Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

New support for family violence victims

Joint Media Release with:

  • Chris Bowen MP, Minister for immigration and citizenship

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, and the Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins MP, today announced new measures to help victims of family violence on provisional partner visas.

Mr Bowen said the changes would improve the assessment of family violence under migration law and provide for a wider range of evidence to support such claims.

“Under the new arrangements, in order to improve the accessibility and operation of family violence provisions, we will streamline the evidence requirements claims for a visa on the basis of family violence,” Mr Bowen said.

“The current process of obtaining statutory declarations, with a set of technical requirements, can be quite difficult for some victims.

“In some cases, people who have suffered family violence will have already come into contact with a range of service providers or government agencies and records of this will exist. It is both fair and sensible to allow them to provide these documents instead.”

The changes come after the issue was raised with Minister Bowen by the Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association, and are also a partial response to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) report and work on Family Violence and Commonwealth Law.

Implementation is scheduled for 24 November 2012. In the interim, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will update policy guidelines to confirm that any evidence provided by applicants in addition to the required statutory declarations should be considered.

“Domestic and family violence are unacceptable. It’s important women do not face obstacles in leaving violent relationships and that they receive the support and assistance they need,” Ms Collins said.

“These measures will make a real difference to the lives of women on temporary visas who have experienced the trauma of family violence.

“They complement the work the Gillard Government already has underway to reduce and respond to violence against women including our $86 million National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children,” Ms Collins said.

The changes to the Migration Act extend protections for people experiencing family violence and build on the amendments to the Family Law Act that commenced on 7 June 2012.

To ensure the integrity of assessments, applicants will still need to provide a minimum standard of evidence.

“DIAC will consult with a range of organisations who work with victims of family violence to develop an appropriate list of acceptable evidence,” Mr Bowen said.

These and other issues were raised in the ALRC report, and these measures are a preliminary response to the recommendations made by the commission in relation to migration law.