Together we UNiTE to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Gender Equality – through the lens of our health care workers and community partners.

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Libby Jewson

Executive Officer, WRISC

What is your role?
Executive Officer WRISC Family Violence Support Inc.

How does family violence impact the health of women and children?

At WRISC we work from an empowerment framework that enables women to work at their own pace when experiencing family violence, where health fits into this depends on each individual.


We recognise that family violence has profound impact on women’s health. It alters their focus so that often times they can’t focus on their health, or they may lose the motivation to remain ‘healthy’. It affects their self-esteem and their self-confidence, they may find it hard to access health services due to the effects of power and control of their partner.


Family violence impacts on health when it incorporates physical harm , sexual assault, psychological harm from living in fear, restricted access to supports and services ( including medical care when required),  and living with 'gaslighting'. As already mentioned an impact on nutrition when finances and restrictions to money are concerned, impact on dental health due to limited finances, physical harm(facial injuries) or restriction of access to services, loss of control over reproductive choices, and an impact on women with disabilities where restriction to health and support services is prevented or restricted. 


Family violence has significant impacts on the physical, social and emotional health and wellbeing of children. Trauma impacts a child’s brain development from as early as in utero and can present differently in each child. Children may act out, or become introverted or fail to thrive as result of trauma caused by family violence.

How do you think COVID19 has impacted gender equality and family violence?

Women and children have had less freedoms, and less opportunity to seek help due to this lack of freedom. There is more unemployment, and seems to be a risk of a return to more gender stereotyping roles within family structures

How do gender stereotypes drive violence against women?

Because of the lack of freedoms and the impact of men and women spending more time together, the risk of women slipping into the gendered roles is greater. This could also be demanded by the male partner if there is coercive control happening.


When there is personal and social threat to people, regression to previous behaviour can happen.

What does it mean to you to be an ‘active bystander’ in healthcare?

  • Being alert to red flags in relationships such as changes in behaviour, reduction in freedoms.

  • Supporting women that may be of risk of family violence as long as they are safe.

  • Calling out disrespectful behaviour.


Reducing expectation that are more gender stereotypical and encouraging respectful relationships and conversations.

What do you think the barriers are for women and children from diverse backgrounds seeking help when experiencing family violence?

  • Gendered stereotypes in the countries where the families are from.

  • Lack of trust with services and agencies in Australia

  • Lack of language and interpretive services may not be completely confidential

  • Financial restraints mean that women and children can be very dependent on the male income earner

  • Lack of trusted relationships in the new country

Can you provide a statement to our community about your stance on gender equality and family violence?

At WRISC we believe that everyone has the right to be safe, to be treated equally and to have the same access to opportunities as everyone else. We know that violence of any kind denies people these rights and attacks their dignity and self-respect.