Family violence: a global health issue

Family violence: a global health issue

28 Oct 2008

In Australia — with the continuation of government intervention — the focus at the moment is on family violence and abuse in Aboriginal communities.

Journal of Family Studies cover

However, research in the latest Journal of Family Studies highlights a strong association world-wide between family violence and a wide range of health problems.

A special issue of the La Trobe University-based journal featuring the latest studies into family violence will be launched this Thursday, 30 October 2008. It contains an overview of innovative approaches to the problem, and sixteen articles on research into issues surrounding family violence.

Guest editors from the La Trobe University School of Public Health, Professor Margot Schofield and Associate Professor Rae Walker, say that referral of children to statutory child protection services in Australia has more than doubled in the seven years to 2006.

They say violence against children includes neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Children are most at risk from sexual abuse from family members and caretakers. Further, many children are harmed by witnessing violence in the home.

A recent study of young Australians (between 12 and 20 years old) found that 23 per cent saw at least one episode of physical violence against their mother or stepmother. These involved throwing objects, hitting, or use of a knife or gun.

While family violence and abuse is a serious public health issue, the editors stress that the collection of studies also demonstrate the importance of 'understanding subjective experience when trying to elucidate the impact of violence'. They also consider a range of innovative preventative responses to the problem.

Journal editor-in-chief, Associate Professor Lawrie Moloney, says most of the articles focus on men as clearly defined perpetrators. 'That is perhaps as it should be. Men inflict considerably more damage on women than vice versa, though at the same time they inflict even more on each other.

'We need to keep hearing from those affected by family violence to help them, and ourselves (as researchers) to make sense of it and to provide programs that can heal at least some of the wounds. We also need to continue to challenge institutions and bureaucracies when they fail adult and child victims of violence and abuse.'

Titled 'Innovative Approaches to Family Violence', the journal will be launched by Professor Belinda Probert, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, at a breakfast seminar on La Trobe University's main Melbourne campus at Bundoora, from 8 to 10 am, Thursday 30 October at the John Scott Meeting House, Melway campus reference G6.

Guest speakers will be Robyn Miller (Principal Practitioner, Child Protection and Family Services Branch, Office for Children, Department of Human Services Victoria) who is completing her doctorate at La Trobe University, and Professor Alan Hayes (Director, Australian Institute of Family Studies).

The journal is published by eContent Management Pty Ltd.

Advance copies of the journal are available, embargoed until the launch.

To secure a copy, requests for interviews with the authors or further information, please contact Liz Morrison, tel: 03 9479 1746 email: L.Morrison@latrobe.edu.au.

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