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Family violence as experienced by people from diverse communities

Research priority.

We all know that people from diverse communities have fundamentally different experiences of family violence. Those differences are often shaped by social attitudes, which in turn create structural barriers and long-term disadvantage and marginalisation including from the family violence service system.

Leah van Poppel, Co-Chair, Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group
CEO, Women with Disabilities Victoria

Victorians from diverse communities can face be at greater risk of violence and face challenges accessing supports, because of social structures of disadvantage that marginalise their cultural or social identity or their personal circumstances. This includes people from:

  • multicultural and faith communities
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning (LGBTIQ+) communities
  • people with disability
  • people experiencing mental health difficulties
  • older Victorians
  • women in or exiting prison or forensic institutions
  • people working in the sex industry
  • rural, regional and remote communities
  • male victims
  • young people aged 12–25.

Diversity may be intersectional, and an individual may identify with one, two or multiple communities. The experiences of individuals who identify with a diverse community may differ significantly from others in those communities.

Research into family violence as experienced and perpetrated by people from diverse communities is an emerging field. We need to better understand, the differing needs of individuals who identify with one or more diverse community, the unique dynamics of violence within diverse communities, and the drivers and protective factors that may increase or reduce that violence. There is also a significant gap in research and data collection around availability, access, inclusion and family violence service system use for people from diverse communities. This needs to be addressed in order to prevent family violence and enhance the Victorian service system response.

Research relevant to all cohorts within this priority includes:

  • Better understanding prevalence, protective factors and additional drivers of family violence within diverse communities, and how these may differ across groups of people and communities
  • Research that builds a stronger understanding of how family violence is experienced by people belonging to various diverse communities and how these experiences and impacts may differ across individuals, families, communities
  • Similarities and differences in types of violence and patterns of violent behaviours of people using violence against victim survivors from diverse communities, including unique manifestations of violence, and how this may or should change or affect service delivery
  • Ways of translating the lived experiences of people from diverse communities to effective and appropriate service delivery responses, including through the application of an intersectional lens to family violence practice
  • Building a stronger understanding of systemic and social barriers to disclosure, help seeking and access to services for people from diverse communities, and ways to address this.

Additional areas of focus relevant to specific communities or groups of people include:

  • the role of faith and multicultural leadership and communities in family violence prevention and response, including how they interface with the service system
  • family violence where visa status is being used as a tool of coercion and control, including barriers to service access and use. This should include consideration of impacts for children and young people
  • inclusiveness of service responses for trans and gender-diverse people who experience or perpetrate family violence
  • family violence where the victim survivor works in the sex industry, including understanding ways stigma and discrimination surrounding sex work contributes to structural barriers in accessing services
  • effective service responses for people with disability experiencing family violence. Research in this area must consider the recommendations and implications of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability for the family violence and disability services sector
  • types and prevalence of family violence experienced by older Victorians beyond financial abuse.

The Royal Commission called for more accessible, inclusive and non-discriminatory service provision, and an improved understanding of how family violence is experienced by people from diverse communities. Research under this agenda priority will support the Victorian government to continue to strengthen the system to ensure consideration of the needs and experiences of people from diverse communities is embedded into service design and delivery.

Reviewed 21 February 2022

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