Gender based violence and health across the life course program

Program Lead: Professor Deborah Loxton

This strategic theme generates new knowledge about the health impact of gender based violence (GBV) across the life course. Prevention of GBV is a key priority of UNFPA and of the UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5. Yet even if goals to eliminate gender based violence were met today, there would remain a significant proportion of women and girls who had already experienced abuse and violence. The goal of this RCGHA program is to understand the health and health service use impact of GBV across the life course and to identify those factors that assist or deter recovery from these experiences.

Three research platforms are utilised to meet this goal:

  1. Existing and newly collected quantitative survey and administrative data will be analysed to determine the scope of different types of abuse and the impact of these on health and health service use.
  2. Qualitative and quantitative investigations will be conducted to develop our understanding of the factors that exacerbate the detrimental impact of abuse and those that promote healing.
  3. Effective methods of translating research findings into policy and practice initiatives will be developed and evaluated.

To date, the majority of analyses have involved data collected by the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). ALSWH data have revealed links between abuse and health at all stages of life. Adversity in childhood is strongly linked with the presence of adverse health behaviours and less than optimal levels of healthy behaviours. Bullying in adolescence and early adulthood shows similar results for health behaviour and, further, bullying has strong links with psychological distress and suicidal ideation. Domestic (or intimate partner) violence has a significant detrimental impact on mental and physical health that can last decades. In older age, the impact of abuse has been linked with earlier death and disability. Ongoing work in this program that uses ALSWH data will explore the healthcare costs and long-term impact of childhood adversity, establish the course of health before and after domestic violence is experienced, and identify factors that might support recovery from domestic violence, and the cumulative impact of different types of abuse experienced at different stages of the life course.

PhD Research

Name: Addisu Shunu Beyene

Supervisors: Prof Deborah Loxton and Dr Catherine Chojenta


Gender-based violence is ubiquitous around world particularly in school setting. This research will be conducted among school youths in Ethiopia. The main objective of this research is to determine prevalence, risk factors and consequences of gender-based violence among school youths in Ethiopia by using cross-sectional study design. The study will utilize the multi-stage sampling technique to select the eligible participants.

Name: Tenaw Yimer Tiruye

Supervisors: Prof Deb Loxton, Dr Catherine Chojenta, Dr Melissa Harris and A/Prof Liz Holliday


The aim of this study is to identify the determinants, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) and to explore perceptions of IPV in the health sector, arguably the most likely place that a woman may seek help. It is proposed to identify the hierarchical multi-level determinants of IPV from individual to societal levels. The effect of IPV on selected MCH outcomes, which are major public health problems in Ethiopia, will also be determined. The maternal health outcomes to be assessed will be pregnancy loss, maternal anaemia, and obstetric fistulae, while the child health outcomes will be neonatal mortality and child undernutrition. In addition, it is aimed to explore the perceptions of health care workers and health managers about IPV. The results will inform policy makers, organizations, and stakeholders working on women and child health in general and IPV against women in particular in Ethiopia. Findings will also help health-care providers to be informed and aware of the possibility of IPV as an underlying factor in women and children’s ill health. The study might also provide evidence for the need to integrate IPV interventions in the existing MCH programs and provide the information that will help to facilitate this.

Name: Abdulbasit Musa Seid

Supervisors: Prof Deborah Loxton and Dr Catherine Chojenta


The overall aim of the research is to assess determinants of intimate partner violence during pregnancy, and its effect on adverse pregnancy outcomes including postnatal maternal mental health. It will investigate the factors that contribute to partner violence during pregnancy, whether partner violence has an association with adverse pregnancy outcomes (both for mother and fetus) and postnatal mental health (specifically postnatal depression and anxiety). The study participants will be women who gave birth at public hospitals in Harari region, east Ethiopia. Participants will be asked about their exposure to intimate partner violence, socio-demographic factors, social-relationship factors, marital, sexual and behavioural factors, reproductive history, adverse childhood experiences, and their mental health status. Consent will be obtained to access participants medical records in order to ascertain information related to adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Name: Dr Tanmay Subhash Bagade

Supervisors: Dr Catherine Chojenta, Dr Melissa Harris, Prof Deborah Loxton


The aim of the research is to understand and analyse the association of gender development markers and contraception on maternal and child mortality globally.

Name: Karen E Beattie

Supervisors: Professor Deborah Loxton, Associate Professor Kym Rae, Dr Nicole Reilly


The differences in health and well-being outcomes for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians across the lifespan are well-documented, complex and multi-faceted, with Aboriginal women recognised to be at higher risk than non-Aboriginal women during the perinatal and early childhood periods. Maternal health during the perinatal and the early childhood periods significantly influences both the short and long term health and well-being outcomes for the woman, her infant, family and community. During this time health professionals are expected and in some instances mandated to undertake health screening or conversations with women including psycho-social, mental health, substance use including alcohol, and domestic violence assessments; with health professionals reporting feeling challenged, unprepared, untrained and ill equipped to have these conversations with women. There is little literature which specifically reflects and addresses Aboriginal women’s voices, views, needs, and experiences of these health screening conversations, or those health professionals who work with Aboriginal women. Findings from this research will be used to inform best practice and policy development, strengthening health system knowledge and capacity in the provision of culturally safe and responsive perinatal and early childhood health care, and improve health outcomes for Aboriginal women, children and families.