiences of migrant women without income support accessing refuges. This year the survey results were completed and distributed to a wide range of DV services and ethnic organisations for information and to use as lobbying tools for more resources to NESB women.
An article was also written in conjunction with Meryem Ali from the Refuge Movement focusing on migrant women in domestic violence without income support, which was published in the Parity Homelessness Magazine.
DOCS Domestic Violence Line
Previously Speakout was actively involved on an advisory committee for the DV Line. However, due to a review, the advisory committee has been 'disbanded' with another process to replace the advisory committee. Members of the DV team attended many meetings with the committee to provide feedback on the DV Line relocation to the Teleservice Centre and raised concerns about mechanisms for feedback re the operations of the DV Line when the committee is disbanded. Such concerns are ongoing.
A total of 7 presentations at conferences, forums and seminars to 365 people, including community workers, women and the general community were made through the 2000-2001 period. Presentations raised issues of NESB women's experiences of domestic violence, the impact of immigration issues and domestic violence and the abuse of older women. Presentations included:
· Hornsby Domestic Violence Forum
· YWCA Week Without Violence
· Women and Racism Conference: Violence Against Women presentation
· Seniors Week in Epping: Older Abuse of Women
· Senior Week in Kurringai: Issues affecting NESB women
· Canterbury Domestic Violence Information Day: NESB women, DV and Immigration
· Vietnamese Women's Association Cross Cultural Seminar: Domestic Violence and Immigration
NSW Stop Domestic Violence Day Committee
This year, Speakout worked intensively in co-ordinating the NSW Stop Domestic Violence Day, acting as the convenor and media contact. Due to funding arrangements from the NSW State Management Group, the event was co-ordinated in partnership with non-government agencies only, including Domestic Violence Advocacy Service, Women's Refuge Resource Centre, Charmian Clift Cottages, Manly Warringah Women's Resource Centre and Fairfield Liverpool Women's Domestic Violence Court Assistance Scheme. The aim this year was to gain wide media coverage and focus on women and children's experiences of domestic violence, thus the theme "Give Our Kids a Safe Home". 2000 Posters and 4000 postcards were produced and distributed to metropolitan, regional and rural areas. The resources were extremely in demand. Media coverage was extensive, with articles in most local papers and an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. Media interviews with Chanel 7 TV Sunrise, 2BSB Rock, ABC Tamworth, ABC Broken Hill, 2UE, 2NBC, 2GB, and 2SER were extremely successful. The day was launched at Government House by the NSW Governor, Prof. Marie Bashir, with many women and children in attendance. Overall, the event was a success.
Sinhala Community Project
The DV team has worked intensively with the Sinhala community to establish a culturally appropriate Telephone Information & Referral Service (TIRS) to disseminate information on settlement services for the Sinhala community in NSW. The project was a response to consultations with the Sinhala community conducted by Speakout, Cumberland Women's Health Centre and the Violence Against Women Specialist in Western Sydney. Operated by trained volunteers, the TIRS runs from Parramatta MRC every Thursday 2-5pm
Fairfield Immigrant and Refugee Women's Network (FIRWN)
The DV team has been actively attending FIRWN meetings to initiate a joint project between Speakout and FIRWN to develop DV posters in community languages for NESB communities. The committee has begun production of 2 posters and postcards in 8 community languages, using artwork from the Living Without Violence art exhibition organised by Speakout and other partners in 2000. Collaborations such as this are important to raise the profile of domestic violence amongst NESB communities.
Multicultural Women's Project
Speakout actively worked with the Korean Welfare Association and the Crows Nest Centre to promote interaction between NESB women in North Sydney via a women's group. 20 women participated in workshops organised by the group with members actively attending health, communication, creative arts, First Aid workshops, visiting courts and the community centre to learn about the services provided. The project has been very successful and the members are continuing to maintain the group with the support of the Crows Nest Centre.
Work with Chinese Community
Speakout continued relationships with the Chinese community by; · conducting 4 radio programs with 2CR and SBS on the impact of DV on the community, women without permanent residence and AVO's · providing support and advise in the production of resources on mental health and post natal depression issues
Bangladeshi Women's Group
Speakout provided assistance to the group co-ordinator, Kamrun, to write an application for Council funding to run a support group for Bangladeshi women, with Speakout auspicing and supporting the project.
There was a high demand for Cross Cultural Domestic Violence training this year, in particular from rural areas to work in partnership with Speakout to organise and conduct training for workers and organisations. In total, the team provided 15 training sessions to 225 community workers, volunteers and students. Of these 15 training sessions, there were 7 cross cultural domestic violence one day workshops to community workers in Wagga Wagga, Lismore, Ballina, women's refuges, community centres, ethnic organisations and women's health centres in Sydney. There were 2 Domestic Violence Provision one day training to community workers, whilst the remaining sessions were 2 hour workshops on immigration issues, NESB women's access issues and domestic violence at conferences including the Hornsby Domestic Violence Forum, the Illawarra Domestic Violence Conference, The UWS Teaching Studies Asia Conference and a training session for volunteer workers for the Sinhala Community Project. In addition, the team worked with Women's Legal Resource Centre to organise a Women and Family Law workshop for 10 Chinese community workers.
Major Committees and Networks
NESB DV Network
Speakout continued to convene this information network (which was formerly the Coalition Against Violence Against Immigrant and Refugee Women) every six weeks, which is made up of community workers working with NESB women in DV situations. Since the structure of the network has changed, there has been wider participation with many issues raised, and strategies discussed. The team participated in a wide range of networks to keep abreast of issues affecting NESB women in domestic violence situations and use such forums to raise and discuss issues for our clients. Networks included:
· Apprehended Violence and Legal Issues Co-ordinating Committee
· NCOSS SAAP Peaks · VAW Regional Reference Group Western Sydney
· DFW Peaks Women's Meeting
· Fairfield Immigrant and Refugee Women's Network
· Australia Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse
· NSW DV Network
· Indian workers network
· Parramatta DV Committee
· Canterbury DV Committee
· Bankstown DV Committee
· Chinese Workers Network
· Transcultural Mental Health Services: Chinese Carers Support Group
Short term Working Parties
· SAAP Services Framework Reference Group
· NCOSS Legal Aid Surveys Working Party
· Women's Refuge Resource Centre Legal Working Party
· Partnerships Against Domestic Violence (PADV) NESB Family Violence Campaign
· Parramatta Stop DV Day Committee
· Police and Community Training St Mary's Advisory Committee
· Family Harmony Project of Holroyd Parramatta Migrant Services Advisory Committee
· Purple Ribbon Campaign
Despite the constant changes in staffing within the team, casework remained a strength of the project, even though there were decreases in the number of clients. In the 2000-2001 period, crisis counselling, support and assistance was directly provided to a total of 316 NESB women (down from 468 in 1999-00). The numbers of active on-going clients decreased to 83 from a high of 110 in 1999-00. The numbers of one off face-to-face clients also decreased to 71 from 121 the previous year. Telephone information and support was provided to another 162 women, whilst telephone information was provided to some 164 community workers and members the wider community.
Background of Clients
Due to the languages available in the team, the project attracts particular groups of women, predominantly women speaking Russian and Chinese languages. However, interpreters were often booked (on 24 occasions) to access women from a diverse range of backgrounds including Vietnam, Korea, Lebanon and Turkey. See Table 1.
Table 1. Countries of origin of clients
Country of Origin Number of Clients Russian 19 Chinese 14 Poland 6 Fiji Indian 6 Korea 6 Vietnam 6 Sri Lanka 3 Lebanon 3 Turkey 3 India 3 Croatia 3 Indonesia 2 Bosnia 1 Bulgaria 1 Macedonia 1 Ethiopia 1 Yugoslavia 1 Pakistan 1 Ghana 1 Cambodia 1 Argentina 1 Japan 1 TOTAL 83
Form of Violence
Overwhelmingly, emotional and psychological abuse was the most common form of violence experienced by clients presenting to the DV Project, followed by physical abuse. In 53 of the 83 active cases, a combination of 2 or more forms of violence were present. See Table 2.
Table 2. Form of Violence Type of Violence
Type of Violence Number Phisical 48 Emotional/psichological 66 Financial 29 Sexual 19 Social 24 Combination (more than two) 53
Age of Women
NESB Women of a diverse range of ages access the DV Project, with the largest group being between 26 and 35 years of age, while the smallest group is between 46-50 years of age. However, as Table 3 indicates, the project continued to access women of all ages. See Table 3.
Table 3. Age of Clients
Age (in years) Number <25 10 26-30 23 31-35 20 36-40 10 41-45 8 46-50 5 50> 7 TOTAL 83
While last year the project received a high demand for counselling services, this year the majority of clients requested assistance with immigration matters.
Table 4 Services provided
Services No of client DV counselling 65 Immigration Advice 68 Assist with AVO application 24 Assist with accommodation 19 Assist with Family Law matters 14 Other (advice, information) 8
Table 5 Overview of Issues Involved in Casework
Women with No permanent residency 69 Asisted with PR application 44 Success 35 Pending 9 Rejected - Women with children 34 Services Provided Yes 9 No/Referal Women applied for AVO 53 AVO granted 40 AVO Not Granted 12 Withdrawn 1 Women in need of legal advice 5 Applied for Legal Aid 4 Success 4 Rejected - Women needing interpreters 57 Interpreters provided 57 Within Organisation 33 Booked Outside 24 Women without income 6
Women with No permanent residency 69 Assisted with PR application 44 Success 35 Pending 9 Rejected - Women with children 34 Services provided Yes 9 No/ Referral Women applied for AVO 53 AVO granted 40 AVO Not Granted 12 Withdrawn 1 Women in need of legal advice 5 Applied for Legal Aid 4 Success 4 Rejected - Women needing interpreters 57 Interpreters provided 57 Within Organisation 33 Booked Outside 24 Women without income 6
Major Issues Arising from Casework
The project has identified a number of issues affecting NESB women in domestic violence situations and have responded to those issues through other areas of the project such as policy and advocacy, community development, training, and conference and workshop presentations. Of particular concern this year;
· The increasing reluctance of service providers (in particular health workers/ psychologists/social workers) to provide assistance to NESB women in domestic violence situations who also have an immigration issue
· An increase in the number of women requiring interpreters, some times interpreters' conduct was unprofessional and unsupportive whilst on many occasions appointments were cancelled due to a lack of free interpreters available
· An increase in Temporary Visa holders seeking accommodation and assistance
· Women with Bridging Visas who were not yet granted Temporary Spouse Visas, this in turn led to other difficulties including a lack of accommodation for single women, a lack of financial and material support and a alack of support from service providers · High volume of enquiries from community agencies requesting information about the Domestic Violence provisions and other immigration matters
· Increase in number of women seeking Protection Visas
· Negative attitudes of some supporting agencies
Due to the demand in casework provision in cases involving immigration matters, much time is spent writing submissions to DIMA and following up support letters for clients. As the cases were complex, intensive support was required and provided which often exceeded the limit of the resources of Speakout with workers often required to accompany women to court, other government agencies, particularly where women do not have family and friends in Australia.
OTHER ACTIVITIES OF THE PROJECT
· OSW consultation on NESB women's issues
· Women's Legal Resource Centre NESB Women's Access Forum
· Men and Relationships Conference · Mental Health and DV Forum
· Reclaim the night march
· International Women's Day March
· Women in Cuba forum
· Living Without Violence 2000 video launch
· DFW Rape as a War Crime Project launch
· Older Women's Network: Older Abuse Booklet launch
· CCWT training calendar launch
· NCOSS Legal Aid Survey launch
· Vietnamese Outworkers Project launch
· Dolores Single Women's Refuge anniversary
· IWD Stall in Parramatta
PROJECTS IN PROGRESS
Redfern Legal Centre - AVO Hearings Project
The DV Team has undertaken a project as consultants for the Redfern Legal Centre to develop resources for NESB women attending AVO hearings. Speakout is working closely with Redfern Legal Centre and consulting widely to develop appropriate resources.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC)
Speakout liased with HREOC to organise focus groups with NESB women to ascertain their experiences of racism in Australia to inform HREOC's recommendations to take to the World Racism Conference.