Combating domestic violence in multicultural communities: SSI's crucial role

Meet Dilini, a frontline worker providing culturally informed services for culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

CW: Discussion of domestic violence.

It’s seventeen hundred hours on the frontlines of domestic violence and we are out and about in Campbelltown with Dilini, a practice specialist in domestic, family and sexual violence at Settlement Services International (SSI). SSI provides cultural and specialised support to over 50,000 people each year but they have a specific focus on Domestic and Family Violence within multicultural communities. 

Frontline workers like Dilini know how important it is to provide specialised and culturally informed services for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. As we drive to meet clients, Dilini explains that “we know that women and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds face a range of challenges when they are attempting to access support”.

This can include language barriers, financial barriers or using their visa status, cultural or religious beliefs against them. The Safety and Security Study found that 40% of migrant and refugee women did not disclose their experiences of domestic violence to anyone. They also noted that while 75% of respondents identified as religious only 12% sought help or support from religious leaders. This is why SSI runs programs like ‘In my voice’ to provide safe places for conversations about domestic and family violence and combat stigma. 

Dilini is one of those conversation starters and it’s easy to see how she fell into this line of work. “Some of the main reasons why women from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds do not report abuse is because they feel less secure due to their undetermined visa status and their financial dependence on perpetrators” Dilini explains. In fact, the Safety and Security Study found that 36% of Temporary Visa Holders reported at least one controlling behaviour compared to 29% of Australian citizens and 27% of permanent visa holders.  

Those controlling behaviours experienced by migrant and refugee women can be unique to their situation (for example threats they will be deported, have visa sponsorship withdrawn or that their children will be sent to another country). These women are also subjected to all-too-familiar forms of coercive control – like financial abuse which impacted 56% of migrant and refugee victim-survivors.  

You can learn more about the incredible work SSI is doing to combat domestic violence here. You can also check out their new NSW Multicultural Centre of Women’s and Family Safety.  

Dilini is the seventeenth frontline worker Domestic Violence NSW have featured this May as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This 24 hours on the frontlines campaign run by Domestic Violence NSW uses a series of videos to showcase the pervasiveness of domestic violence in the community and the strength of the sector working tirelessly to stop it. If you want to join the fight against domestic violence, check out their pledge! Follow the rest of the campaign on Domestic Violence NSW’s Instagram, Facebook or Tiktok.” 

In partnership with Domestic Violence NSW.