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men's health
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MyHospitals website
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NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
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paramedics
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pharmaceutical industry
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quality and safety of health care
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social media and healthcare
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TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
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What’s needed to end violence against women and children? A wrap of the ANROWS2016 conference

What were the highlights and takeaway lessons of the recent National Research Conference on Violence against Women and Children hosted by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS)?

This post, which starts to wrap up Croakey’s coverage of #ANROWS2016, includes reflections from some participants and presenters (who we thank for taking the time), Twitter responses to the final session on priorities ahead, and other conference pix. Here was the early wake up call.

let that sink in

wrap standout me

Highlights and reflections

  1. What is your main takeaway/reflection from the conference?

Adele Murdolo, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
The conference confirmed the power of research to transform understanding about violence against women and their children. The more we know, the more effectively we can respond and prevent. The work of ANROWS is indispensable in that process and it was great to find out that their funding was confirmed for the life of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

Tallying up what we know also confirms where our gaps are, and we still have many gaps in relation to understanding violence against those very women who are most vulnerable, including women with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) women, women from immigrant and refugee communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. There were some transformative presentations at the conference about these issues, but they were still siloed off into specific sessions.

We are yet to graduate to an integrated and intersectional approach where, as well as conducting specialised and specific research on particular cohorts, we are also integrating our research to include a broad cross-section of women and their issues. The idea that there is no generic woman, and that we need to change our frameworks so that the margins are brought to the centre, is yet to be integrated throughout our research methodologies. Such thinking would make us consider a range of new issues, such as how our family violence and child protection systems impact on women in their diversity, and differentially, or how media representations of women vary depending on whether the woman being represented is white, urban and middle class, or whether she is Aboriginal and living in a remote community. I’m looking forward to seeing questions like these being considered in the next phase of ANROWS research, throughout the whole research program.

Georgina Sutherland, Melbourne University, and conference presenter
While the conference was one of the most emotionally draining that I have attended, I took away from the conference an overwhelming sense of optimism. That significant social change is possible.

Jess Cadwallader, People with Disability Australia
That it is absolutely essential that the experiences of women with disability are included across all the work happening in the space of violence against women, not just in specialised pockets. Women with disability experience higher levels of violence, yet are routinely excluded from research, from policy development and from practice in the area of violence against women. This is often because it’s thought that there will be specialist ‘disability’ research, policy and practice, somewhere else. This betrays the ongoing difficulty that feminism has with intersectionality. Women with disability are women, and not only in as much as their experiences match up with able-bodied women.

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand
Kathy Landvogt
:

  • Family and domestic violence discourses really ‘dialoguing’ with other sectors and therefore seeing issues within a wider context, for example child protection, child rights, empowering Indigenous communities.
  • Data and its importance to discerning next steps, for example Rae Kaspiew on family-child relationships in family violence– this type of information is critically important.

Yvonne Lay:
It is an exciting time to be working in this space – there is a lot of momentum and drive from within and outside of the women’s/family and domestic violence sector. This is wonderful to see and to be a part of. Gender inequality, and the harm that this has on women and children is being woven into the general discourse. Again, it is great to be a part of this right now. However, we talk about gender equality and I wonder what are striving to make women equal to? And who is deciding this? The issue is ‘the system’ – government, institutions, corporations, legal system – all of it has been designed and continues to be set up for men, at the deliberate exclusion of women.

So without dismantling these systems, I feel like we’re doing ourselves a disservice. I would like to hear the terms ‘patriarchy’ and ‘hegemonic masculinity’ used when we talk about gender inequality, and not just when we talk about primary prevention. I fear that the neutral term of ‘gender inequality’ downplays the impacts that our patriarchal system has on the day-to-day lives of women.

Michael Salter, University of Western Sydney and conference presenter
There’s a terrific sense of momentum in the area of violence against women. I think we are all keen to ensure that gains in public awareness translate into real outcomes for women and kids. This means building the evidence base for good policy and practice. A consistent focus of conference discussions was around the complexity of working across multiple systems and institutions, from child protection to housing, welfare, family law and criminal justice. The need for coordination and shared values and goals in working with women and kids is going to be a major area of activity into the future.

Alison McDonald, Domestic Violence Victoria (DVVic)
Our team was in and out of the conference over the three days but we all found the sessions we attended really interesting and we feel that we have a much better grip on the range of research that’s currently underway. We’re going to have such a wealth of evidence in this field as the national research agenda rolls on.

The breadth of topics explored within the conference program was brilliant. The focus on Indigenous family violence in the program was particularly welcome and we heard some really useful commentary.

  1. What were the standout presentations and why?

Adele Murdolo, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
All of the presentations I attended were excellent and all sparked deep thinking and reflection, which is wonderful. But two panel presentations stood out. The power panel on the first day which invited five amazing women (journalist Sarah Ferguson facilitatating the panel of former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, Women’s Health Victoria Board Director Candy Broad, former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and former NSW Liberal leader Kerry Chikarovski) to reflect on the way that research is used in advocacy and policy change was very engaging, and helped us focus our thoughts on the practical application of research, particularly in the political context.

On the second day, the panel of accomplished and wise Aboriginal women (led by senior federal advisor Kerrie Tim, with Eileen Cummings, June Oscar AO, and Karen Nangala Woodley) was also a standout because it reminded us how important it is that we acknowledge that our research is taking place in a context of a colonised white Australia, and that white research has long been used to entrench racism and sexism in Aboriginal communities, rather than to enhance understanding and bring about transformative social change. Research must be undertaken in true partnership with Aboriginal people, and harnessed through self-advocacy to empower and liberate.

Georgina Sutherland, Melbourne University, and conference presenter
Indig dust of bonesThere were lots of standout presentations, but there are two that standout in my mind. The first was the plenary session on Wednesday afternoon: the Indigenous communities addressing domestic and family violence panel. Strong, passionate, courageous and wise female leaders. Started with a beautiful acknowledgement “The dust of the bones of Aboriginal and white ancestors now shape the ground on which we stand.” And the second was the presentation by Dr Cathy Vaughan speaking about the ASPIRE project on community-led responses to violence against immigrant and refugee women.

Jess Cadwallader, People with Disability Australiawrap photo patsie

There were many excellent presentations of really innovative and insightful research. Many are in the early stages of their projects, but already demonstrating important findings. The joint presentation by Dr Patsie Frawley (Chief Investigator) and Jane Rosengrave (Consultative Research Group member and an Aboriginal woman with disability) on the ANROWS-funded ‘What does it take? Developing informed and effective tertiary responses to violence and abuse for women and girls with disabilities in Australia’ was standout for me. It modelled the inclusive design of the research project, including a woman with disability in the presentation. If we are serious about Knowledge Translation and Exchange, it’s not just service practitioners we need to include in research design and implementation, but also women and survivor-advocates.

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand

Kathy Landvogt:

  • Research to Policy Panel was brilliant because of the huge experience and tiny egos on show form those remarkable women in political and policy life. And Sarah Ferguson’s standout facilitation. Real skill, not for amateurs.
  • Cathy Humphreys on the PATRICIA Project – because she tackled key questions honestly and with open curiosity, and not just the obvious themes (child protection and family violence) but the process issues of institutional collaboration.
  • Indigenous women’s sessions were very enlightening, challenging us to think and act differently if we are not to replicate oppression- not just at policy level (for example, get rid of Basics Card) but also at family violence practice end (include men).

Yvonne Lay:
Dr. Michael Salter on men and boys violence prevention research – the insights he offered were refreshing. The women’s sector have long been arguing and advocating for tailored responses to the needs of victims/survivors. And rightly so. It is then no surprise that a one-size-fits all won’t work for men either. Dr. Salter offered a number of things for me to think about in relation to how we frame prevention, and what we can do differently to positively and genuinely engage men in a manner that resonates with them. Dr Salter calls for national standards for primary prevention programs – I agree that this is critical in ensuring that how we engage men, and what we engage them with reflects best practice.

Dr Michael Salter, University of Western Sydney and conference presenter
wrap spearThe panel facilitated by journalist Sarah Ferguson with prominent leaders in the field of violence against women, including Anna Bligh, Candy Broad, Kerry Chikarovski and Liz Broderick, provided some unique insights into the role of effective advocacy in changing public policy. The women on the panel discussed in straightforward terms what it has taken to get violence against women on the agenda of policy makers and the mass media. It was encouraging to hear from Anna Bligh about the power of cut-through statistics (“killer facts”) and targeted messages (“sharp spears”) in changing government policy.

June Oscar provided a valuable perspective on bridging Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal worldviews in order to bring about positive change for Aboriginal people. Her description of Australian policies as a form of traumatic perpetration pulled into focus the harms of top-down, disempowering interventions. She also proposed a number of potential solutions, including the need for meaningful linkages and partnerships with Aboriginal communities that reflect Aboriginal frameworks of understanding and sources of knowledge, as well as place-based strategies and community-controlled organisations that draw on local expertise. It was quite inspiring to hear about her role in mobilising Aboriginal women to reduce alcohol-related harm in her local area, which has been met with stiff resistance from the alcohol lobby.

Alison McDonald, Domestic Violence Victoria (DVVic)
The sessions on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family violence were really excellent, as was the presentation by Patsie Frawley and Joan Rosengrove on working with women and girls with disabilities – incredibly important on process.

Philomena Horsley’s presentation on LGBTI women was very interesting and showed a dire need for comprehensive research on this area. Initial studies show that LBT women have equal or higher rates of violence against them and that we need to better understand the links between homophobia and gender inequality (a presenter implied that they are distinct and don’t fit the gender inequality causes for violence but I wouldn’t necessarily agree). Would be great to see ANROWS make this a key research area for their next round.

Cathy Vaughan on the ASPIRE project was excellent on issues for refugee and immigrant women.

  1. Any standout quotes, evidence, or tweets?

 Adele Murdolo, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health

  highlights vaughan dvvichighlights salter caldHighlights vaughan immigration

Georgina Sutherland, Melbourne University, and conference presenter
One of the most repeated and tweeted (perhaps) quote was from Anna Bligh in reference to throwing “one sharp spear”  in order to get the message onto the political agenda. The most powerful quote was from Cathy Vaughan and I can’t recall it exactly but the message was that when our migration policies tie women’s visa status to their husband, we make them vulnerable to violence.

 highlights salter visa

Jess Cadwallader, People with Disability Australia
I especially enjoyed being challenged by Dr Victoria Hovane’s observation, which I summarised in a tweet as:

‘You might see gender inequality as the root of all violence, but we see something different: Colonisation’.

It is very powerful, this sense for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that the idea of carving ‘violence against women’ off from the rest of the community’s experiences of violence makes no sense.

It also raises questions about how the National Plan thinks about violence, and violence against women. This kind of conceptual research is essential, especially in ensuring that policy and practice truly address the issue. Limiting the definition of violence against women to domestic and family violence, and sexual violence, as the National Plan does, fails to grapple with the full intersectional complexity of the issue and all the drivers of violence.

Croakey’s Marie McInerney, watching Dr Patsie Frawley on a video interview, tweeted: “Dr Patsie Frawley says we would expect to hear how everybody’s #vaw research is intersecting with disability. But we’re not! #ANROWS2016”. I don’t think I need to add anything to that!

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand

Kathy Landvogt:

Some @GoodAdvocacy tweets:

A personal favourite that tackled tricky issue of researching children:

Silencing children doesn’t protect them. They need conversations to have agency and we need their knowledge.

Some others:

If we want change we have to influence men, with stories plus data, because they hold most of power says @LizBroderick

How to cut through to politics to impact on policy? Focus, persevere, ‘throw one sharp spear’ says former premier Anna Bligh

Another incisive question from @FergusonNews -What’s the way forward when there’s now a plethora of #VAW voices? Focus on quality

Practitioners and community orgs may have the next set of solutions- best ideas don’t always come from govt says Anna Bligh

And finally:

Its unanimous from this panel: Basics and Welfare Cards are demeaning, simplistic & doomed to fail in their current form

Michael Salter, University of Western Sydney and conference presenter

asbestosfix the system

Liz Broderick really stirred the room when she said that we have to stop trying to change women in order to fit them into the system, but instead we have to fix the system that excludes them. Her description of gender inequality as “gender asbestos” that invisibly lines the walls, floors and ceilings of many workplaces was evocative.

There was a tremendous amount of respect paid to the contribution of 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty by a number of speakers. As Kerry Chikarovski said, we cannot underestimate the impact of Rosie on public awareness and government interest in addressing violence against women. Rosie spoke to us at the conference dinner, and it was a deeply personal and affecting address. It’ll be fascinating to see what she does next.

Alison McDonald, Domestic Violence Victoria (DVVic)
Annie Blatchford’s coverage at Croakey (and via @annieblatch) was excellent – really timely. Michael Salter (@mike_salter)  is very worth following too. (The Age‘s) Miki Perkin’s coverage, while she was there, was great – and her quoting Elizabeth Broderick on the first day panel was great. Adele Murdolo (@AdeleMurdolo) is always a good to follow and had some perspicacious tweets.

  1. Will you change the way you work as a result of the conference?

Adele Murdolo, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
The conference provided a great opportunity to network with other researchers across the violence against women field, and I will follow up with new people and read more of the work that has been done. I will also use the new knowledge I gained about the impact of family violence on children, and incorporate that more into my own work.

Georgina Sutherland, Melbourne University, and conference presenter
I will certainly seek people out who I meet at the conference to collaborate with. An amazing, eclectic mix of front line workers, policy makers across all levels of government, new and emerging researchers and those who have been slogging away in this area for many many years. Everyone adds a valuable and important perspective.

Jess Cadwallader, People with Disability Australia
Yes. It has emphasised for me that intersectionality is essential. It’s so important to ensure that women with disability are centred in research in this space, because research leads to policy development. Without the research being inclusive of women with disability, the policy and practice outcomes will not be positive for those women. Women with disability represented 36 per cent of all women experiencing personal violence in 2011-12, so this is essential for the whole community in addressing violence against women.

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand

Kathy Landvogt:

  • Research will be better because it will be contextualised on a broader canvas and we can see better where the gaps are in knowledge.
  • Networking – many fruitful conversations – the range of people across states and federal, and across sectors, universities, government: very useful to conceptualising future projects and to creating new partnerships.

Yvonne Lay:
Drawing on Dr. Salter’s presentation again, I am much more cognisant of the need for intersectional theory to guide and structure the way I work, and think about primary prevention/intervention strategies in general.

Michael Salter, University of Western Sydney and conference presenter
I have an increased appreciation for the complexity of the systems that are involved in the response to violence against women, and the ways in which those systems sometimes entangle and entrap (rather than support) women and kids. Looking for coordination mechanisms and ways of complementing activity across multiple sectors is going to be key.

Alison McDonald, Domestic Violence Victoria (DVVic)
Yes, in relation to approaching violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I also feel a lot more confident re who to talk to about what bits of emerging evidence.

  1. Any reflections for future conferences?

Adele Murdolo, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
I would love to attend more such conferences. I would particularly like to see at future conferences an integrated approach to all violence against women and children research – that considers the layers of intersectional identity and structural oppression that combine to define women’s experiences of violence.

Jess Cadwallader, People with Disability Australia
In line with my observations above, I hope to see that all the research projects consider how the experiences of violence that women with disability intersect with their research. Do Safe at Home programs matter more if you have accessibility modifications made to your current home? Does Child Protection put women with disability and their kids at higher risk of violence because women with disability so frequently lose custody and so don’t want to risk reporting?

I would also like to see more conversations with researchers and others working in this area, including those outside the current ANROWS stable. There is a lot of excellent research happening at the moment around issues of violence against women. It’s wonderful to hear about ANROWS-funded research but, in setting policy agendas, we should all be able to work with the best possible evidence we can access. Just one example is the recently published “Prevalence and risk of violence against people with and without disabilities: findings from an Australian population-based study” by Lauren Krnjacki et al, which found that women with disability experienced significantly higher levels of violence than other women.

And finally, I’d like to see some robust acknowledgement that many people described as ‘practitioners’ and ‘from organisations’ have substantial research experience and expertise, which should be included, recognised and honoured. The gasp that went through the room when Professor Cathy Humphreys mentioned offering honorariums to their associates was amusing, and telling. Organisations will often offer expertise ‘in-kind’ because they want to support the research and are committed to the outcomes. But this is getting harder in a climate of reduced funding for peaks, services and other organisations. They must be understood as valued partners, and compensated for their time and expertise.

Kathy Landvogt, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand

  • The ‘dialogic approach’ that was the stated goal for some of the key speaker sessions was well-intentioned but didn’t create anything markedly different – I don’t think it was dialogic most of the time. The exception was the actual panels.
  • Booking in was clunky, especially as had to decide workshops and then this turned out to be not important.

Michael Salter, University of Western Sydney and conference presenter
I’d like to see a stronger focus on sexual violence in the future. Recent discussions and policy reforms in the area of violence against women have been mostly targeted towards intimate partner violence. Although there are overlaps, sexual violence has specific dynamics and impacts that need further research and elaboration. In particular, the linkages between child sexual abuse and victimisation or perpetration in adulthood, and the complex mental health implications of chronic sexual victimisation, have major policy and practice implications that we need to come to grips with so we can find and implement solutions.

Alison McDonald, Domestic Violence Victoria (DVVic)
Look forward to future conferences where research findings will be able to be reported on, as this conference was more focussed on methodology and preliminary findings due to where projects were up to in the research cycle.

[divide style=”dots” width=”medium”]

Where to now: Future directions

The final session, hosted by the ANROWS board, looked at influencing the third stage the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022. Here were some of the room’s thoughts and reactions via Twitter.

wrap future 1aawrap future 5wrap future 3wrap future 6 wrap future stateswrap future cohort studieswrap future local govt

Final notes from Annie Blatchford:

A message from Board member Kay Bentham was that the key to the next action plan was to try and cover enough without covering everything to ensure meaningful actions and results that will take us forward. She said key areas that will be built on including disability, children, sexual violence and the legal system.

ANROWS CEO Heather Nancarrow’s final comment was about making sure we recognise the importance of place both in a mainstream sense and in terms of Aboriginal culture – that is, land, law and country and what that connection means to Aboriginal people. She said, “We need to get better at listening and hearing.”

And some hints…..

wrap future bipartisanwrap future trawl

A taste of the space

wrap pavlovawrap yarning

 

And thanks from inside and outside the roomwrap thanks 2wrap thanks 3

wrap thankswrap thanks 6wrap thanks 4wrap thanks 5

Track Croakey’s coverage of #ANROWS2016 here. More to come.

Thanks from Croakey to Olivia Blackburn for use of official photos, ANROWS Jessica Gregory for ongoing editorial support, White Ribbon Australia acting CEO Jessica Luter for the tweet that is our feature image on this post, and all presenters, participants, and tweeps who have contributed to coverage of the conference by the Croakey Conference News Service.

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