Intimate partner violence in Australian refugee communities

Intimate partner violence in Australian refugee communities

Scoping review of issues and service responses

Alissar El-Murr

CFCA Paper No. 50 — December 2018
Cropped shot of two people holding hands in comfort


This paper looks at what is currently known about intimate partner violence in Australian refugee communities, and what service providers can do to ensure appropriate support is available to this client group. The first half of the paper provides a scoping review of current research. The second half of the paper looks at real-life case studies of service practice through consultations with organisations of importance to refugee communities in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.

Key messages

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most commonly experienced form of family violence used against women in Australia and takes place across all cultures and faith groups.

In addition to physical and sexual violence, women from refugee backgrounds are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse, reproductive coercion and immigration-related violence.

Intersecting factors relevant to the experience of IPV in refugee communities include migration pathways and traumatic pre-arrival experiences, as well as settlement issues such as acculturation stress and social isolation.

Integrated, trauma-informed care is regarded as promising practice in services targeting individuals from refugee backgrounds to address women's experiences of IPV.

To assist in overcoming barriers to engagement, service providers can implement strategies to enhance cultural safety. Promoting community involvement and leadership has been shown to be important in developing culturally competent programming and should underpin violence prevention strategies.


Authors and Acknowledgements

Dr Alissar El-Murr is a Senior Research Officer at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Alissar trained as a social scientist and has expertise in violence against women, public health policy and programming, and qualitative methods. Alissar has worked in academic settings, and in non-government organisations focused on culturally and linguistically diverse communities and the prevention of violence against women and their children. At the Institute, she is currently undertaking research that explores the support services available to victims/survivors of violence in Australian communities.

The author wishes to acknowledge the generosity of the individuals and services that participated in consultations for the case studies presented in this paper. The author would also like to thank Foundation House and Flinders University for their support of this project.

Featured image: © GettyImages/PeopleImages

Publication details

CFCA Paper
No. 50
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, December 2018.

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