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What is ‘domestic violence screening’ for partner visas?

Many domestic violence victims, who are in Australia on a partner visa, may not be aware of their rights.

In many cases the victims are under the impression that they have no choice but to continue in the abusive relationship otherwise they will be made to leave Australia. They think that their application for permanent residency visa will be turned down by the Department of Home Affairs and subsequently their partner visa will be cancelled, forcing them to return to their home country sacrificing their career and social circles.

This state of affairs would leave victims of domestic violence with a terrible choice indeed.

Thankfully, under the provisions of Family Violence Scheme, the Department will allow an individual to apply for Australian permanent residency even though their relationship has ended, where that person is able to demonstrate that they or a member of their immediate family have been the victim of domestic violence. This does require some proof, but provides an escape to victims affected by violence – which, of course, nobody should ever have to endure.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can be defined as any such act or conduct that harms or threatens to harm the victim or any family member of the victim and property owned by them. It is not limited to physical abuse but also psychological and financial abuse that causes apprehension and concern in the victim’s mind regarding his or her safety and well being. This rule protects both men and women from domestic violence.

What proof is required?

The proof and documents required for establishing domestic violence can be either judicial or non-judicial in nature. Judicial evidence usually means a court injunction under the Family Law Act 1975 or a court order against the partner under Australian state law.

Other evidence that shows that the partner was either convicted or found guilty of any act of violence against the victim or his or her family members, will also be valid. For non-judicial evidence, a statutory declaration using Form 1410 is to be submitted by the victim furnishing the details of allegation of violence, name of the accused and the impact of the alleged violence on the victim.

Judicially determined claims are usually accepted by the Department and do not undergo any further scrutiny, but for non-judicially determined claims, the Department may decide to refer the claim to an independent expert for assessment. The necessary information regarding the claim is passed on to the expert to carry out further investigation. The confidentiality of information is maintained during the entire process. The independent expert will give his/her opinion regarding the claim which is usually considered for the final decision.

It is always advisable to seek help from professional agencies who have years of experience in assisting victims of domestic violence. They usually employ panel of experts and specialist in family law who can help you with their valuable input and suggestions and will also assist you in the documentation process, so that you comply with the rules and regulations.

If you, or somebody you know, experiences family violence in any form, please contact the police and social services as soon as possible.

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