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19 November 2021

Had enough of gender-based violence and discrimination? Let’s do something about it

In Australia, we’re now talking more openly and regularly about violence against women, but the facts are sobering.

Family violence is the leading cause of homelessness, ill health and premature death for Victorian women. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased gender inequality and family violence. Restrictions on social movement and gatherings, more people working and studying at home, and limited access to support services has contributed to an increase in coercive and controlling behaviours.

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Female uni students are at particular risk 

Deakin student Laura Zark, who’s doing her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, recently led the first study into family violence experienced by Australian female tertiary students (currently being peer-reviewed). The results are startling – 74% reported experiencing violence from a partner and 60% reported experiencing violence perpetrated by a family member. The types of violence included physical, sexual, emotional and financial.

Laura says that uni students face unique risks and challenges when it comes to family violence:

They may have higher risk profiles due to young age, unemployment, financial insecurity and/or financial dependence on perpetrators, exposure to sexist peer cultures and norms, and violence-supportive attitudes, which may be shaped and reinforced by popular media.

Laura adds that these risks are compounded for students from culturally diverse communities, who may face additional risks such as social disadvantage and isolation; temporary visa status; and less familiarity with the English language, Australian law, their legal rights and support services.

There can be profound negative effects on survivors’ physical and mental health and wellbeing. For students, ‘victimisation can also have serious academic impacts, including poor academic engagement and performance,’ Laura says.

Will you help us ‘Orange the world’?

#OrangeTheWorldIf these facts make you feel angry, sad, helpless or frustrated, then you need to know that Thursday 25 November is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

It’s also day one of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign that runs until Human Rights Day on Friday 10 December. The dates were chosen to highlight that gender-based violence is a violation of women’s human rights.

The theme of the 2021 campaign is ‘Orange the world’. The colour orange represents gender equality and demonstrates our commitment to create a brighter future where all women and girls are free from violence.

As a university community, we must stand together against violence, and challenge expressions of gender inequality that allow and reinforce gender-based violence.

According to Our Watch, we can all help by:

Do you need support?

If you’ve experienced gender-based violence, or would like help or advice, please reach out. There’s a range of Deakin and community-based support services available.

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