A history of the Victorian women's domestic violence services movement, 1974-2005

Theobald, J 2011, A history of the Victorian women's domestic violence services movement, 1974-2005, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title A history of the Victorian women's domestic violence services movement, 1974-2005
Author(s) Theobald, J
Year 2011
Abstract This thesis analyses the history of the Victorian women’s domestic violence services movement from 1974 through to a period of significant change in 2005. Whilst services provided accommodation to women and children in crisis, the refuge movement of the 1970s made explicit the link between what became known as domestic violence and the need for refuge. In a climate of international and national activism, and as a result of resolute advocacy and creative political campaigning, members of the movement made public what had otherwise been considered a private issue, and identified the ‘intolerable circumstances’ facing women in their intimate relationships as a reason for large numbers of women and children seeking emergency accommodation. Despite the tremendous gains made by the domestic violence services movement in both service development and social policy concerning domestic violence, there has been no comprehensive study of any state-based refuge movements in Australia. The primary aim of the thesis is, therefore, to document and historicise the refuge movement in Victoria in its social and political context. In doing so, it contributes to the task of recording the movement’s unequivocally political nature.

One of the principal objectives of this dissertation is to investigate the ideologies and actions of the women involved and make evident the influence of feminism and the contributions of community sector women’s organisations to service delivery, social policy and legislation concerning domestic violence. In doing so, the thesis also considers the ways that diverse organisations have worked together to achieve social change. As a result of the domestic violence services movement’s political activism and advocacy, domestic violence is now widely and publicly denounced, and this project is significant because it documents the strategies that were adopted in order to achieve this goal.

The thesis also investigates the relationship between the movement and external institutions. In particular, it considers the movement’s shifting, and at times productive as well as problematic, relationship with state institutions. By extension, it analyses the historical development of public policy as well as the current policy and organisational context relating to the domestic and family violence service sector.

This dissertation then, illuminates how the refuge movement in Victoria emerged, how members organised and worked towards achieving their goals, made sense of their experiences and dealt with the obstacles they encountered whilst undertaking action to create change for women. It also acknowledges that the history of the refuge movement is not a seamless one of ‘feminist’ success and ideas but rather a story of complex relationships, ideologies, identities and power struggles. However, the project will seek to acknowledge the diversity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the activists and community-sector women’s organisations that made it happen.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global Studies, Social Science and Planning
Keyword(s) domestic violence
women’s refuges
feminism
history
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Created: Tue, 10 Jan 2012, 08:07:05 EST by Guy Aron
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