Health's a difficult beast': The interrelationships between domestic violence, women's health and the health sector. An Australian case study

Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science




Fisher, C., Hunt, L., Adamsam, R., & Thurston, W. E. (2007). ‘Health's a difficult beast’: The interrelationships between domestic violence, women's health and the health sector: An Australian case study. Social science & medicine, 65(8), 1742-1750. Available here


This paper reports on the Australian component of a five nation study undertaken in Australia, Canada, Thailand, Bangladesh and Afghanistan examining policy networks that address women's health and domestic violence. It examines the relationship between health and domestic violence in Western Australia and analyses the secondary role assumed by health. The study adopted a qualitative research paradigm and semi-structured interviews. Snowball sampling was used to identify relevant and significant stakeholders and resulted in a final sample of 30 individuals representing three key areas: the ‘health policy community’, the ‘domestic violence prevention community’ and ‘other interested stakeholders’, that is, those who have an interest in, but who are not involved in, domestic violence prevention work. Results suggest that the secondary positioning of health is associated with the historical ‘championing’ of the issue in the women's movement; limited linkages between the health policy community and the domestic violence prevention community and within the health policy community itself; the ‘fit’ between domestic violence and the Western Australian Health Department mandate; and the mis-match between domestic violence and the medical model. The conclusion indicates a need for collaboration based on effective links across the domestic violence community and the health policy community.




Article Location


Link to publisher version (DOI)