FECCA applauds Royal Commission into Family Violence report and recommendations

31 March 2016

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence has made a number of recommendations pertaining to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women and communities.

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence has made a number of recommendations pertaining to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women and communities.

FECCA Chairperson Joe Caputo said, “We applaud the Victorian Royal Commission for ensuring the breadth and scope of the report and recommendations extends to include women from CALD backgrounds, who are a vulnerable group.”

Women from CALD backgrounds who experience family violence are often reluctant to disclose the violence due to a range of factors including language barriers, social isolation, mistrust of police and the justice system, shame and stigma associated with seeking help, lack of culturally competent services and immigration status.  In some CALD communities, women experience specific forms of family violence including forced marriage, dowry-associated violence, female genital mutilation, and violence from the extended family.

The report considers the needs and experiences of people from CALD communities who are affected by family violence, including approaches to prevention of violence in migrant communities, raising community awareness and increasing knowledge about family violence.  Specific issues relating to access to services are also examined in the report, including overcoming language barriers and the appropriate use of interpreters.

FECCA commends the Victorian Government on its commitment to implementing all 227 recommendations from the report.

“These reforms will make a significant difference to the lives of women from CALD backgrounds who experience family violence” said Mr Caputo.  “The recommendations made in this report will improve access to culturally appropriate family violence services, increase the appropriate use of interpreters, and importantly work to prevent violence in our communities.”

The report makes recommendations to broaden legal and community understandings of family violence:

  • Amend the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) to expand the statutory examples of family violence to include forced marriage and dowry-related abuse;
  • The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Victorian Multicultural Commission, community organisations and other relevant bodies, develop a strategy for informing service providers, specialist family violence services and other community organisations about the health impacts of female genital mutilation, emphasising that it can be a form of family violence and a criminal offence.

FECCA’s research on language services has identified a number of gaps in the training of interpreters and implementation of language services policies, particularly in relation to health, legal and domestic violence matters.  As such, it is positive to see the inclusion of recommendations in relation to interpreters and language services:

  • Update Victorian Government guidelines on policy and procedures in using interpretative services to specifically deal with family violence – in particular, the risks of using perpetrators, children and other family members as interpreters, as well as using the same interpreter for both perpetrators and victim;
  • The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria allocate specific funding for family violence interpreters and develop court guidelines for booking interpreters in family violence matters;
  • Victoria Police amend the Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence to emphasise the risks associated with using children as interpreters, using the same interpreter for both perpetrator and victim, as well as to provide practical guidance to officers on the use of interpreters. Training should be provided at all appropriate levels of the Police on the amended Code of Practice requirements relating to interpreters;
  • The Victorian Government, as member of the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd, will work with the other members of the authority to ensure that accreditation and testing processes and approval of translator and interpreter courses require an understanding of the nature and dynamics of family violence.

The Royal Commission recognises that the immigration status of women who experience family violence has a significant impact on their experience of that violence and their ability to leave a violent relationship.  The report recommends:

  • The Victorian Government, through the Council of Australian Governments, encourage the Commonwealth Government to broaden the definition of family violence in the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth) so that it is consistent with the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) and to ensure that people seeking to escape violence are entitled to crisis payments (regardless of their visa status).

The Commonwealth Government plays an important role in addressing family violence in our communities, including jointly administering the National Action Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and the Children with State and Territory governments.  FECCA will be approaching the Commonwealth Government to encourage the implementation of particular recommendations nationally, including changes to eligibility for crisis payments and changes to the family violence exception for migration.

FECCA also recommends the implementation of the Australian Law Reform Council’s recommendations in relation to migration law, made in its 2011 report Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws – Improving Legal Frameworks, to further strengthen the migration framework for women experiencing violence.

You can read the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence report here: http://files.rcfv.com.au/Reports/RCFV_Full_Report_Interactive.pdf.

Media Comments: FECCA Office – (02) 6282 5755, media@fecca.org.au.

Parliamentary report recommends promoting benefits of cultural diversity to employers

29 March 2016

The House of Representatives Committee on Education and Employment recently released its report on inhibitors to employment for small business and disincentives to working for individuals.

The House of Representatives Committee on Education and Employment recently released its report on inhibitors to employment for small business and disincentives to working for individuals.

FECCA made a submission to the inquiry and appeared before the committee to give evidence about issues specifically affecting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) workers.  Key barriers to employment included difficulty having overseas qualifications recognised, negative stereotypes and racism, absence of personal networks and lack of Australian work experience.  FECCA recommended that education for employers was necessary to promote the benefits of having a culturally diverse workforce to improve productivity, innovation and growth.

The committee proposed that the Australian Small Business Ombudsman, Small Business Commissioners, Chambers of Commerce, Business Enterprise Centres and peak small business organisations develop strategies to promote to small business about the benefits of workers from CALD backgrounds.  Where appropriate, the providers of small business advisory services should incorporate an explanation into written and verbal material on how a small business can benefit from recruiting a person from a CALD background.

You can read FECCA’s submissions to the inquiry here:

You can read the committee report here: http://www.aph.gov.au/SmallBusinessEmployment.

Media Comments: FECCA Office – (02) 6282 5755, media@fecca.org.au.

FECCA welcomes ALP’s plan to tackle inequality and support early childhood

18 March 2016

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) welcomes the Australian Labor Party’s social policy agenda, ‘Our Future – Growing Together’, that aims to tackle inequality.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) welcomes the Australian Labor Party’s social policy agenda, ‘Our Future – Growing Together’, that aims to tackle inequality.

Major national social reforms are imperative to provide unique pathways for achieving positive outcomes for all individuals. FECCA highlights the importance of child care and early childhood education for CALD children. The quality of life of migrant and refugee children is directly affected by their access to appropriate early childhood education and care services. Social reforms that are both inclusive and responsive are necessary to meet the needs of this group.

FECCA Chairperson Joe Caputo said, “We welcome Federal Labor’s agenda outline targeted strategies for CALD families, to ensure children from CALD backgrounds are given the same opportunities as every other Australian child.”

“We are pleased to see that the ALP’s agenda recognises that families from culturally and linguistically diverse communities may require greater support in the early years of their children’s lives.”

Child care and preschool attendance have been consistently found to affect early child development. Children of migrants and refugees may not have much or any exposure to English language at home, so early childhood education is particularly important for the development of their language skills. Child care also provides an important opportunity for migrant children to be exposed to Australian social culture, assisting with their later transition to formal schooling.

FECCA believes that the right resources must be invested into early childhood development and education, to ensure that children from CALD backgrounds develop a sense of belonging, have access to adequate support, and are empowered to preserve and develop their cultural identity.

We are also pleased to see a focus on strengthening community engagement in policy development, including CALD communities and organisations. Migrants and their children make up a significant proportion of the Australian population. For society to be harmonious, fair, equitable and prosperous, there is a need for policies that ensure all Australians, regardless of their background, can contribute to our society and, in turn, benefit from it.

Media Comments: FECCA Office – (02) 6282 5755 or media@fecca.org.au.

Cross-sector collaboration to advance research on ageing for older CALD Australians

10 March 2016

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) today held a National Roundtable to discuss a research agenda around ageing and aged care for older culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians, at Parliament House in Canberra.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) today held a National Roundtable to discuss a research agenda around ageing and aged care for older culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians, at Parliament House in Canberra.

With developments in this area being somewhat fragmented, participants of the Roundtable brought their expertise to analyse the gaps and work towards a strategic agenda on advancing research around ageing in CALD communities.

FECCA Chairperson Joe Caputo said, “The Roundtable provided an opportunity for collaboration between researchers, ethnic communities, the aged care sector, and policy-makers, to improve ageing experience for Australians from CALD backgrounds.”

Participants identified the collaboration across sectors and inclusion beginning from the grassroots as key components to advancing research around ageing and aged care for older CALD Australians.

Ensuring CALD people are at the centre of research was also highlighted as vital components to the process.

Translating research into policy and practice was highlighted as a crucial aspect, including looking at international comparisons and how this can influence Australian practice.

NARI Director Briony Dow discussed the importance of including the scientific rigour of research saying, “Research should be a representation of our population, with all research including people from CALD backgrounds. This is not just a social equity issue, but an issue of scientific rigour.”

Roundtable participants discussed how it was imperative that there is active and equal partnership in research, as well as to build an understanding of the international aspects and the intersectional nature of CALD ageing and aged care.

Participants agreed on conceptualising a strategic research agenda based on the gaps identified by FECCA’s review of Australian Research on Older People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds, and discussion from the roundtable today.

Participants also agreed that given the diversity of Australia’s population, and in particular the diversity of people over the age of 65, issues affecting CALD older people need to be embraced as part of all research and service delivery.

The Roundtable heard from two Ministers and two Shadow Ministers, demonstrating the bipartisan support for positive and healthy ageing for older CALD Australians and culturally appropriate aged care. We were pleased to be joined by the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, The Hon Ken Wyatt MP; the Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs, The Hon Craig Laundy MP: the Shadow Minister for Ageing, The Hon Shayne Neumann MP; and the Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Ms Michelle Rowland MP.

Media Comments: FECCA – Lavanya Kala, 0420 632 360 or media@fecca.org.au.

NARI – Penny Underwood, (03) 9818 8540

FECCA-NARI Roundtable aims to improve the healthy ageing experience of older CALD Australians

7 March 2016

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) are holding a National Roundtable to examine the gaps in research around ageing and aged care for older culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians, on Thursday 10 March 2016 at Parliament House in Canberra.

The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) and the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) are holding a National Roundtable to examine the gaps in research around ageing and aged care for older culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians, on Thursday 10 March 2016 at Parliament House in Canberra.

FECCA Chairperson Joe Caputo said, “Our aim is to improve the healthy ageing experience for older CALD Australians.”

With developments in this area fragmented and sporadic, FECCA commissioned a review and in March 2015 released its seminal report: A Review of Australian Research on People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds which identified a range of gaps in research.

It also launched its 2020 Vision for Older CALD Australians, recognising research opportunities as a support mechanism for this vision.

The collaboration of FECCA and NARI is an innovative approach between industry and research, to develop a research agenda and plan of action to further advance our understanding of the needs of older CALD Australians, in line with the Government’s reform agenda.

Over recent years, NARI has also undertaken research into service access and gaps for older CALD Australians, and the issues faced for community workers and health professionals about strategies to improve services.

“Better policy and practice must be informed by a robust evidence-base that is gained through research, which goes to the grassroots, and can then be translated into action”, said Mr Caputo.

NARI Director Associate Professor Briony Dow said, “Of particular importance is the need for research to better understand the experiences of older CALD Australians and how they differ from those of older Anglo-Australians.

“At present they are often excluded from research due to language barriers.  It is time that this changed – we need better knowledge of approaches to aged care for older CALD Australians so that aged care services are accessible, culturally appropriate and timely.”

Contributing their expertise to the Roundtable are policy makers, government officials, leading academics and stakeholders with an interest in the health and ageing of older CALD Australians.

Media Comments: FECCA – Lavanya Kala, 0420 632 360 or media@fecca.org.au.

  NARI – Penny Underwood, (03) 9818 8540.