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Violence against women and their children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.

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ANROWS hosts events as part of its knowledge transfer and exchange work, including public lectures, workshops and research launches. Details of upcoming ANROWS activities and news are available from the list on the right.

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ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.

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To support the take-up of evidence, ANROWS offers a range of resources developed from research to support practitioners and policy-makers in delivering evidence-based interventions.


4AP.4

A life course approach to determining the prevalence and impact of sexual violence in Australia: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health

Project length
25 months


This project will use data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH), a national, longitudinal, population-based survey examining the health of over 57,000 Australian women. The ALSWH explores factors that influence health and wellbeing among women who are broadly representative of the entire Australian population and is the largest project of its kind ever conducted in Australia. The ALSWH is a national research resource providing an evidence base to the government and other decision-making bodies within Australia for the development and evaluation of policy and practice in many areas of service delivery that affect women.

The ALSWH has collected data on violence and abuse for over 25 years, and provides a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of experiences of violence and abuse. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to take a life course approach to determining the prevalence and impact of sexual violence among Australian women. Analyses will include disaggregation by sexual identity, cultural and linguistic diversity, disability and area of residence, where the data permit.

Research aim/s

The specific aims of this project are to:

  1. Determine the prevalence of sexual violence across the life course, including sexual abuse experienced in childhood and adulthood, perpetrated both within an intimate relationship and outside of such a relationship.
  2. Determine the role of sexual violence as a risk factor for experiences of violence at different life stages.
  3. Identify the impact of sexual violence on socio-economic status over time, including measures of education, paid employment and financial stress.
  4. Determine the nature of associations between sexual violence at different life stages and subsequent health behaviours.
  5. Assess the impact of sexual violence on women’s physical and mental health.
  6. Measure health and other service use in relation to sexual violence, including costs of selected health services and satisfaction with general practitioner services.
  7. Identify those factors that might assist in recovery from sexual violence, including service use, and those time points at which such factors might be best introduced.

 

Methods

This project will use data from the ALSWH, a national, longitudinal, population-based survey examining the health of over 57,000 Australian women. The ALSWH explores factors that influence health and wellbeing among women who are broadly representative of the Australian population, and it is the largest project of its kind ever conducted in Australia. The ALSWH is a national research resource providing an evidence base to the government and other decision-making bodies within Australia for the development and evaluation of policy and practice in many areas of service delivery that affect women.

Significance

This project will provide a strong and comprehensive evidence base for the development of recommendations for the prevention of:

  • further disadvantage through economic distress
  • the uptake or continuation of health behaviours that damage health
  • increased risk of poor physical and mental health
  • dissatisfaction with health and other services.

Where possible, recommendations for priority groups will also be provided.

In addition, the research will allow for recommendations that promote recovery, through interventions based on factors that mediate the association between sexual violence and poor health. The research is designed to increase understanding of women’s experiences of sexual violence and the impact of these experiences throughout life, and to develop empowering, strengths-based solutions in consultation with government and non-government stakeholders.


Researchers

Project lead

Professor Deborah Loxton, Deputy Director Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, Co-Director Centre for Women’s Health Research

Research team

Natalie Townsend, Senior Research Manager, Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health and Centre for Women’s Health Research

Peta Forder, Senior Statistician, Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health and Centre for Women’s Health Research

Research partners

The research team have longstanding relationships with stakeholders in government and non-government positions. The project will be developed in continued consultations with these stakeholders to develop useful and relevant policy recommendations. Furthermore, consultations with Women’s Health NSW and the Women’s Abuse Recovery Network will ensure that the research and results are sensitive and relevant to women who have experienced sexual violence.

See also

MEDIA RELEASE

New study to examine the impacts of sexual violence on women’s health

Find out more

Budget

$295,865

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