Family violence whilst on your visa – what are your options?
Do you hold a temporary residence Partner visa? Are you currently experiencing family violence and on a Partner visa? Are you worried how this will affect your visa?
Under the Migrations Regulations 1994 (Cth), the Australian government introduced family violence provisions to deal with these types of situations. The purpose of the regulations are to ensure vulnerable people are not forced to remain in abusive relationships in order to achieve a visa outcome.
Often the family violence exception is invoked in partner visa cases. The exception provides for the grant of permanent residency to victims of family violence, despite the breakdown of the relationship on which the visa status depends.
What is family violence?
Family violence is conduct, whether actual or threatened that causes the alleged victim to reasonably fear for, or to be reasonably apprehensive about, his or her own safety. Such conduct can include conduct against the victim, a member of the family unit or property. For example:
- Physical abuse or harm;
- Psychological and emotional abuse such as undermining a person’s self-worth; intimidating or threatening;
- Forced sexual relations;
- Undermining a person’s sexuality such as making accusations of infidelity or withholding sex;
- Destroying personal property;
- Forced isolation from family and friends;
- Economic abuse such as making a person financially dependent, total control of finances, withholding resources like food and clothes and preventing partner from working;
- Spiritual abuse such as preventing a person for practising their religious beliefs, using religious beliefs to manipulate and ridiculing a person’s religious beliefs; and
What evidence is required?
To succeed with an application for permanent residency in circumstance of family violence the Department of Home Affairs (‘the Department’) require two types of evidence: judicially determined evidence and non-judicially determined evidence.
Judicially determined evidence is evidence from a court such as an injunction under the Family Law Act 1975 against your partner, a court order against your partner or evidence that a court has convicted your partner of assault against you or a member of the family unit.
Non-judicially determined evidence involves evidence from a competent person. A competent person includes a medical practitioner, psychologist, registered nurse, a member of the Australian Association of Social Workers, a family consultant under the Family Law Act 1975 or a manager of a women’s refuge, crisis or counselling service.
Other evidence that can be included to support an application for invoking the family violence exception includes:
- Photographs of the violence;
- Statutory declarations from friends or family members witnessing the violence;
- Personal journal recording the violence; and
- Text messages between the victim and the alleged perpetrator.
Bambrick Legal has recently acted for a client who had experienced family violence by her sponsoring de facto partner. Throughout her relationship, she experienced physical, emotional and psychological violence. Our client held a Temporary Partner Visa (subclass 820) and was concerned her visa would be cancelled if she spoke out about the violence.
Applications of this kind are emotionally challenging due to the circumstances and the evidence required. We ensured that our client was treated with respect throughout the entire process and that her story was properly considered and presented with concise evidence.
The Department granted our client her Permanent Partner Visa (subclass 801). She can now continue to remain in Australia and plan for her future in this country.
If you are experiencing family violence by your partner or a member of your family unit, please do not hesitate to contact us at Bambrick Legal on (08) 8362 5269 to discuss your options.
 Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth), Reg 1.21