Update on AWAVA's work
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October to December 2017

Welcome to the final AWAVA update for 2017 year. Thank-you for your interest and support for our work!
From the 2017–2018 financial year, we are entering into a new set of advocacy priority areas. For the next three years we plan to focus on:

  1. Strategic engagement and representation
  2. Enhance equal access to justice and accountability
  3. Promote effective responses to improve women's safety and recovery
  4. Primary prevention and institutional change
  5. Development of an international agenda

 Following are some highlights and achievements for the last quarter of 2017.

Strategic engagement and representation 

We have initiated, strengthened and maintained collaborations with other Alliances as well as with other diverse groups of women.

AWAVA continued our collaboration with the 
Equality Rights Alliance (ERA) focusing on gender-responsive housing and homelessness policy. Together with ERA, we have published “Homelessness Policy with Women at the Centre: Surveying the Connections between Housing, Gender, Violence and Money”, an article in Parity magazine. We have also sent a joint letter to State and Territory Governments stating the need for a gender-responsive National Housing and Homelessness Agreement.

We have started our collaboration with the newly established Alliance for migrant and refugee women, 
Harmony Alliance, making a joint pre-budget submission focusing on family violence and migration status.

A highlight of AWAVA’s community engagement during this period was our social media campaign for the 16 Days of Activism to End 
Gender-Based Violence. Between 23 November and 12 December we made 18 themed social media posts to Facebook and Twitter, with blog posts on AWAVA’s website. In keeping with the 16 Days theme (‘leave no-one behind’), we used the campaign to profile diverse groups of women and their efforts to eliminate violence, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women with insecure migration status, women with disability, women in remote, rural and regional areas and people who identify as LGBTIQ. We also explored links between HIV transmission and violence against women, looked at the economic empowerment for women as a driver for gender equality and, thus, prevention of violence against women; and analysed manifestations of technology-facilitated violence against women and ways to obtain justice. Each post also provided resources and links for further information. If you missed the campaign you can access all posts via this link: https://awava.org.au/category/blog

Enhance equal access to justice and accountability 

In our access to justice work over the last quarter AWAVA has focused on technology-facilitated abuse. We’ve made a submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women focusing on the manifestations of technology-facilitated abuse. We have also made a submission on the adequacy of existing offences in the Commonwealth Criminal Code and of state and territory criminal laws to capture cyberbullying.


Promote effective responses to improve women's safety and recovery

We continued reiterating the need for the gender-responsive housing and homelessness policy given that it has been clearly established that domestic and family violence is the major driving cause of homelessness in Australia. We called the Government for appropriate and sustainable services in a number of policy documents including the joint AWAVA/ERA letter and pre-budget submissions. See the section on submissions below for links to the documents.

Building on our work promoting the distinctive role of specialist women’s services in ending violence against women, in 2017 we produced the good practice principles that must underspin service delivery. One of the important principles is for the service to be accessible, culturally-appropriate and sensitive. This principle ensures accessibility and responsiveness to individual circumstances and life experiences, specialist services must take into account and appropriately respond to survivors/victims who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on gender, age, culture, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, marital status, occupation, race, religion, or social status. Drawing on this work in 2017 we focused on an emerging issue – the link between migration status and violence against women.

Research is not yet sufficient to ascertain whether incidence of family violence is any more or less prevalent for women from migrant and refugee backgrounds than across the rest of Australian society; however, women from these cohorts are less likely to seek assistance in situations of family violence due to compounding barriers. These include, but are not limited to: the inherent isolation of living in a new country away from established networks; community pressures and expectations; higher levels of financial dependence on perpetrators or community; lack of knowledge of rights and available services; and fear of deportation and removal of children or perpetrator.[1];[2]

Perpetrators use victims’/survivors’ temporary migration status as a weapon to deter them from reporting violence and to keep them subservient. In recognition of this, in 2012 the Australian Government introduced visa provisions that allow many on the path to permanent residency to continue their application even after a relationship breakdown, if this breakdown is due to family violence. The key visa categories currently eligible are those who have submitted an application for a partner visa and those who have married on a prospective marriage visa.[3]

However, these visa provisions have not been as effective at ensuring that victims/survivors in temporary migration situations are able to leave violent situations as initially hoped. The limited categories covered by these provisions leave many vulnerable and dependent on their partners. Furthermore, the number of applications received even within the limited eligible categories falls well short of the number of domestic violence situations that could be statistically expected.[4];[5] Finally, the method of assessment used by DIBP in the current provision risks re-traumatising the victims/survivor, putting them once again in a situation of dependence on the perpetrator as they seek to prove that they were part of a 'genuine relationship'. This is a particularly difficult task for victims/survivors who may have been financially and socially ostracised by the perpetrator. 

This work resulted in a number of policy documents. Collaborating with the Harmony Alliance, we lodged a joint pre-budget submission focusing on the need to ensure that appropriate services are available to women leaving violent relationships regardless of their migration status. Amongst
others we called on the government to:

  1. Extend access to government-funded services, including crisis payments and emergency housing, to all victims/survivors of domestic, family, sexual and intimate partner violence, irrespective of current visa status, across all states and territories (3.8b).
  2. Ensure all relevant government-funded service providers—including health, legal, domestic, family and sexual violence crisis services, and community organisations providing support to victims/survivors—receive adequate funding and have procedures in place for engaging appropriate interpreting services. This funding should be distinct from program budgets to remove any opportunity cost to services facilitating such services (3.6a).
  3. Develop recommended standards for government-funded service providers with regard to engaging and working with interpreters in the context of sexual, family and domestic violence (3.6a).
For the full list of recommendations, visit: https://awava.org.au/2018/01/03/submissions/joint-pre-budget-submission-awava-harmony-alliance

We have also produced a short version of our submission on the link between migration and violence against women. For the short version click here. To access the full text of the submission click here.
[1]AWAVA, Submission into the Public Consultation on Visa Simplification, 4.
[2]Vaugn et al., The ASPIRE Project: Research report, 11.
[4]Segrave, Temporary migration and family violence, 50.
[5]529 applications were received in 2015-16, compared with the 8700 eligible applicants statistically expected to have experienced intimate partner violence.

Primary prevention and institutional change

Building on Prevalent & Preventable, our joint international conference with Our Watch in 2016, AWAVA is now focusing on primary prevention as a key priority. Primary prevention of violence against women refers to efforts to eliminate the drivers of such violence, particularly gender inequality, so that eventually the violence will no longer occur. To date, many of the initiatives focusing on primary prevention have been aimed at promoting respectful relationships through school settings. To learn more about primary prevention in simple language, you can download our Easy English conference report here.

In 2017, AWAVA established a Working Group to bring together members in different States and Territories who are involved in prevention initiatives, with the aim of sharing information and identifying gaps where further work is needed.


Development of an international agenda

Joint Alliances International work

The National Women’s Alliances have an ongoing collaborative project which aims to:
  • provide opportunities for women’s organisations to share their skills and their experiences of engagement in the international human rights system;
  • equip women’s organisations in Australia to engage with and participate in the international human rights system;
  • equip women’s organisations in Australia to use the outcomes of international human rights processes in their domestic advocacy work; and
  • improve communications and resource sharing among NGO participants, Government and international bodies at key international events.

As part of this project, the Alliances recently ran an International Forum in Sydney on 19 October to prepare for the next session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2018 (CSW62), and to talk generally about important international mechanisms including the Sustainable Development Goals and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. We also made a submission  on the Australian Government’s priorities for CSW62. You can find out more at the National Women’s Alliances website.

AWAVA, together with other National Women’s Alliances, have mapped
our domestic advocacy priorities against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The result is a fact sheet which demonstrates how the Sustainable Development Goals cut across the work and advocacy of five of the National Women’s Alliances and highlights the intersections across the work of the Alliances. The 2030 Agenda is a great opportunity to advance collective work towards gender equality and women’s rights in Australia and internationally. (Note: This work began before the establishment of the Harmony Alliance.)

Gender audit of UNHCR in preparation to the Global Compact on Refugees

In the last Quarterly Update we foreshadowed our participation in the Gender Audit of the Global Compact for Refugees in UNCHR in Geneva. The Global Compact for Refugees is aimed at strengthening the international response to large movements, reception, hosting and resettlement of people fleeing persecution, war and violence. It will be accompanied by the Program of Action featuring the best practice from the range of stakeholders.

AWAVA’s Policy Officer Tina Dixson has joined a women’s delegation from Australia to undertake a gender audit in UNHCR in preparation for the Global Compact on Refugees. She has participated in the thematic consultations in October and the High Commissioner’s Dialogue in December. The role of the gender audit team is, on one hand, to 
analyse existing documents from a gender lens perspective, and on the other, to advocate for gender-responsiveness of the Global Compact both on the level of policy and practice.

The Global Compact on Refugees will be 
finalised in 2018. Since the start of the gender audit in October until December we’ve seen significant shifts and commitments to ensure that voices of refugee women and girls are heard. We look forward to seeing that reflected in the final document. We will be updating you on the progress of this work.  

Currently, you can access reports from October and November outlining what specific measures need to be taken to ensure gender-sensitive approaches from reception and admission to resettlement, reallocation or repatriation of people from refugee backgrounds.
  • Gender Audit Report on the Second and Third Thematic Discussion On the Global Compact On Refugees. Thematic Discussion Two: Measures to be taken at the onset of a large movement of refugees and Thematic Discussion Three: Meeting needs and supporting communities Geneva 17th -18th October 2017
    Full report can be accessed here
    Summary report is available here.
  • Gender Audit Report on the Thematic Discussion Four: Measures to be taken in the pursuit of solutions and Thematic Discussion Five: Issues that cut across all four substantive sections of the comprehensive refugee response, and overarching issues Geneva 14th -15th November 2017
    Full report can be accessed here
    Summary report is available here



Brochure: ‘The Unique Role of Specialist Women’s Services in Ending Violence against Women’

The short brochure has been designed to promote the unique role of specialist women’s services in ending violence against women. It showcases the guiding good-practice principles of specialist women’s services that underpin service delivery in order to effectively respond to the diverse needs of women. The brochure also can be used to inform the guiding principles of other services planning to provide services to women who had violence inflicted on them.

You can access the online version here.

You are also welcome to email AWAVA at info@awava.org.au to request a printed copy.

Steps You Can Take to Help End Violence against Women.

Drawing on existing resources, the fact sheet will guide you through various action points and ideas of what an individual can do to make a real difference.

Get your copy online here and share it around.

You are also welcome to email AWAVA at info@awava.org.au to request a printed copy

Don’t forget, you can view our most recent updates and other relevant information in our Weekly News Round-ups and social media (follow us on Facebook and Twitter).
Contact us! If you have ideas or feedback about our work, please email info@awava.org.au Visit our website at www.awava.org.au

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