Whittlesea CALD Communities Family Violence Research Report 2012 - Page 40

39 Service providers stated that similarly to Australian born women, CALD women considering leaving a family violence want to know what their alternatives are: where they will live, where their children will go to school, where they will get financial support, wow they will support themselves. ‘Often the women are quite isolated and they want to be reassured that if they leave they are not going to be worse off than before and this is difficult because there are lots of barriers to housing etc.’ Finding appropriate housing is a huge challenge for service providers with a shortage of suitable emergency and temporary accommodation for women or women and their children (for example, service providers said that rooming houses are almost always unsuitable for women and children but these are often the only form of accommodation available to women). Service providers were concerned about the shortage of long-term housing options for women beyond the crisis phase. It was the experience of service providers that CALD women who do go into refuges often stay longer than non-CALD women because they have fewer options for alternative accommodation once they leave (for example, they may find it harder to come up with a lump sum for a bond to get into the private rental market and may also have few if any family and friends to fall back on). Service providers described experiencing CALD women’s frustration at being unable to find housing and having difficulty managing their expectations of what the service provider could do. Some service providers stated that whilst it may be relatively easy for women to get access to legal advice and assistance regarding Intervention Orders, especially through the duty lawyer service at the Magistrates Court; it is harder to find legal practitioners who are experienced in family violence and can assist women with family violence related matters such as property and migration advice, mortgage arrears, child custody disputes etc. Cultural Beliefs Cultural taboos and beliefs regarding gender roles, separation and divorce were raised by 17 of 23 or 73% of service providers as a factor that influenced a woman’s decision whether or not to leave a violent relationship. It was agreed that cultural and community expectations add a layer of pressure to stay in a relationship that is less prevalent or influential for non-CALD women. ‘Some women who have arrived on skilled migrant visas may be quite well educated and knowledgeable about their legal rights and family violence but they are still often reluctant to leave the marriage because of strong cultural taboos around divorce.’ Service providers cited many instances they had come across where CALD women experienced pressure from family overseas as well as pressure from within the community in Australia to keep the relationship together. Some women were visited by religious or community leaders who urged them to return to their husbands because they had changed and deserved a second chance or they were told they had brought shame on themselves and their families. There was also a perception that for CALD women it was less acceptable to speak out about family violence particularly when this involved talking to people from outside the family and community. ‘There is shame attached to taking a ‘private’ family matter to a public arena like a court which is an added pressure against applying for an IVO’ For some women, particularly those women from smaller communities, speaking out about family violence means risking being cut off from the entire community.