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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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About ANROWS

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.


EXTERNALLY FUNDED RESEARCH PROJECTS

Reducing gendered harm in involuntary mental health service provision

Background

Involuntary mental health treatment is often traumatising, with women reporting additional gendered dimensions of harm, including sexual harassment and assault, as well as experiences of treatment that ignore the impacts of gendered violence on women's lives or that mirror the power dynamics of gendered violence. Using an action research framework that draws upon the voices of women with lived experiences, their families and loved ones, and professionals, this study aims to contribute to improved strategies for responding to women's mental distress. Expected outcomes include co-designed resources to support gender-sensitive practices in mental healthcare, and co-produced collective responses that offer creative and hopeful alternatives to coercive and biomedically focused understandings of women's distress.

Aim

This project aims to develop a comprehensive analysis of the experiences and perspectives of women who have received involuntary mental health treatment, their families and loved ones, and workers within these settings; to produce co-designed resources that inform the development of gender-sensitive responses to women experiencing mental distress; and to make space for collective responses from women with lived experiences of acute psychiatric services.

Methods

In the first year of the project, in-depth interviewing and arts-based qualitative methods are being used to produce rich, nuanced, and detailed understandings of women's experiences of involuntary mental health treatment, and the perspectives of their families and loved ones, and workers. Interviews with women with first-hand experiences are being co-conducted with a research assistant who identifies as a survivor of gendered harms suffered during involuntary treatment.

Following this, the study will employ action research methods to support the project's co-design aims, including the development of strategies to support gender-sensitive mental health practices. Participatory action research methods will be used to make space for women's collective actions in co-constructing creative and hopeful alternatives to coercive and biomedically focused mental health responses.

Significance

The project will generate significant new knowledge to improve national and international mental health service provision, with a particular focus on women who have experienced gendered violence and women who have received mental health treatment that has been a harmful or re-traumatising experience. This study will develop resources and strategies co-designed by women with lived experience, their families and mental health professionals to guide mental health policy and practice in relation to women experiencing acute mental distress. A key focus of the study will be on the development of alternatives to coercive practices, which have been shown to have many deleterious effects.

Funding Body

Australian Research Council (Project ID: DE210100391)

Project start date

May 2021

Expected completion date

December 2023
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