Micheal Woods
Senior Lecturer
University of Western Sydney
The domestic violence industry in Australia is a multi-million dollar enterprise, ostensibly
designed to ensure that women live free of violence. However, it seems that some sections of
this industry such as the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) are engaging in the use of
dishonesty to further the interests of organisational growth rather than contribute to
addressing a social problem. While questions of probity are important where substantial
amounts of government funds are involved, the dishonesty being practiced is also contrary to
the interests of those women the industry claims to champion.
The following notes some of the most glaring instances of false and misleading claims in the
current campaigns on violence against women. Secondly, some data is provided from the
recently released Personal Safety Survey (2005), which could be described as the “gold
standard” of research on interpersonal violence in Australia. The PSS data shows that levels
of violence against women are nowhere near the magnitude so often cited, and suggests that
the simplistic causal models championed by some parts of the DV industry need to be
replaced with more comprehensive models that take into account the significant factors of
alcohol abuse, mental illness and social deprivation & disadvantage. Similarly, the emphasis
on partners as the main source of violence is unwarranted – women experience significant
levels of violence from male & female strangers, and other family members and
acquaintances, both male and female.
The International Violence Against Women Survey (2004)
The major national campaign sponsored by the Federal government – and influential member
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