Your Matters Matter – Samira

Your Matters Matter – Samira

By Jaskiran Rekhraj

Samira first came to our Lakemba Advice Bureau in late 2015. She was considering leaving her marriage and her home and had been referred to us by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).

After listening to Samira’s story, it was apparent that she needed assistance with a number of legal matters, including immigration, family law and financial abuse.

Samira’s husband had racked up thousands of dollars of debt in her name and repeatedly made threats to harm her and take their child away.

After marrying her husband, Samira had applied for a Partner visa but this had not yet been granted. Following the birth of their daughter, Samira could not work and had to beg for money from her husband to buy groceries and baby formula. Samira’s husband also psychologically abused her and would frequently restrict her from leaving their house.

Samira left this destructive relationship in early 2016. It required a strong collaborative effort between a Salvos Legal Chaplain and her FACS worker to secure safe accommodation.

Samira was not receiving any Centrelink support payments due to her residency and had no financial mechanism to support herself. Eventually she and her daughter were placed into emergency accommodation.

Through her caseworker, Samira later made an application for Centrelink payments on the basis that her daughter was an Australian citizen. Samira also underwent trauma counselling for the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband.

Salvos Legal Humanitarian took on Samira’s immigration matter and secured a Legal Aid grant for her family law matter.

Our Chaplains made a referral to The Salvation Army’s MoneyCare service for financial counselling and provided ongoing support to Samira and her daughter including support from the local Salvation Army corps in the form of nappies and non-perishable food.

While at first Samira could not face the reality of her situation, with counselling and our guidance she began to accept her circumstances and become actively involved to better them. She committed herself to making a new life for herself and her daughter. Her dream was to make a home for her daughter independently and to one day be able to visit her mother overseas.

Samira’s Partner visa application had been mismanaged by the migration agent her husband had hired who had failed to submit essential documents. Salvos Legal Humanitarian made submissions to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection explaining Samira’s circumstances.

To satisfy the requirements of a Partner visa, the couple must be in a genuine and continuing relationship. An exception to this requirement is where family violence has occurred.

The Department requested further documentation relating to Samira’s character and passport. This required obtaining a police check from her home country which took two months plus translation to English.

On the day that we submitted the translation of her police check – six months after she contacted us to let us know she was ready to leave the relationship – Samira was granted a residential Partner visa. The Partner visa allows Samira to work, obtain Centrelink benefits and become an Australian citizen in five years.

The relief she felt at this news caused her to burst into tears when she was informed. Samira showed her gratitude by bringing gifts to all those who had worked on her case and stated that the help she received from Salvos Legal Humanitarian was akin to having two hands around her – one pushing her forward and one supporting her all the way.

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Your Matters Matter – Samira
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