The high cost of being beaten out of house and home

REFUGE operators and domestic violence workers say victims are being left in dire financial straits when they flee their violent homes.

Refugees and New Zealand expats are among the most financially vulnerable victims of Australia's shocking domestic violence epidemic.

Front line workers told APN Newsdesk some women are so broke they are living in refuges for a year.

Women on spousal and student visas are particularly vulnerable because they cannot get government benefits.

The revelation follows the release of a National Research Organisation for Women's Safety study that shows the extent of intimate partner violence against women is much bigger than the experts thought.

The study re-analysed ABS Census data and took into account relationships involving partners such as boyfriends. It found one in four women is being victimised.

It was previously believed one in six women was affected.

READ MORE: State Government considers 18 demands from DV workers

The report also found seven out 10 female victims were left without assets as a result of the violence.

Study author Peta Cox said the issue was also hurting the economy because one in four victims needed to take time off work.

"There is a significant impact on victims in terms of assets and it does surprise, Ms Cox said.

"It does surprise me in terms of the economic impact.

"One in four women need to take time off work and that is indicative of the broader productivity costs in relation to intimate partner violence."

Combined Women's Refuge Group Ipswich representative Cathy Johns said having financial support for visa applicants, who are not eligible for government benefits, would ensure they could move into long-term accommodation sooner.

This would mean more women in immediate crisis could be helped as refuge beds became available.

Ms Johns said some women from overseas were staying in refuges for up to 12 months.

"We have clients who come to Australia on spousal, student or other types of visas and then domestic violence happens and they have to go into refuges," Ms Johns said.

"We support them to get permanent residency but that generally takes 12 months under the domestic violence provision.

"They stay in one of our properties for 12 months and we provide their electricity, all of their living costs, food, schooling, health costs and visits to the doctors if they are not Medicare eligible."

Nicole Edwards, who started RizeUp to help meet the material and financial needs of victims, said the financial burden on her clients was massive.

"We take referrals from refuge organisations and what we are seeing is such a dire need for families to be supported with practical items," Ms Edwards said.

If you need support phone Womensline on 1800 811 811, Mensline on 1800 600 636 or 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. 


Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety analysis of data collected in the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012 Personal Safety Survey also found.

Two thirds of women who experienced sexual violence had also experienced a separate incident of physical violence.

Of women who were sexually assaulted by a man, one in three reported they were physically injured. 31,600 women experienced fractures or broken bones/teeth as a result of the assault.

Two in five women experienced violence while temporarily separated from their most recently violent former partner. A third of these women experienced an increase in violence while temporarily separated.

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