ASRC tells HOR Committee Inquiry into Family and Sexual Violence that asylum and visa cancellation policies keep people in violent situations

Media Release

12 October 2020

Today, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s (ASRC) lawyers appeared at the public hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee Inquiry into Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The ASRC’s Human Rights Law Program runs a specialised gender law clinic to provide assistance to women, children and those who identify as GLBTIQ seeking asylum and facing gender based persecution or violence..

Around 80-90% of people we see in the clinic have experienced or fear family violence in their countries of origin, and half of our clients in the gender clinic also experience family violence in Australia.

People seeking asylum in Australia are in a protracted legal process for up to a decade, on short-term bridging visas semi-permanently, keeping them in a state of long-term vulnerability to unemployment and extreme poverty, all as a result of Government maladministration and mismanagement of refugee determination processes.

The Budget has further significantly worsened the socio-economic position for people seeking asylum in Australia, because people remain excluded from Job Keeper and Job Seeker.

Status Resolution Support Services have been consistently slashed over the past four Budgets from $139.8m in 2017-2018 to just 19.6 million in 2020-21, leaving thousands of people, including family violence victims, dependent on charity and at risk of homelessness.

Some women, men, and children live without access to Medicare, some don’t have any bridging visa at all and are left living unlawfully in the community, in constant fear of being detained, despite having an ongoing legal process.

People experiencing family, domestic or sexual violence live in fear of having visas cancelled if they report violence of a partner, especially because following cancellation or refusal of a partner’s visa, their visa, including mothers and children’s visas, could also be consequentially refused or cancelled if they are dependents on the partner’s visa application.

Unlike for some partner visa categories, there are no special domestic violence provisions to protect people from this or other visa status consequences of visa cancellation or more generally, of becoming a victim of family violence and having a precarious visa status.

Visa cancellation laws require that entire families all be sent back to their country of origin, even where they will likely face serious harm, despite Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention and the Child Rights convention to provide them with protection.

ASRC Principal Lawyer and Manager of the Human Rights Law Program, Dr Carolyn Graydon said: “The lack of legal protection available to people seeking asylum who are victims of family and sexual violence is a direct consequence of Government policies designed to keep people seeking asylum and others on temporary visas, in the most tenuous and marginalized situation possible.”

“There is a direct policy collision between the stated objectives of trying to keep everyone in our community safe from family and sexual violence and policies designed to deter people from exercising their recognized legal right to seek asylum.”

ASRC Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Jana Favero said: “There are built-in legal and policy disincentives for victims of family violence on temporary visas to seek protection from violence.”

“We need laws and policies which will provide victims of violence with a more secure legal status, and to ensure that they face no disadvantage to their visa status if they seek help for family violence, and to ensure that they are eligible for income support, housing, Medicare and access to shelters so that they can leave violent situations.”


Click Here for full ASRC submission to the Inquiry.

Media contact: Marcella Brassett – 0411 026 142

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