Safer Pathways Program

Safer pathways for refugee and immigrant women experiencing family violence.

Funded by the Department of Social Services, the Safer Pathways project provides access to culturally appropriate support to refugee and immigrant women who are experiencing or are at risk of domestic violence or sexual assault. The project links these women with mainstream family and domestic violence or sexual assault services, as well as other service providers in regional areas.

The project aims to:

  • Empower women with knowledge and understanding of Australian laws, rights and cultural norms in relation to family violence and sexual assault.
  • Build capacity of service providers to identify and respond to family violence in refugee and immigrant communities, and understand referral pathways.
  • Support family violence and sexual assault services to provide culturally appropriate, respectful and flexible service responses when needed.

Are you experiencing conflict at home?

Some families experience conflict, abuse and violence that adversely affect their health. Family violence is when a partner or family member hurts you, or tries to dominate you and control what you do. It can take many forms, including physical (e.g. hitting, pushing, smashing things or locking you in), sexual (pressuring, tricking or forcing you to perform sexual acts), emotional (calling you names or deliberately making you feel bad) and financial abuse (stopping your access to money, or controlling what you spend it on) or other controlling behaviours and neglect.

Family violence can happen to anyone, including mothers, fathers, elders and children, however women are more likely than men to be killed by their husband, partner or ex-partner. Women are also more likely to have their health affected by abuse in the home. There are many complicated reasons for why conflict happens in the home, but there is no cultural excuse for family violence. No matter what your culture is, everyone has a right to live safely. Family violence is a crime in Australia.

Who to contact

If you or your children are ever in immediate danger, call the police on 000.

If you want to talk to someone about family violence or need help escaping from abuse, phone Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 or 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), any time during the day or night.

People who experience family violence need to be supported. If you know of someone who may be experiencing family violence, you can help them by providing them with the phone numbers on this page, or by letting them know you are there for them if they ever need any support.

If the situation isn’t dangerous right now, you can also talk to a GP, community legal service or community organisation such as Ballarat Community Health. They can help you to figure out what to do next. If you would rather communicate in your native language, the person helping you can arrange a professional interpreter.

The list below can help you find people or groups that can help you with information, support or emergency assistance.

Family doctor or GP: Your family doctor, or any doctor, can give you advice on what to do if you are being abused. He or she can help you with your physical or psychological injuries or may refer you to someone who can.

Hospital: If you have serious injuries you should go to a hospital. Hospitals have emergency staff who are there to help you if you are hurt or having a health emergency. They may also have special knowledge about family violence. It is best for you to tell the doctors and nurses the truth about what happened. If you are legally entitled to be in Australia—as a refugee, a permanent resident or a sponsored spouse—you are entitled to free health coverage.

Community Health Centre: Call your local community health centre for advice. They may be able to offer information, counselling and provide referrals to social workers. Ballarat Community Health, which also has a Refugee Health Nurse and Settlement Services, can be reached on (03) 5338 4500.

For professionals
Concerned that a client might be experiencing family violence? Here are some resources to help you navigate referral pathways for culturally diverse clients in the Central Highlands and Wimmera.  There are also a couple of useful location-based service directories that are designed to assist you to navigate family violence and relevant support services in Central Highlands and Wimmera. Additionally, the InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence website contains useful information to support people in a range of professions to identify and respond to family violence in migrant and refugee communities.

Help lines and referral services: There are many telephone services (sometimes called crisis lines) that you can call for free 24 hours a day without giving your name. The person who answers the phone will listen to you and can help you make important decisions to stay safe and to keep your children safe. If you choose not to call for help right away, then keep a list of these phone numbers in a safe place you can get to easily.

  • Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre: 1800 015 188, 24 hours
  • National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line: 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732, 24 hours
  • InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence: (03) 9413 6500 Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm
  • WRISC Family Violence Support, Ballarat: (03) 5333 3666 Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm
  • Berry Street Western Region Family Violence Support, Ballarat: (03) 5331 3558 Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm
  • Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA), Ballarat: (03) 5320 3933 Mon- to Fri, 9am to 5.30pm
  • Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 1800 806 292, 24 hours
  • Kids Help Line (for young people aged 5 to 25): 1800 551 800, 24 hours

Friends, family, neighbours: Speak with someone you trust about the abuse. People cannot help you if they do not know what is happening to you.

Legal services: Legal help may be available from a lawyer or a legal aid office. Contact the legal aid offices to get help free of charge.

  • Central Highlands Community Legal Centre, Ballarat: 1800 466 488, Mon to Fri, 9am–5pm
  • Victoria Legal Aid, Ballarat: (03) 9269 0120 or 1800 677 402, Mon to Fri, 9am–5pm

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