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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 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. 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. 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.

ALSWH have 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.

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 services 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.

Researchers

Project lead

Professor Deborah Loxton, Deputy Director, Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health

Research team

Natalie Townsend, Research Manager, Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health

Peta Forder, Senior Statistician, Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health

Research partners

The research team have long standing 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.

Budget

$295,865

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