Whittlesea CALD Communities Family Violence Research Report 2012 - Page 8

7 The fear of losing the right to remain in Australia, whether real or perceived, was cited as a powerful disincentive for women to speak out about family violence. It was noted that this fear is readily exploitable by perpetrators of family violence with workers giving numerous examples of perpetrators using the threat of deportation, and in particular deportation and loss of access to children, as a means of controlling and keeping women in violent relationships. Services reported on the increased challenges of supporting women where they have limited or no English proficiency. The language barrier was seen as important in compounding the disadvantage of a lack of information and social isolation. The use of interpreters, though standard practice among those interviewed, threw up further considerations for those from smaller communities where the likelihood of the interpreter knowing the victim or the perpetrator is increased. A range of factors were identified by workers where community, religious and cultural norms and taboos impacted negatively on a woman’s ability to seek and get help. Community and family pressures to preserve the relationship were often counterproductive to efforts for early intervention. Some workers highlighted the role of community and religious leaders in urging women to return to their partners. A general fear amongst CALD women that they may lose custody of their children if they separated was reported as significant for some in considerations of whether or not seek help. The fact that CALD women face the possibility that their children may be removed and taken overseas was reported as a factor not normally experienced by non-CALD women. Overall, service providers reported that it may be harder for mainstream and specialist family violence services to build trust with CALD women and advocated for partnership and integrated approaches with settlement and CALD specific agencies with greater and more developed relationships with women from CALD backgrounds. Perspectives from Community and Religious Leaders All community religious leaders who participated in the project had been approached by someone in their community who had experienced family violence. Most said this occurred regularly and ranged from 4 to 6 cases per year to being approached every weekend after delivering their sermon. Community and religious leaders on the whole reported a preference for resolving family violence within the community if possible. Most also saw that they had a role in contributing to the prevention of family violence through their position as leaders within their communities. All community and religious leaders expressed a willingness to be involved in education, training and professional development to improve their capacity to respond the family violence. A particular need was identified for younger religious leaders to be supported through further education and training. Some leaders emphasised the need to ensure that family violence training conformed to the culture and traditions of communities. It was also implied by most that their role and capacity to contribute to family violence prevention was not usually acknowledged and deserved greater recognition.