People living in regional, rural and remote communities


  • Bagshaw, Dale, et al, ‘Reshaping Responses to Domestic Violence’ (Final Report, University of South Australia and Partnerships Against Domestic Violence, Commonwealth of Australia, April 2000).
    This Australian research used a variety of methods including an anonymous ‘phone-in’ and focus groups. 102 women who were victims/survivors of domestic violence participated in the phone-in, 27 callers were from rural areas. This report provides an overview of literature (pp86-87). Rural callers identified extreme isolation, entrapment and alienation, financial dependency, and safety issues as factors heightening vulnerability; additional barriers to disclosing abuse and limited access to resources were noted (pp86-89). Specific to perpetrators of domestic violence from rural areas, pp86 and 89 note that similar issues need to be considered as for victims, including confidentiality, privacy, limitations on certain interventions, and lack of availability of some services.
  • Campo, Monica and Sarah Tayton, Domestic and family violence in regional, rural and remote communities: An overview of key issues (Child Family Community Australia, Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2015).

    This paper provides a brief overview for understanding the issues unique to domestic and family violence in regional, rural and remote communities. The key messages are that:

    • ‘Women in regional, rural and remote areas are more likely than women in urban areas to experience domestic and family violence’.
    • ‘Women living in regional, rural and remote areas who experience domestic and family violence face specific issues related to their geographical location and the cultural and social characteristics of living in small communities’ (p.1). Social norms and structures in rural communities include rural masculinity, self-reliance and privacy, lack of perpetrator accountability, and complex geographical issues (pp.3-4). Geographical issues include isolation, gun ownership and natural disasters (p.5).
    • ‘There is a common view in rural communities that ‘family problems’ such as domestic and family violence are not talked about, which serves to silence women’s experience of domestic and family violence and deter them from disclosing violence and abuse’.
    • ‘Fear of stigma, shame, community gossip, and a lack of perpetrator accountability deter women from seeking help’.
    • ‘A lack of privacy due to the high likelihood that police, health professionals and domestic and family violence workers know both the victim and perpetrator can inhibit women’s willingness to use local services’.
    • ‘Women who do seek help find difficulty in accessing services due to geographical isolation, lack of transportation options and not having access to their own income’ (p.1).
  • Cunneen, Chris, ‘Alternative and Improved Responses to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland Indigenous Communities’ (Research Report, Department of Communities (QLD), 2010).

    This report addresses the issue of whether the legal system is responding adequately to domestic and family violence against Indigenous people in Queensland. The research utilised a combination of legal research, qualitative interviews and quantitative analysis. This report provides a comprehensive overview of specific issues facing Indigenous women in the context of domestic violence, and identifies a variety of barriers for Indigenous women to reporting violence and accessing protection including family and kinship issues, removal of children, and lack of community support and services (Chapter 6, from p97). Compounding effects of rurality and remoteness are referred to throughout the report.

    In relation to perpetrators of domestic and family violence, p27 notes issues around lack of alternative accommodation for either party, while p127 notes that fulfilling the responsibility to explain protection orders to the respondent may be more difficult in rural and remote areas where the respondent is less likely to be present in court, less likely to have access to services to assist with understanding the order, and more likely to experience language problems.
  • George, Amanda, and Bridget Harris, Landscapes of Violence: Women Surviving Family Violence in Regional and Rural Victoria (Centre for Rural and Regional Law and Justice, Deakin University, 2014).
    This research combines the findings of two studies undertaken by the Centre for Rural and Regional Law and Justice (CRRLJ) and explores the experiences of and outcomes for women and children survivors of family violence in regional and rural Victoria, examining their contact with and perceptions of government agencies (including the Victorian magistrates’ courts). From p46-51 the authors identify and discuss barriers facing survivors in regional and rural Victoria from seeking assistance. Barriers include geographic isolation, social isolation and their high visibility in their community. Access to services is particularly difficult for women from culturally and linguistically diverse women (p51). It notes the prevalence of guns and firearms increased women’s vulnerability (p55). Limited alternative/crisis accommodation is identified (p57). Reduced access to legal services (p59) and complex financial arrangements (eg family farm) (p60). Some of these difficulties maybe faced by Indigenous women who live in remote communities, and additionally Indigenous people may face strong family pressures (p49).
  • Henstridge, John, et al, ‘Analysis of the 2005 Personal Safety Survey’ (Analysis Report, Data Analysis Australia, June 2007).
    Prevalence rates of all types of violence, towards both women and men, were higher in major urban areas, followed by outer regional and remote areas. The lowest prevalence rates were in inner regional areas (p11).
  • Jamieson, Shirley, and Sarah Wendt, ‘Exploring Men’s Perpetrator Programs in Small Rural Communities’ (2008) 18(1) Rural Society 39.
    This research reports on a study conducted in a small rural community in South Australia in 2006. The key findings of the research were that concerns about anonymity and community attitudes, which condoned male control of female partners, would prevent men from using behaviour change programs in small rural communities, and therefore impact on their viability. The article also notes that perpetrator programs in rural communities may have been designed for metropolitan areas, thus inappropriate for men in rural towns (p40). It also points to the fact that ‘Many of the factors which may exacerbate men’s use of violence are not unique to rural men. However, the isolation, beliefs about rural masculinity which encourage stoicism and repressed emotions, and limited access to, and use of, medical and health facilities all indicate that rural men require different assistance to men from urban areas to understand and address their use of violence’ (p42).
  • Meyer S, Stambe R-M. Mothering in the Context of Violence: Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Mothers’ Experiences in Regional Settings in Australia. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. November 2020.
    Abstract: Domestic and family violence (DFV) disproportionately affects women and children in Australia and globally. On average, one in three women experiences DFV during adulthood and the majority of these women identify as mothers. The prevalence of DFV is higher for Indigenous women and their experiences disproportionately range at the more severe end of physical abuse. For women affected by DFV, mothering during and post this type of victimization is complicated by strategic entrapment, undermining of the mother–child relationship, and threats of harm directed at children and mothers. While a substantial body of literature has examined the experiences of mothers affected by DFV more broadly, research on the experiences of Indigenous mothers affected by DFV remains scarce. Research evidence is further limited when trying to understand the specific constraints experienced by mothers affected by DFV in regional settings. This article examines the experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers affected by DFV in regional Queensland, Australia. Data derived from 17 qualitative face-to-face interviews are used to explore the lived experiences of these mothers. Findings identify the immediate and long-term effects of DFV on mothers and children, including similarities and differences in women’s experiences of mothering in the context of DFV, experiences of entrapment in an abusive relationship, experiences of post-separation abuse, strategies used to mitigate its impact on children, and surviving as a female-headed single-parent household in regional settings. While mothers in this study shared a number of similar experiences, regionality, the risk of cultural disconnectedness, and socio-structural marginalization disproportionately affected Indigenous mothers in this study. Findings raise key implications for supporting mothers and children’s safety and recovery, access to safe and sustainable housing in regional towns, and the empowerment of Indigenous women to overcome the lasting effects of colonization and disproportionate experiences of disadvantage.
  • Office for Women’s Policy (NSW), ‘Discussion Paper on NSW Domestic and Family Violence Strategic Framework’(Department of Premier and Cabinet, 2008).
    This policy paper reviews relevant literature. At p10 it is noted that women living with domestic and family violence in rural or regional areas ‘experience social and physical isolation due to geographical location, transport difficulties, and unreliable or unavailable telephone services… [Their isolation], the limited availability of legal services, such as police, legal aid, and advocacy support, and domestic violence services, such as long term counselling and refuge accommodation, mean that accessing help can be challenging. In addition, when services are available they are often not used because of a variety of reasons including concerns over confidentiality.’
  • Wendt, Sarah, ‘Constructions of Local Culture and Impacts on Domestic Violence in an Australian Rural Community’ (2009) 25(2) Journal of Rural Studies 175.

    The study described in this paper explored local culture in a South Australian rural community and how it affected women's experiences of, and men's perpetration of, domestic violence. It found several local cultural discourses that influenced the issue, including self-reliance, pride, privacy, belonging and closeness, family, and Christianity. The power and influence of these discourses made it difficult to name and challenge domestic violence. This paper emphasises that rural women are not a homogenous group.

    Relevant to perpetrators, it also notes that ‘studies have found that victims and perpetrators needs are not being met due to a lack of coordination amongst services, confusion amongst service providers of who was doing what, and lack of understanding by workers of the complexities of violence and abuse’ (p176).
  • Wendt, Sarah, Donna Chung, Alison Elder, Antonia Hendrick and Angela Hartwig, Seeking help for domestic and family violence: Exploring regional, rural, and remote women’s coping experiences—Final report (ANROWS, 2017).

    This qualitative study examined the experiences of women seeking help for domestic and family violence who live in regional, rural, and remote areas in Australia. The research drew on interviews with 23 women and interviews / focus groups involving 37 managers and practitioners. Key findings of the report are summarised on pages 4 and 5 and include:

    • When they felt they could not cope alone, women experiencing violence mostly tried to seek informal help (family, friends, acquaintances);
    • Experiences of shame and embarrassment impacted help-seeking, and continued for many during the process of recovery and rebuilding;
    • Women’s descriptions of social isolation were focused on having limited social networks and supports and social resources;
    • Despite efforts to cope alone or using informal networks, all the women in the study experienced intervention by police; and
    • Having access to emergency specialist accommodation was crucial to give a safe space and an entry-point to support.
  • Wendt, Sarah, Donna Chung, Alison Elder, Lia Bryant, Seeking help for domestic violence: Exploring rural women’s coping experiences: State of knowledge paper (ANROWS, 2015).

    This report presents ‘the research and literature that examines the effects of social and geographic isolation on the ability of women to disclose, report, seek help, and receive appropriate interventions following domestic and family violence and sexual assault’ (p.2). Part I examines the extent of domestic and family violence in rural and remote Australia and shows that there are high reported rates of domestic and family violence in such areas (p.1).

    Part II looks at the nature and experience of domestic and family violence in socially and geographically isolated areas. The report notes that ‘women experience unique structural and cultural barriers that impact on their ability to disclose, report, seek help and receive appropriate services following domestic and family violence and sexual assault. Women living in socially and geographically isolated places often cope with domestic and family violence by themselves for long periods of time. Informal support plays a vital role in women’s decisions to seek formal help. Coping and help-seeking is particularly complex and nuanced for different groups of women, particularly Indigenous women, because of the impacts of colonisation and dispossession. This report outlines contextual factors that influence domestic and family violence in regional communities such as living in farming, mining, sea-change/treechange communities as well as those experiencing environmental disasters and poverty’ (p.1).

    Part III of the report provides an overview of the challenges and possibilities relating to service provision in social and geographically isolated places. It notes that there is limited research on help-seeking activities of regional, rural and remote Australian women when dealing with domestic and family violence and sexual assault. It notes social and geographic isolation are key factors to consider in service provision and understanding coping and help-seeking for regional, rural and remote communities.

    Social isolation (close-knit communities, ideas about gender roles) – can shape women’s feelings of embarrassment and wanting to remain silent, or not seeking assistance because they want to cope on their own. Geographic isolation consists ofphysical barriers e.g. long distances to travel and difficulties accessing services (p.1).


  • Edwards, Katie M, ‘Intimate Partner Violence and the Rural-Urban-Suburban Divide: Myth or Reality? A Critical Review of the Literature’ (2015) 16(3) Trauma, Violence and Abuse 359.

    The author presents a review of the published empirical and theoretical literature to date on similarities and differences in intimate partner violence (IPV) in rural locales compared to urban and suburban locales. A review of 63 studies indicates that (1) the rates of IPV are generally similar across rural, urban, and suburban locales, although some groups of rural women (e.g., multiracial and separated/divorced) may be at increased risk for IPV compared to similar groups of urban women, and rates of intimate partner homicide may be higher in rural locales than urban and suburban locales; (2) IPV perpetrator and victim characteristics in rural locales are generally similar to IPV perpetrator and victim characteristics in other locales with the exception of some demographic characteristics that can generally be accounted for by broader rural–urban–suburban demographic differences; (3) IPV perpetrators in rural locales, compared with perpetrators in urban locales, may perpetrate more chronic and severe IPV, which could be due to the higher rates of substance abuse and unemployment documented among rural perpetrators; (4) IPV victims in rural locales may have worse psychosocial and physical health outcomes due to the lack of availability, accessibility, and quality of IPV services; and (5) attitudes about IPV vary to some extent across locales, with individuals in rural locales generally supporting less governmental involvement in IPV issues than in urban locales.

    • Literature on perpetrators and risk factors for IPV perpetration in rural communities is reviewed on pp363-364, determining that there are not major differences between rural and urban perpetrators for the most part, though some studies have found rural perpetrators were more likely to engage in some forms of abuse (such as harming pets), violate protective orders and commit more severe IPV, while also being more likely to have lower employment and educational attainment.
  • Sudderth, Lori, ‘An Uneasy Alliance: Law Enforcement and Domestic Violence Victim Advocates in a Rural Area’ (2006) 1(4) Feminist Criminology 329.
    The ‘Background’ section of this article (p330-335) is relevant. Drawing on available international literature, it highlights issues for rural victims of domestic violence including restricted services (including emergency response), restricted public transportation, isolation, officers knowing the perpetrators, the operation of traditional gender expectations (resulting in financial dependence, primary child care responsibility), less anonymity and more limited law enforcement.