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Our research

Violence against women and 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.


News and events

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.



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.



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.


Domestic violence, social security and the couple rule

July 2019

The couple rule is used to determine if a social security applicant is separated and/or single or a member of a couple. If considered a member of a couple, her and her perpetrator's income and assets are assessed jointly.

This rule ties women’s access to social security payment to the income and assets of their perpetrator. It uses reports of domestic violence as evidence of a committed relationship and evidence of domestic violence is interpreted as evidence for a relationship.

This project detailed the dynamic between domestic violence, social security payment, and the couple rule. It examined the pre-existing data set of Administrative Appeal Tribunal decisions of couple rule matters and compared this to decisions made in New Zealand (where domestic violence is interpreted as evidence of no relationship). These data sources provide rich, reliable and non-invasive qualitative detail of social security decision making.


Project Lead

Dr Lyndal Sleep, Griffith University (Early Career Researcher)

Research expertise

Prof Heather Douglas, University of Queensland

Ms Zoe Rathus, Griffith University


Research Report

Domestic violence, social security and the couple rule

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Research Summary

Domestic violence, social security and the couple rule: Key findings and future directions

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Priority populations

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse women, older women, women with disability, women who are, or have been, incarcerated, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex women and women who live in rural and remote areas (as a focus).



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

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Contact ANROWS

PO Box Q389, Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230
Email: enquiries@anrows.org.au      

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