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COVID-19 lockdown impacts women on temporary visas experiencing family violence

Source: AAP

Advocates for action on family violence are concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic has become a desperate time for women experiencing family violence who are dependents of temporary visa holders, with their ordeal compounded by barriers in accessing social services due to their visa status.



  • The inTouch multicultural centre against family violence says COVID-19 is adding another layer of stress to victims
  • inTouch is experiencing higher than normal caseloads due to COVID-19 
  • Advocates say migration status limits a victim’s ability to access support services


In normal times, three in ten women - age fifteen and above - will have experienced physical or sexual violence in Australia according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

However, the overwhelming stress families experience from COVID-19 lockdowns have resulted in a spike in calls for help from victims of family violence according to Michal Morris who heads Victoria-based inTouch multicultural centre against family violence.

The organisation’s bilingual case managers and immigration lawyers have been busy providing remote support to more women than usual.

Morris says whilst many women on temporary visas lost their jobs due to the sudden change in employment status, they’re ineligible for government support like Centrelink, Job Seeker and Job Keeper.

They don’t have access to income and they’re currently now in fear for their own safety but fear of where they’re going to get money for food and where they’re going to get money to pay for the roof over their head.

As the only Australian multicultural support agency for family violence with an onsite legal centre, approximately 40% of inTouch clients were on temporary visas in 2018 to 2019.

Battered woman raising her hand in self-defense
Benjamin RondelGettyImages

Morris says inTouch has noticed a new pattern in perpetrators using COVID-19 as a weapon against vulnerable women with low English proficiency who are only able to access information from their abusers during the lockdown.

The virus has added that extra layer.

She says if a woman is experiencing feelings of unsafely for whatever reasons: emotional, financial, psychological, sexual as well as physical, and if they’re feeling threatened for their lives or their children’s lives, it means they’re experiencing family violence and they can seek help.

To hear the full report, click on the audio link above.

For more information on inTouch, visit or call their toll free number on 1800 755 988 Monday to Friday between 9am to 5pm if you live in Victoria.

For nationwide support, contact 1800 RESPECT, the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 737 732 any time.

If you are feeling distressed and need emotional support, call the Beyondblue coronavirus mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348 or Lifeline on 13 11 14 any time of the day and night.

For women’s health-related information in your language, contact the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health on its toll free number 1800 656 421 between 10am to 4pm.

If you need language support, call 13 14 50 for an interpreter and ask to be connected to your preferred support organisation.

Call 000 immediately if your life is in danger.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.
SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at

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