GRIM REALITY: Women’s Shelter manager Beverley Schimke wants more to be done to protect and assist victims.
GRIM REALITY: Women’s Shelter manager Beverley Schimke wants more to be done to protect and assist victims. Trinette Stevens

Violent end to land of opportunity for many women

THEY came to Australia for love and new opportunity, but were cruelly met with abuse and isolation instead.

This is the reality some migrant women live with after being brought to Australia on Partner Visas by Australian men.

Beverley Schimke of the Rockhampton Women's shelter, saw 34 women last year who had been brought into the country under the premise of forever, only to be met with abuse.

"The growing issue for our area here is culturally and linguistically diverse clients. Particularly those who have met Australian men on the internet and been mistreated," she said.

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"Quite often they don't know their rights in Australia...The perpetrators use that against them, and tell them they have no where to turn for help. They persevere and stay longer because they don't realise there's help out there."

Ms Schimke said migrant women are more likely to be taken advantage of because they typically come from cultures built on strong gender roles.

"They are literally treated like sex slaves and house slaves and quite often you see in those situations there are men taking advantage of their cultural beliefs. It is their culture to do everything for their man," she said.

"There is nothing to stop the man from bringing another woman in and doing the same thing over and over again. It's kind of like a throwaway wife. If she isn't willing to tow the line, he'll just bring another one in."

Within the last few years restrictions have been placed on the Partner Visa to restrict sponsorships for migration to two people.

Bruce Wells of Refugee and Immigration Legal Service (RAILS) said women who have been brought into Australia and abused by their new spouse are entitled to stay within the country provided they are able to demonstrate the presence of abuse and the legitimacy of their relationship.

RAILS, based in Brisbane, is the only specialty service in all of Queensland.

Mr Wells said over half of the organisation's case load is composed of migrants on partner visas seeking to keep their citizenship after domestic violence.

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