Media Release: Reflecting Victoria’s diverse population: what the Royal Commission into Family Violence Recommendations need to ensure

The Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) commends the work of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and is pleased to hear there will be increased capacity for organisations to prevent and respond to family violence.
Violence occurs across all communities and cultures, but it’s important to remember that family violence can also manifest differently and can have different effects in specific cultural settings.

‘Immigrant and refugee women’s social and economic marginalisation certainly adds another layer of complexity to their experience of family violence and this includes ways they seek assistance’, said Dr Adele Murdolo, MCWH Executive Director.

‘Prevention and early intervention programs, for example, are rarely accessible or appropriate to women from immigrant and refugee communities, and as a result, we often see these women over-represented in the crisis system,’ Dr Murdolo said. ‘But it’s also the case that women don’t know what support services are available in the first place.’

Of the 227 recommendations outlined in the Report, 48 refer to ‘family violence and diversity’, with 7 recommendations relating to ‘people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities’ (with 4 of these relating to use of interpreters). According to Dr Murdolo, it’s too early to know whether the majority of the other recommendations could potentially address the service needs of immigrant and refugee women.

‘There are some excellent and much-needed recommendations that recognise the gaps and challenges. However, there’s a danger of undermining everyone’s hard work if the recommendations aren’t given the proper context and detail. ‘Cultural and linguistic diversity’ isn’t simply a matter of speaking another language, it’s also about recognising differences in people’s experiences. Immigrant and refugee women’s experiences of seeking support are affected by a whole range of factors including social isolation, stigma, and stereotyping.’

MCWH urges the Government to commit to resourcing a skilled bicultural and bilingual workforce across Victoria that matches the demographic make-up of the community in order to meet the needs of specific communities.

‘Given Australia’s diverse population, it is essential that the report be read and understood within the context of ethnic and cultural diversity’, said Dr Murdolo. ‘What we need to ensure now is that the recommendations are truly universal in their reach and can make improvements across the whole community.’

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