WORK is underway to fill a gap in knowledge about preventing sexual violence in rural and regional communities.
The Centre Against Sexual Assault Central Victoria and the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University have awarded Emily Jane Corbett an industry doctoral research scholarship.
Ms Corbett has moved from Melbourne to Bendigo for the opportunity. She is expected to be based in Bendigo for almost four years as she completes her research.
"I think I was attracted to this role, number one, because I come from a rural background. So I'm quite aware of some of the challenges people might face within a rural context," she said.
"I've also for a number of years been really interested in gender theory, and then having worked in the sector, more specifically around gendered violence.
"So I saw this as an opportunity to sort of combine not only my background from a rural area but my expertise in the sector, as well as my academic background."
Ms Corbett completed an undergraduate degree and honours in gender studies at the University of Melbourne.
She volunteered as a telephone support worker for the Women's Information and Referral Exchange, or WIRE, from 2015.
Ms Corbett's industry experience also includes working as a family violence trainer for the Domestic Violence Resource Centre.
"I was always interested in further study," she said.
However, she had wanted the research she produced for a PhD to be accessible to those working within the industry.
"I was really excited mostly because of the fact this PhD is an industry PhD," Ms Corbett said.
She will be based at CASA CV for part of the scholarship.
One of Ms Corbett's aims is to publish research numerous times during her scholarship, to save CASA CV having to wait for research at the end of the 3.5-year scholarship.
CASA CV - formerly Loddon Campaspe CASA - and ARCSHS are hopeful the research will benefit women locally and at state, national and international levels.
Asked what the organisations had been looking for in a successful scholarship candidate, CASA CV's Lee Edmonds said it was important they were passionate about the rural context.
"We know the rural perspective in Australia isn't made visible through research and the unique elements that contribute to sexual violence occurring in [rural] communities isn't well known," Ms Edmonds said.
ARCSHS Associate Professor Christopher Fisher said the ideal candidate needed to understand what it meant to work with community, given the sensitive nature of the issues they were researching.
They also needed to have the capacity to look "beyond just evaluating a program" and examining the broader societal and cultural issues that contributed to sexual violence.
"Because that's ultimately what we want to see moving the needle on... changing the social and cultural fabric that continues to support what happens," Dr Fisher said.
Gender inequality drives violence against women.
Gendered drivers include rigid gender stereotypes and a culture accepting of violence and disrespecting women.
Dr Fisher said there were a number of other reasons to challenge gender stereotypes.
"Strict gender roles can have a detrimental effect to a person's health and wellbeing," he said.
Effects included additional stress and anxiety and an increased likelihood of depression.
For support or advice about sexual violence, contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292.
In an emergency call 000.
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