Multicultural women's group hails changes to Family Law Act

Attached is a media release from the Victorian Immigrant & Refugee Women's Coalition in response to the revised Family Law Act.

Multicultural women’s group hails changes to Family Law Act

The Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition (VIRWC), the statewide peak body for migrant and refugee women, hails the new Family Law Act as a groundbreaking step towards addressing the complexity of issues surrounding domestic violence experiences in Australia. The recent addition of psychological and other non-physical forms of abuse in the Family Law Act marks a significant progress in addressing grey areas of what constitutes domestic violence. Conventionally, violence distinguishes itself through physical violence in which evidences are more likely to be obtained.

The Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition (VIRWC) commends the federal government on implementing the addition. “It certainly has put great emphasis on children’s safety and women’s (human) rights,” commented Melba Marginson, Executive Director of VIRWC. The Coalition introduced a FREE advice and referral service to multicultural women with or without permanent residency in 2007 and has assisted over 200 multicultural women to break free from various forms of domestic violence.

Ms Marginson agrees with the stance of the federal government on the new Domestic Violence Act. “By identifying in detail what comprises unacceptable behaviour of the perpetrator, the new federal law has recognised the complexity of domestic violence as it is experienced by people of multicultural background.” Ms Marginson cites that from their past cases it was too often that children were subjected to witness family violence, especially verbal abuse, in everyday setting. She also acknowledges that new federal law would enhance protection of multicultural women and children in family violence situations.

Ms. Marginson also says, “The new law provides a more comprehensive protection to domestic violence victims. However, there is one grey area that it has not covered, and that is cyber-stalking”.  

The VIRWC expects the new Act will instigate an increase in the number of multicultural women reporting domestic violence to the VIRWC and other service providers.

The revised Family Law Act enacted today extends the definition of domestic violence to non-physical abuses including emotional manipulation, withholding money, damage to property, and harming the family pet. This broadened scope of violence are exemplified through stalking, repeated derogatory taunts, intentionally damaging or destroying property, and preventing someone from having contact with family and friends or culture.

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VIRWC Media Release - 721KB Word