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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.


RP.17.09

Constructions of complex trauma and implications for women’s wellbeing and safety from violence

Project length
2+ years

Approximately one quarter of women who have experienced gendered violence present complex trauma involving multiple types of physical and sexual victimisation and mental illness, substance abuse and ongoing victimisation.


These women frequently come to the attention of health, welfare and law enforcement agencies. Understandings of complex trauma are, however, inconsistent across these services, which leads to fragmented and sometimes ineffective responses from services and professionals. The guiding question of the study is: “How can agencies and services improve collaboration to meet the health and safety needs of women with complex trauma?” The aims of the project are to:

  1. Analyse how complex trauma experienced by women is constructed in public policy at a national, state and territory level.
  2. Examine institutional approaches to women’s complex trauma in the mental health, alcohol and other drug and sexual assault/domestic violence sectors in New South Wales and Queensland.
  3. Document how women with complex trauma understand complex trauma, and their experiences and encounters with agencies while seeking help.
  4. Develop models of improved and collaborative responses to enhance the wellbeing and safety of women with complex trauma and their children.
  5. Policy and practice recommendations to enhance the wellbeing and safety of women with complex trauma, developed in partnership with an expert steering committee.

Researchers

Project lead

Dr Michael Salter, Western Sydney University

Research expertise

Dr Elizabeth Conroy, Western Sydney University

Professor Jane Ussher, Western Sydney University

Associate Professor Molly Dragiewicz, Queensland University of Technology

Practice expertise

Dr Jackie Burke, Jackie Burke Psychology and Consulting, WSU fellow

Professor Warwick Middleton, Director, Trauma & Dissociation Unit, Belmont Hospital

Research partners / Confirmed advisory group members:

Blue Knot Foundation

Jarrah House

Canberra Rape Crisis

International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation


Priority populations

Women with disability, women who are, or have been, incarcerated, women who live in rural and remote areas (as explicit topic).

Budget

$179,099

Funded by Australian Commonwealth, state and territory governments under ANROWS’s 2017 core grant round.

find out more

Contact ANROWS

PO Box Q389, Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230
Phone: 61 2 8374 4000
| Email: enquiries@anrows.org.au

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