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Research Translation & Impact

Informing the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032

The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health welcomes the new National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032.

Professor Deb Loxton, ALSWH Director at the University of Newcastle, applauded the ambitious plan, which brings together Australia’s state, territory and federal governments with a commitment to end violence against women and children within one generation.

The National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 has four focus areas: prevention; early intervention; response; and recovery and healing.

“ALSWH was the first study to show the significant long-term physical and mental health impacts of domestic violence using longitudinal data, and we have advocated strongly for policies to include recovery,”

“We’re especially pleased to see that the Plan acknowledges the long-term health impacts of violence. It also includes action items to support women’s long-term recovery and to further invest in research on the long-term impacts of gender-based violence.”

Professor Deborah Loxton, ALSWH Director, the University of Newcastle

The evidence-base

ALSWH has collected data on the prevalence and impact of interpersonal violence among its 1921-26, 1946-51, and 1973-78 cohorts for over 25 years. The youngest cohort of women, born 1989-95, have provided almost a decade of data on their health, wellbeing and experiences of violence. Participants have also answered survey responses about their historical experiences of violence, including childhood abuse.

Research using ALSWH data has shown that:

  • Domestic violence continues to have significant long-term impacts on women’s physical and mental health for at least 16 years
  • Women who have experienced violence have higher rates of health service use
  • The prevalence of sexual violence against women in Australia was much higher than previously thought – 51% of women in their 20’s, 34% of women in their 40s, and 26% of women aged 68 to 73 have experienced sexual violence.
  • Sexual violence was related to poorer health and financial stress across all age groups
  • Young women in financial hardship are two to three times more likely to have experienced violence
  • 1 in 20 middle-aged women in a caregiving role has also experienced intimate partner violence. They are twice as likely to suffer from depressive symptoms and stress and have worse health than other women.
  • Social support was indicated as a factor that might assist in recovery from domestic and sexual violence

Research Translation

Research and data from ALSWH contributed directly to the new plan throughout the consultation process.

Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence

In 2020, ALSWH provided a written submission to the Inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence. Representatives from ALSWH were invited to provide further evidence at the Committee’s Public Hearing. ALSWH’s submission made the following recommendations:

  1. Existing national studies, such as ALSWH, should be funded to analyse existing data to answer key questions about the long-term impacts of domestic, sexual and family violence, and the factors that mitigate those impacts.
  2. Existing national studies should be funded to collect more extensive and comparable data on domestic violence and abuse as a part of standard data collection. Building on existing studies ensures cost-effectiveness.
  3. Facilitation of linkage between existing study data with administrative data (e.g. crime statistics, Centrelink) would strengthen the existing evidence base and enable timely responses.
  4. Many of the terms of reference included in this inquiry can be examined using existing data, such as ALSWH. For example, ALSWH includes, but is not limited to, data on health, housing, and different forms of violence.
  5. The long-term impact of violence indicates the need to understand how women recover from abuse experiences, in order to inform the development of much needed trauma recovery services.

National Plan Consultation Reports

ALSWH made a submission to the National Plan Consultation through an online questionnaire and staff attended two Victim Survivor Advocates workshops as part of the consultation process. Participation in the workshops was by invitation only. In addition, the National Plan Stakeholder Consultation Report references the ALSWH website in its source list. The ALSWH website lists publications and reports and provides access to other resources drawing on ALSWH data.

National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032

The National Plan cites the report A life course approach to determining the prevalence and impact of sexual violence in Australia: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. This report was undertaken with project funding from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS). It gives recommendations for:

  • A holistic response to sexual violence that takes account of women’s whole lives at both policy and practice levels
  • Consistency in defining sexual violence
  • The need for a life course approach to understanding sexual violence and its impacts
  • the prevention of further disadvantage through addressing economic distress
  • reducing the risk of poor physical and mental health
  • promotion of recovery from experiences of sexual violence through social support and accessible health services

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