Health and the primary prevention of violence against women

2 Apr 2014

This position paper focuses on the primary prevention of violence perpetrated by men against women. It develops a position on primary prevention (as distinct from secondary and tertiary interventions). It also identifies examples of good practice across settings, and factors for success for primary prevention programs. The paper has been developed as a resource for public education, debate and community activities related to the primary prevention of violence against women.Intimate partner violence is prevalent, serious and preventable; it is also a crime. Among the poor health outcomes for women who experience intimate partner violence are premature death and injury, poor mental health, habits which are harmful to health such as smoking, misuse of alcohol and non-prescription drugs, use of tranquilisers, sleeping pills and anti-depressants. 

The cost of violence against women to individuals, communities and the whole of society is staggering and unacceptable. Every week in Australia at least one woman is killed by her current or former partner, and since the age of 15, one in three women has experienced physical violence and one in five has experienced sexual violence. The annual financial cost to the community of violence against women was calculated by Access Economics in 2002/3 to be $8.1 billion (Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, 2004), a figure which is likely to increase unless the incidence of violence against women can be reduced and ultimately eliminated. 

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