Temporary visas can expose refugee and migrant women to a specific type of domestic abuse leveraging their fragile status in Australia, a new study shows.
The report draws on survey responses from almost 1,400 migrant and refugee women and is the first national study to examine controlling behaviour related to visa and migration status.
"This includes threats from husbands and partners of deportation and sometimes threats to be separated from their own children, some who may be Australian citizens," Harmony Alliance Chair Nyadol Nyuon told the National Press Club on Wednesday.
More than 90 per cent of respondents had experienced some form of controlling behaviour, while about 40 per cent reported physical or sexual violence.
Of the women who reported different forms of victimisation such as threats or property damage, about 40 per cent believed the crimes were motivated by bias or prejudice.
"That suggests we still have some work to do on the issue of racism and discrimination," Ms Nyuon said.
Her life "changed dramatically" when she went from being a stateless refugee to an Australian citizen, but Ms Nyuon told the Press Club the country that embraced her also rejected her.
She detailed experiences of family members subjected to racist abuse, and said outspoken refugees and migrants could be labelled ungrateful to the country they called home.
"The truth is, I am afraid to even mention these incidents because many people expect that because of what Australia has given me, I should simply be grateful," she said.
"Criticism by people like me, people who look like me, is seen as a sign of our potential disloyalty. We should go back to where we came from if we don't like Australia as it is."
The Migrant and Refugee Women in Australia: The Safety and Security Study report was led by researchers from Monash University's Migration and Inclusion Centre and Harmony Alliance.