5P Family violence


Dr Alissar El-Murr,
Australian Institute Of Family Studies
Friday 23 November 23 2018

Time: 9:35am – 9:55am

Room: Bluewater 2

5P Family violence

Intimate partner violence in Australian refugee communities: An overview of underlying issues and service responses


This paper looks at family and domestic violence that occurs in refugee communities in Australia, with a specific focus on intimate partner violence (IPV). IPV, or violence that takes place within a married or partnered relationship, is the main form of violence experienced by women in Australia, and an important issue to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations. This has been acknowledged by the Commonwealth Government in the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022, particularly in its Third Action Plan (2016-19), which prioritised the cultivation of cultural competence in service systems and practitioners. State and territory governments have followed suite in recent years, with policies about family and domestic violence – as well as multicultural policies – reviewed and updated to ensure due recognition of cultural diversity and strategies to promote inclusivity. Police and family law system services have also implemented strategies to better engage with diverse communities and foster positive relationships with community specific organisations.

This paper presents the findings of a qualitative research project, which consisted of a comprehensive literature review, and three case studies based on professional consultations with organisations of importance to refugee communities. The literature review identified the intersecting factors that enable IPV, such as migration pathways and pre-arrival experiences of refugees, as well as settlement issues, including acculturation stress and social isolation. Because of the paucity of research about IPV in Australian refugee communities, professional consultations were undertaken to develop a diverse set of case studies that represented the main issues raised in the literature. These case studies offer a practical perspective on effective ways to engage refugee communities about IPV, and the types of challenges facing the service sector in Australia. While the scope of the project was largely limited to discussions regarding refugees who have permanently settled in Australia, the experiences of those on temporary visas, particularly those on spousal visas and seeking asylum, will also be described. Through a combined discussion on the available literature and the case studies, this paper facilitates reflection on the complexity of experiences of IPV in Australian refugee communities and effective, culturally appropriate strategies in service provision.


Alissar trained as a social scientist and has expertise in the areas of violence against women, law and policy analysis, public health, and qualitative methods. Alissar has worked in academic settings, and in non-government organisations focused on refugee and migrant communities and the prevention of violence against women and children, both in Australia and the Middle East. In 2012, Alissar was awarded a Harold Mitchell Travelling Fellowship to work in consultation with UN Women in Cairo and develop recommendations for a framework to eliminate violence against women and girls in Egypt. At the Institute, Alissar works across the Policy and Service Systems research team and the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) Information Exchange. Current projects include a review of the Local Support Coordinator role in family and domestic violence services, and a scoping project concerned with family violence in refugee communities in Australia.