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Mental Health, Women

Experts available to discuss violence against women

La Trobe University 4 mins read

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called an urgent national cabinet meeting tomorrow to discuss violence against women.

In the 2022-2023 financial year almost half of the women killed in Australia were killed by their former or current intimate partner. This year, one woman is being killed every four days. Another died today.

La Trobe University experts are available to discuss gender-based violence in Australia and globally, and the effective interventions to prevent and reduce the effects of sexual and gender-based violence, especially those that can be delivered in primary health care, community settings, and the legal system.

Dr Emma Russell, Australian Research Council researcher and Senior Lecturer in Crime, Justice and Legal Studies at La Trobe University

Dr Russell researches bail and remand practices and their impacts on socially disadvantaged groups, especially women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people experiencing housing precarity.

Contact: 0487 448 734

Dr Russell can discuss the following topics:

  • Bail law reform
  • Impacts of bail refusal
  • Bail and gender, racial and social inequality

The following can be attributed to Dr Russell:

“We need to break the cycle of politicians using bail reform to appear ‘tough on crime’ in the aftermath of high-profile instances of extreme violence. Past bail changes in states like Victoria have led to unprecedented rates of remand imprisonment, especially for women experiencing homelessness – frequently because of domestic and family violence – and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Remand has many negative consequences for individuals and society more broadly. Even a short period in prison on remand can result in deteriorating health conditions, traumatisation, eviction, child removal, and more. It also increases the likelihood of someone returning to prison in future.

“Increased imprisonment and inequality are the inevitable outcomes of tightening bail laws, not less violence.

“Instead of costly cycles of incarceration, governments should be investing in safe and affordable housing and community-based support systems.”

Dr Kirsty Duncanson, Senior Lecturer Crime, Justice and Legal Studies at La Trobe School of Social Inquiry

Dr Duncanson has extensive experience working with community legal centres investigating Family Violence Intervention Order application processes. Her major research explores influences on jury decision-making in rape trials, jury direction, courtroom design, and the operation of rape myths.

Contact: 0425 729 460

Dr Duncanson can discuss the following topics:

  • Family/Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence and Family Violence Intervention Orders
  • Sexual Violence
  • Rape trial process including jury directions and the operation of rape myths
  • Courtroom design and the architecture of court buildings
  • Pop cultural representations of law

The following can be attributed to Dr Duncanson:

“It is terrific to hear the prime minister acknowledge the need for significant action now to address violence against women. However, caution must be taken against making hasty decisions to change bail laws.

“Tightening bail laws in the past has led to extraordinary increases in women's imprisonment. The research demonstrates that changes to police responses to domestic violence are essential. Clearer processes for intervention orders are needed, as well as comprehensive wrap-around services for perpetrators as well as victims.

“We need better funding for Aboriginal designed and delivered services, more comprehensive and community-led support for culturally and linguistically diverse victims and survivors, and greater recognition and understanding of gender-based violence perpetrated against LGBTQ people.”


Emeritus Professor Angela Taft, Office of Nursing and Midwifery and former Director of the Judith Lumley Centre at La Trobe

Over the last 20 years, Professor Taft has led a major competitively funded program of research on intimate partner/gender-based violence. This has included analysing the impact of partner violence and sexual and reproductive health over time. Professor Taft’s research is informed by human rights, social justice and equity, with research interests in improving women’s health, primary care and prevention/reduction of violence in migrant and refugee communities and in the Asia-Pacific.

Contact: 0413 486 213

Professor Taft can discuss the following topics:

  • Building better health system responses to violence against women (and children)
  • Implications of our diverse society and the need for culturally safe responses to violence against women in migrant and refugee communities
  • Evidence for what influences our rates of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies and abortions and how better to reduce these
  • Making our public health transport system safer for women and girls

Dr Jess Ison Researcher at the Reducing Gender-based violence research group (ReGEN) at the La Trobe Rural Health School.

Contact: 0481 880 596


Dr Ison can discuss the following topics:

  • Prevention of gender-based violence
  • Sexual violence prevalence, response, and prevention
  • LGBTQ+ family violence
  • Primary prevention
  • The criminal justice system response
  • Rural experiences of family violence

The following can be attributed to Dr Ison:


"We must keep sexual violence and harassment on the agenda. Sexual violence and harassment can be perpetrated by a partner or by friends, acquaintances, and strangers. It is also a threat that can be felt across all parts of a woman's life. Sexual violence and harassment must be considered in all prevention and response efforts."

Dr Emma Henderson Senior Lecturer at La Trobe University Law School

Dr Henderson researches and teaches in the areas of criminal law, international human rights law, law reform, and critical legal theory. Her recent research has involved a project examining women's agency in domestic violence intervention orders.

Contact:  0487 448 734

Dr Henderson can discuss the following topics:

  • Sexual offence law, especially within Victoria
  • Rape trial processes, including jury directions and the operation of rape myths
  • Law reform processes generally
  • Human rights law including the rights of women and indigenous peoples
  • Domestic violence, including family violence intervention orders
  • Courtroom design and court building architecture

The following can be attributed to Dr Henderson: 

“It is good news that the federal government has announced the deadly epidemic of violence against women should be considered a national emergency.

“The National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children states that it aims to end gendered violence within a generation, but its design continues to push solutions down the track and 14 years after the first plan was published, it seems that the same mistakes are being repeated. 

“The plan does not create clear action points, does not specify who is accountable for achieving the goals, nor who will fund the work which must be done.

“Australia needs a comprehensive national whole-of-government approach to gendered violence, simultaneous focuses on education, prevention, protection and recovery, and crucially, a plan which listens to and acts on the voices, experiences and expertise of victim/survivors and their communities.”



Contact details:

Elaine Cooney
0487 448 734

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