(NT) Governments unite to launch national research body aimed at improving women’s safety

Friday, 16th May 2014

A national research organisation funded jointly by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments has been launched today to undertake research aimed at addressing the high rates of domestic, family and sexual violence against women and their children and improving outcomes for victims. 

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) was established in 2013. It is the first of its kind in Australia and was officially launched at Parliament House, Canberra by Federal Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews and Federal Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women Michaela Cash. They were joined by state and territory ministers from across Australia, and by representatives from the services sector, women’s organisations and researchers.

The establishment of ANROWS delivers on a key commitment under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

Research over the past seven years shows violence against women remains alarmingly high. The Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey 2012 found one in five (19%) Australian women had been subjected to sexual violence, and one in six (17%) had experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner. 

The survey found no reduction in the rates of women who reported partner violence between the 2005 ABS Personal Safety Survey and that undertaken in 2012, despite numerous programs and initiatives aimed at addressing the issue.

Northern Territory crime statistics show that from March 2013 to February 2014 inclusive, 62% of assaults were associated with domestic violence. In addition there were 354 sexual assault offences.

Today’s launch also marked the announcement of the National Research Agenda to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, addressing the four key areas of experience and impacts of violence against women, gender inequality and prevention, effectiveness of service responses and interventions, and the impact of systems (see below for summary). The National Research Agenda was produced by ANROWS on behalf of the Australian governments to develop a cohesive and comprehensive national evidence base to support the National Plan.

ANROWS will undertake a program of research under the National Research Agenda, with the ANROWS Research Priorities for 2014-15 also announced at today’s launch. ANROWS will work with governments and non-government agencies, researchers, and practitioners to undertake high quality research that aims to influence policy, service provision and professional practice. Applications are now open for ANROWS research grants in priority areas. 

Minister Price said the Northern Territory Government united with the Commonwealth and other state and territory governments because of the need for a national response to the issue.

“We need to stop the cycle of violence. We need to support all victims of abuse by developing avenues for discussion, creating a wider understanding and providing assistance within their community.

“Reducing violence against women is a one of the most significant issues facing our nation and is something all Australian governments are working hard to address. It is all the more confronting because despite our best efforts, and the efforts of service providers and the research community, the rates of violence remain the same.

“It is clear that we need to understand what policies and practices work, so the actions we take to reduce violence against women are effective. The Northern Territory Government has provided funding for this new organisation to ensure there is co-ordinated approach to building a strong evidence base for how we respond in the future,” Mrs Price said.

Mrs Price said addressing the specific issues relating to violence against women in marginalised groups will be a priority for the organisation.

“Not only will the organisation focus on research that is tailored to communities at a state level, but groups which have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to violence, such as indigenous women, will be targeted. Whilst comprehensive state specific research is essential in the effort to reduce violence against women, it is important we understand what policies and services best address the needs of different groups of women in the Northern Territory,” Mrs Price said.

The Northern Territory Government is investing $15,450 a year, as a part of the total contribution from all governments of $3 million per annum over three years to enable the organisation to begin its own research projects and provide funding for other researchers. The Commonwealth has also invested an additional $1 million per annum over three years to support specific research on interventions with perpetrators of violence against women.  The investment in ANROWS is a part of the $170 million National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

ANROWS Chair Emeritus Professor Anne Edwards said the creation of this research organisation marks a turning point in how we respond to reducing violence against women.

“The organisation is unique in Australia as it aims to combine the capabilities and views of the many groups involved in working to reduce violence against women and their children across the country, ensuring a comprehensive and relevant body of research is undertaken.  It will have a significant national and international leadership role in research on violence against women,” Professor Edwards said. 

ANROWS CEO, Heather Nancarrow, said improving outcomes for women will be a priority for the organisation.

“We’ll go beyond identifying what works, with the research assessing what works best and for whom. For example, a high security refuge may be important for many women escaping domestic and family violence, but for others it may be preferable to investigate how they can stay safely in the family home,” Ms Nancarrow said.

More information about the National Research Agenda, grant applications and ANROWS’ research priorities is available at anrows.org.au.