Australia and the U.S. Collaborate to Combat Violence Against Women

Australia and the U.S. Collaborate to Combat Violence Against Women

Last week, leaders from The University of Melbourne and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing participated on a panel at the Australian Embassy to discuss how they are using technology to combat violence against women in their countries and globally.

The event featured Professor Kelsey Hegarty from The University of Melbourne and Dr. Nancy Glass from JHSON. The Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Caroline Millar welcomed visitors to this important event and Dean Davidson introduced the event’s creator and JHSON Nursing Advisory Board member, Natalie Bush, RN, who established the first women’s counseling program in the Northern Territory of Australia.caroline millar

Caroline Millar, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Australia 

A question was asked of Kelsey and Nancy about how they developed an interest in the topic of violence against women. Kelsey stated that she had a concern about the prevalence barriers in research, while Nancy was always reminded about the problem as she encountered issues when practiced nursing.

Here’s an overview that was given regarding the size of the problem:

  • 1 in 6 Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner
  • For every 100 people in the U.S., there are 89 guns
  • For every 100 people in Australia there are 15 guns
  • Women are most vulnerable to being killed by their partner when they try to leave the relationship (This is when the man feels like he has less control.)

nancy glassNancy E. Glass, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN

The numbers are obviously there, so how are Kelsey and Nancy working together using technology to combat violence against women? It starts with a decision aid.

A decision aid is a tool for women in abusive relationships as well as healthcare workers who treat women in abusive relationships with regards to how to keep yourself and children safe while in the relationship. A decision aid can also assist with individualized safety action plans, linking to local resources.

Feedback from one user in the U.S. was, “The website may have saved my life. I never thought about putting together a safety plan before.” Kelsey stated that in Australia, Facebook was the best way to recruit for their Safety Decision Aid research study.

In addition to the decision aid there is the Internet Resource for Intervention and Safety (IRIS) trial. This program provides feedback about the level of danger the user (victim) may be in, given the information and answers they submit. The intervention group who used the decision aid found the plan was helpful and many were able to safely get out of their relationships.

Australia’s version of the IRIS Trial is called IDecide About My Relationship. IDecide is a website that’s being tested for women to self-reflect on the health of their relationships, become more informed about what might help them, and plan for their safety and well-being. The team of researchers behind IDecide are in general practice, social work, women’s health, nursing, and health technology.

There are more resources becoming available and studies being done to help women who are in these dangerous situations. Of course, men can be in these harmful relationships as well, but it’s much more common for the male to abuse the woman. In the planning phases is a self-identification and reflection tool for the abusers in a relationship is being created that is based off of one’s heart rate. If it notices the heart rate is accelerating, it can send a message to remind the abuser to take a few minutes and remove them self from the situation.

Julie Mason from SIRIUS XM’s POTUS channel 124, also hosted Dr. Glass the day before the event to discuss her research and work around violence against women. You can listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of the interview online.

women against violence eventPictured above from left to right: Kelsey Hegarty, Patricia Davidson, Nancy Glass, Natalie Bush, Taylor White

violence against women

Pictured above from left to right: Phyllis Sharps, Kelsey Hegarty, Jackie Campbell, Nancy Glass

Side note: At the embassy, there was an artwork exhibit on display. It turns out that the artist, Loongkoonan, is a 105-year-young resident of Australia who just began painting in her mid-90’s. Below is one of her paintings that is currently on display. You can read more about this amazing woman hereartwork



As a Social & Digital Media Coordinator, Sarah helps all faculty, staff, and students around the School of Nursing spread the word regarding their recent findings, events, travels, and endeavors.

Stay Up-To-Date

Get updates on the latest stories, from hot topics, to faculty research, alumni profiles, and more.

Ways to subscribe