Prevention of Violence against Women
Women’s Health Grampians is the lead organisation for the prevention of violence against women in the Grampians region.
WHG is committed to the prevention of violence against women because in Australia:
- one women is murdered by her partner or ex-partner every week
- one in three women will experience physical violence during their lifetime
- one in five women will experience sexual violence during their lifetime.
The Grampians Region consistently has:
- higher rates of family violence than metropolitan regions and
- higher rates of family violence incidents than the state wide average.
Our goal is to prevent violence against women before it occurs by addressing gender inequities and challenging rigid gender stereotypes in our communities.
The National Framework ‘Change the Story’ from OurWatch is available below:
- What is ‘violence against women’?
Violence against women and their children is a prevalent, serious and preventable human rights abuse. One woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner and thousands more are injured or made to live in fear. The social, health and economic costs of violence against women are enormous. Preventing such violence is a matter of national urgency, and can only be achieved if we all work together.
Violence against women is defined by the UN Convention on the Elimination of Violence Against Women as:
“Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”[i]
Violence against women is recognised by the United Nations as a violation of women’s rights and freedoms as human beings. As long as violence against women continues governments and communities are failing to protect and promote women’s rights and freedoms.
- How common is violence against women?
Violence against women in Australia is widespread and not unique to any one group. Women of all ages, cultures, backgrounds and economic situations in Australia can experience violence.
One in three
- In Australia one in three women will experience physical violence during their life time.
One in five
- In Australia one in five women will experience sexual violence in their life time.
- Every week in Australia a women is murdered by her partner or ex-partner.
3411 – is the number of reported family violence incidents in the Grampians region during 2014-2015.
- Violence against regional and remote women
Regional and rural women face particular circumstances that can compound their disadvantage, discrimination and experiences of gender inequalities.
These include such challenges as:
- Poor or limited access to services including legal, transport, housing and healthcare (Wendt, et al., 2015)
- Reduced employment options (ABS, 2015)
- Limited access to and high cost of childcare options (Campo & Tayton, 2015)
- High costs of fuel, fresh food, utilities, dental and medical services (McLachlan, et al., 2013)
- Conservative patriarchal values perpetuating rigid gender stereotypes reinforced by long held traditions that see farming property ownership and inheritance passed through generations of sons
- Practices that make financial independence difficult, with women’s finances sometimes tied to large assets (e.g., farming properties) that they cannot easily access or control independently (ALSWH, 2011; Campo & Tayton, 2015)
- Increased risk of disaster such as flood/bushfire, which has been linked to increased reliance on traditional gender roles and stereotypes (at times of crisis), and increased incidents of family and domestic violence (Parkinson & Zara, 2013)
- Physical and social isolation making access to technology, information and challenging gender inequality more difficult (Campo & Tayton, 2015)
- Visibility and invisibility – being known in smaller communities can make confidentiality For women from CALD communities, this can be compounded through a lack of and by different looks and practices that make them highly visible (George & Harris, 2014)
- Poor community understanding of the prevalence of gender inequality and the outcomes that result for women, men and the community and the importance and nature of gender transformative behaviours.
Rural women face additional risk and disadvantage when faced with other systems of discrimination or oppression:
- women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience family violence than women without a disability
- Aboriginal women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than non-Aboriginal women
- CALD women face additional barriers to safety (including language, immigration risks, fear of police/courts and strict cultural beliefs)
- Elderly women are at an increased risk of experiencing violence
(Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, 2015)
- What causes violence against women?
Factors relating to gender inequality are the most consistent predictors of violence against women – this is highlighted in the national framework Change the Story: the shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.
These factors are termed the ‘gendered drivers’ of violence against women. They stem from institutional, social and economic structures, and social and cultural norms and practices, which are gender discriminatory. Together they create environments in which women and men are not considered equal, and disrespect and violence against women is tolerated and even condoned.
Expressions of gender inequality that have been shown to be most consistently associated with higher levels of violence against women include:
- Condoning of violence against women
- Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence
- Belief in rigid or stereotypical gender roles and identities
- Male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women.
The gendered drivers of violence against women should always be considered together with other forms of social discrimination and disadvantage. None predict or drive violence against women on their own – they operate and reinforce each other in complex and different ways.
Alcohol, other drugs and mental health issues are not underlying causes of violence against women, but have the ability to contribute to the frequency and severity of violence. The most significant drivers of family violence relate to gender inequality.
If we tell someone they can’t do something because they’re a girl, or say “don’t be a girl”, we reinforce assumptions and attitudes about gender.
When a man has power over a woman with the things they need, want or fear, it’s an unequal power balance. It happens at work, in schools, in clubs and in the home.
Every person can challenge gender inequality when it is seen, heard or experienced. When we challenge gender inequality we are taking steps to prevent violence against women.
- Who commits violence against women?
Most violence against women is perpetrated by a man who is known to them, such as a current or former intimate partner, an acquaintance or a relative.
- Most women assaulted in the twelve months prior to the Australian Safety Survey were assaulted by either a current or previous partner (31%), a male family member or friend (28%) or a male person (12%)
- 78% of women sexually assaulted since the age of 15 were assaulted by someone known to them.
We are not dismissing the issue of violence against men. Violence is experienced by all parts of our communities. However, we know from the evidence that gender is a key factor in the use of violence.
The overwhelming majority of violence against women or men is committed by men.
The evidence tells us violence against men most often happens in public places by a male stranger and is a single incident.
Violence against women is usually committed by someone known to the woman and is often part of a longer term pattern of abuse and is more likely to lead to serious injury, death or living in fear.
The majority of domestic violence and sexual assault is committed by men against women.
We want Grampians communities to be communities of respect and equality for all. Our approach promotes respectful and non-violent relationships for every person in our community.
- Is it possible to prevent violence against women?
Vic Health research indicates that the causes of violence against women can be modified or eliminated. Given this there is scope to prevent violence before it occurs by:
- Promoting equal and respectful relationships between women and men
- Fostering non-violent social norms and reducing the effects of prior exposure to violence (especially for children)
- Improving access to resources and systems of support.
There is no doubt that significant improvements are required in the system/s responding to family violence. However, primary prevention is vital to reduce its occurrence in the first place and to ultimately create safer communities for women, children and society as a whole. Primary prevention is intervention aimed at addressing the causes of violence against women before violence occurs. Primary prevention of violence against women requires intervention at the cultural level: the beliefs and attitudes that create gender inequities and rigid gender roles. To do this, WHG aims primary prevention at the population level.
As a regional service focusing on the primary prevention of violence against women, at the population level, there are four key factors that underpin our work and support success:
- A whole of community approach
- A systems approach to driving social change
- National and state level leadership
- Evidence based frameworks
- What is Women’s Health Grampians doing to prevent violence against women?
- Developing a regional evidence base to inform prevention initiatives in the region. See our PVAW Resource Hub
- Undertaking capacity building activities with local government and community organisations to strengthen prevention of violence against women action across the region
- Leading the development of a regional prevention of violence against women strategy to ensure a collaborative approach to prevention action in the Grampians region – this includes our Communities of Respect and Equality Alliance
- Participating in regional family violence prevention networks
- Contributing to White Ribbon Day action
- Working with industry and business to implement Act@Work to build healthy and respectful workplace cultures, visit our Act@Work page for more information.
In addition to our work in preventing violence against women, Women’s Health Grampians is a committed member of the Central Highlands Integrated Family Violence Committee (CHIFVC) which leads and advocates for a strong and coordinated family violence system in the Central Highlands region.
- For help and assistance
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or requires Police attendance, call POLICE 000
For sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
For state-wide professional support, information and referrals in relation to family violence, please contact Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre on 1800 015 188.
For further information on organisations and services supporting people experiencing violence, please visit our useful links page.
- Resource hub
Women’s Health Grampians has an online PVAW Resource Hub which supports the development and implementation of primary prevention of violence against women initiatives across the Grampians region.
The Hub hosts a collection of resources including evidence, useful tools and policy documents.
New pieces of evidence will be uploaded regularly.
Go to the PVAW Resource Hub