Our Research

The Leaders in Gendered Violence Research

The Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN) at UNSW is one of Australia’s leading research hubs for investigating, exploring and finding solutions to prevent gendered violence.

The following snapshot of publications and research findings related to domestic, family and sexual violence and work were prepared by the GRVN or its predecessor, the Centre of Gender-Related Violence studies, which housed the Australian and Domestic Family Violence Clearinghouse.

Contact Us 

Mailin Suchting, Manager
Gendered Violence Research Network, UNSW
Phone: +61 2 9385 2991
Email: m.suchting@unsw.edu.au

Economic Abuse as an Invisible Form of Domestic Violence: A Multicountry Review, 2020

The predominant perception of intimate partner violence (IPV) as constituting physical violence can still dominate, particularly in research and media reports, despite research documenting multiple forms of IPV including sexual violence occurring between intimate partners and various forms of psychological and emotional abuse. One frequently hidden or “invisible” form of abuse perpetrated within intimate partner relationships is economic abuse, also referred to as financial abuse in much of the literature. While the links between gendered economic insecurity and economic abuse are emerging, there remains a lack of consistency about definitions within the United States and globally, as there is no agreed upon index with which to measure economic abuse. As such, the purpose of this article is to review and analyze the global literature focused on either economic or financial abuse to determine how it is defined and what measures are used to capture its prevalence and impact. The 46 peer-reviewed articles that met all inclusion criteria for analysis came from a range of countries across six continents. Our review found that there is growing clarity and consistency of terminologies being used in these articles and found some consistency in the use of validated measures. Since this research is in its “infancy,” we need to have stronger collaborative efforts to use similar measures and terminology. Part of that collaborative effort is to consider how language and cultural differences may play a part in our understanding of economic abuse.

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Women who use alcohol and other drugs during pregnancy: exploring the complexity of client engagement and their compliance with human service expectations, 2020

Women who use drugs during pregnancy are required to intersect with numerous services in relation to their and their unborn child’s well-being. The purpose of this article is to stimulate practitioner debate and consideration of the ways in which substance using women engage with diverse services and specific professional groups during pregnancy and the extent to which they may comply with the various treatment plans developed for them – or not. Drawing on literature, different ways to conceptualise engagement and compliance in health and welfare interventions are discussed and key practice issues related to these concepts are identified for this client cohort. Insights from an amalgamated case exemplar informed by practice and the available literature comprehensively draws together and highlights the personal challenges women face, whilst at the same time required to navigate inconsistent expectations between the health, alcohol and other drugs treatment and child protection systems, along with the ever-present threat of removal of their infant at birth. The role of social workers in hospital and community settings in bridging the perceived divide between clients and child protection services and also in promoting collaboration is explored. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

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A scoping review of adult survivors’ experiences of shame following sexual abuse in childhood, 2019

Shame following childhood sexual abuse (CSA) can be intensely painful and destructive to one's sense of self and place in the world. Organised around an internalised core belief of worthlessness, extreme shame presents as a major therapeutic challenge in therapy with many CSA survivors. A range of clinical and empirical literature, alongside recounts of survivors lived experience, shows that shame is an effect of CSA for many survivors. Yet research has rarely focused specifically on survivors’ qualitative or lived experiences of shame. This article reports the results of a scoping review of the empirical research investigating adult survivors’ experiences of shame following sexual abuse in their childhood. Conducted in March 2018, the search strategy involved on‐line searches of English language, peer review and select grey literature repositories for articles published up to the end of 2017. Of the 28 peer reviewed studies included in the review, only three studies specifically investigate adult survivors lived experiences of shame. The synthesised findings from the studies identify five themes demonstrating the pervasive and detrimental influence of shame following CSA: (1) Psychological effects and trauma symptoms; (2) Relationships and social connections and disconnections; (3) Disclosure; (4) Self concept; and, (5) The process of recovery. These findings resonate with conceptual literature and broader research on the influence of shame following violence and highlight areas for future research and clinical practice. This scoping review identifies three key gaps: a need for further research across specific populations and groups; research evaluating therapeutic interventions responding to shame; and research that specifically investigates adult survivors’ lived experiences of shame following CSA.

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Is gender important? Victimisation and perpetration of intimate partner violence in mainland China, 2019

Establishing the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) has been recommended by International Conventions and Declarations for some time beginning with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Articles 12 and 19) in 1979. One important recommendation of such international protocols is the implementation of national population prevalence surveys to establishing IPV as a serious social issue globally, which is intended to provide data for planning effective responses within signatory countries. However, not all countries have undertaken national prevalence surveys meaning that there are gaps in our understanding of who are the perpetrators and victims of IPV in different cultural contexts. This article presents the results of a scoping review of literature examining gender differences in prevalence rates of victimisation and perpetration of IPV in mainland China (hereon China). There has been little written about the prevalence of IPV in China generally, and this scoping process located only nine peer‐reviewed articles written in both English‐ and Chinese‐language journals focusing on both gender and IPV published between 1997 and 2016. Results of this scoping review demonstrate that while both women and men perpetrate IPV in China, the prevalence rates of different types of IPV reflect gender differences in both perpetration and victimisation, suggesting that IPV is not a unitary phenomenon. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of the findings including the importance of increasing awareness of IPV in China more generally and developing gender‐specific interventions to directly address different types of IPV. Directions for future research are also canvassed.

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Estimating the Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence in Mainland China – Insights and Challenges, 2019

Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been the subject of inquiry by scholars and governments, the latter being required by International Conventions and explicitly supported in National Plans in select jurisdictions to undertake this type of research. While establishing the prevalence of IPV has been a priority globally for some time now, there has been relatively little focus on estimating the prevalence of IPV in Mainland China until recently. This article presents the findings of a scoping review of literature examining the prevalence of IPV in China. The scoping process located only 14 peer-reviewed articles written in English and 12 in Chinese-language journals published between 1997 and 2016 meeting the inclusion criteria set for the review. The results of the scoping review indicate that in China, the lifetime prevalence of victimization of IPV reported in the general population is within a range of 17.4 to 24.5% for psychological violence, 2.5 to 5.5% for physical violence, and 0.3 to 1.7% for sexual violence using national survey data. The prevalence of IPV in China can also be estimated from research data sets focusing on specific population groups. However, the methodologies used in such studies vary considerably making comparison of results difficult. As well as providing insight into the prevalence of IPV in China, this article identifies the challenges in estimating prevalence and presents contextual factors particular to China. Directions for future research to develop a culturally specific definition of IPV and identify IPV in non-married couples are also suggested.

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Responses to family and domestic violence: supporting women? 2016

At a time when domestic and family violence (DFV) is being cast as a national emergency, comparable to terrorism, it is timely to review the relationship between feminist advocacy and state-led responses. The principles of long-standing feminist interventions into DFV, which privilege victims’ accounts of their experience, are at risk of being sidelined in the contemporary emphasis on evidence-based policy and atheoretical approaches. However, promising signs are evident in interventions that support women’s economic security, safe and permanent housing, and employment. These interventions are constituted by specific, local networks of actors including government and non-government organisations. The effects of DFV can be distributed across multiple domains, including workplaces, housing, and courts. These diverse effects may best suit an integrated, multi-systemic response, which is based on recognition of the importance of empowerment, agency, and meeting practical needs.

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Traversing the maze of ‘evidence’ and ‘good practice’ in domestic and family violence provision in Australia, 2014

This paper considers how ‘evidence’ is constructed and translated into ‘best practice’. It contends that the experience and understanding of practitioners within domestic and family violence (DFV) services constitute important contributing
knowledge for the evidence-base. However, practice wisdom alone is not sufficient, since other forms of knowledge also play an important role in optimising outcomes. Ultimately this paper promotes the engagement of DFV practitioners in formal research and evaluation, not only to substantially inform the evidence but also to critically examine the effects of their interventions against all manner of valid evidence, in a recursive process of knowledge translation. It is suggested that a critical, reflexive engagement with formal evidence is ultimately the defining feature of ‘best practice’ in the continuous drive towards an effective response to violence against women.

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Evaluation of the Integrated Domestic and Family Violence Service Program

The NSW Integrated Domestic and Family Violence Service program (IDFVS) provides a multi-agency, integrated and coordinated response to domestic and family violence among high-risk target groups and in targeted communities. Researchers from the Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN) and the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), both at UNSW Sydney, conducted the evaluation of IFDVS. This is a mixed-method inquiry combining a synthesis of service monitoring data, validated scales and measures, as well as qualitative interviews and focus groups. The quantitative evaluation component is a retrospective data analysis based on program service delivery (portal) data for 24 months from July 2015 to June 2017 covering two complete financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17.

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1800RESPECT evaluation

Researchers from SPRC and the Gendered Violence Research Network at UNSW Sydney undertook an evaluation of 1800RESPECT, the national online and telephone counselling service for people affected by domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

The aim of the evaluation was to consider the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of 1800RESPECT, with particular consideration of key operational model changes between 2010 and 2018.

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Context Matters: Developing Good Practice in Workplace Responses to Family & Sexual Violence in Papua New Guinea, 2016 

This article considers the extent to which these workplace strategies can or should be modified for workplaces in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Findings from participatory action research undertaken with family and sexual violence (FSV) service providers, advocates, businesses, and their employees in PNG strongly indicate that workplace strategies should be modified to reflect cultural and other contextual specificities. Workplace strategies should reflect local understandings about what constitutes FSV, who may perpetrate and who may be victimized by FSV, and what supports are available to victims of FSV. It is important to note that while the supports examined are necessarily culturally and contextually specific to PNG, they have subsequently provided important insights relevant for workplace responses in other developing and industrialized countries, thereby extending the evidence base of possible workplace strategies generally.

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Implementation of Domestic Violence Clauses - An Employer's Perspective, 2015

In November 2014, the School of Social Sciences at UNSW with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) jointly funded a project investigating the implementation of ‘Domestic Violence Clauses’ (DV clauses) in select industrial agreements. The purpose of this project is to analyse the effects of implementing the DV clauses from an employer’s perspective. Researchers from the Gendered Violence Research Network at UNSW conducted an online survey of employer experiences of the implementation of DV clauses where they have been negotiated as part of their enterprise agreement or award or implemented through directives.

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Domestic & Family Violence Clauses in Your Workplace – Implementation & Good Practice

This twelve-month (2012-2013) monitoring study was undertaken by the Social Policy Research Centre and the Centre for Gender Related Violence Studies at UNSW with a number of large workplaces which had enterprise agreements that included a domestic violence clause. The monitoring process reinforced that the essential elements for a successful implementation of domestic violence clauses are ongoing monitoring and research, awareness and information strategies, the guarantee of confidentiality, and training.

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Report on a Scoping Study into the Effects of Sexual Violence on Employees & the Workplace 

This scoping study was conducted in Darwin, Australia during 2013 in partnership with the Ruby Gaea Darwin Centre Against Rape and the Northern Territory Working Women’s Centre. It involved 13 in-depth interviews with survivors of sexual violence. The research highlights how the often devastating impact of sexual assault and child sex abuse can also affect employees and the workplace, whether or not the violence takes place at work, and recommends how employers can provide support for survivors.

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Key Findings - National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey, 2011

Between February and July 2011, the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse at UNSW and Micromex Research conducted a national online domestic violence and the workplace survey. The survey was completed by over 3,600 union members. These are the key findings from the research.

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Full Report - National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey, 2011

This Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse submission responds to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 and recommends that specific benchmarks on domestic and family violence workplace rights and entitlements be set and monitored by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

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