The reason Australia denied Chris Brown’s visa is more complicated than you think

Chris Brown arrives at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles on March 29, 2015.
Chris Brown arrives at the iHeartRadio Music Awards in Los Angeles on March 29, 2015. 

Chris Brown is persona non grata in Australia.

The American R&B singer has been denied a visa Down Under on "character grounds." While the immigration minister has stopped short of saying what's so objectionable about Brown's character, it's widely understood the decision has to do with the celebrity's record of violence toward women. In 2009 Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna.

Brown, who has been to Australia twice since his conviction and was due to tour Australia again in December, was issued a Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal and has 28 days to convince Australian authorities that he should be allowed entry.

At this stage his chances of success seem remote at best — not just because of his past, but because of what's happening right now in Australia.

The issue of domestic violence dominated Australian headlines in September, after at least five women were shot, beaten or stabbed in particularly violent assaults within a few days.

At least three of the women died of their injuries, taking the number of women killed by domestic violence this year to 63.

The shocking incidents fueled a social media campaign that has been using the hashtag #StoptheViolence to raise awareness about the “epidemic” of violence against women in Australia.  

One in six Australian women have been the victim of physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner, according to official data cited by Australia's Research Organization For Women's Safety. That figure is below the global average of one in three — but the numbers for indigenous women in Australia are far worse: a recent government statement says they are "34 times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of family violence."

The issue of family violence against women has moved to the top of the political agenda. In one of his first acts as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull announced a package of measures worth 100 million Australian dollars ($70.23 million) aimed at protecting women and children “at high risk of experiencing violence.” Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott after he was swiftly ousted by parliament in mid-September.

The funding includes $21 million for indigenous women and communities where women are at higher risk of domestic violence. 

It's not an environment in which a famous convicted girlfriend-beater can expect much leeway. So while Brown makes Twitter appeals and his management team remains optimistic that Australian immigration officials will take into consideration the singer’s “continued personal growth, on-going philanthropic endeavors and desire to perform for his fans” in their review of his visa application, his chances of success appear to be close to zero.

"People need to understand if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world, there are going to be countries that say to you, ‘You cannot come in because you are not of the character we expect in Australia,’ and certainly, without pre-empting the decision of the (immigration) minister, I can assure you it is something that the minister is looking at,” Minister for Women Michaelia Cash told the Guardian.

It wouldn't be the first time Brown has been refused entry to a country over his history of domestic violence.

Chances are it won’t be the last.