Violence against women is understood to occur on a continuum of economic, psychological and emotional abuse through to physical and sexual violence. It refers to ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life’ (UN 1993).

Interpersonal violence is violence occurring between individuals either known or unknown to one another. It is distinguished from collective violence (such as violence occurring in the course of war) and self-directed violence (such as suicide and other forms of self-harm) (WHO 2002).

Primary Prevention defines strategies that seek to redress the underlying determinants and contributing factors of a phenomena before it occurs. Strategies for the primary prevention of violence against women can be distinguished from tertiary responses that, for example, provide support and services to victims/survivors of violence.

Gender refers to the economic, social and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female at a particular point in time.

Sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male.

A determinant is an attribute or exposure which increases the probability of the occurrence of a disease or other specified outcome (in this context violence against women).   The term ‘risk factor’ is sometimes used interchangeably with this term in the literature.

Gender equality The concept of gender equality has evolved over time: initially, gender equality was concerned with treating everyone the same. However, treating unequals equally can perpetuate existing inequalities. By acknowledging and addressing different   needs, interests and values of women and men respectively, health services and professionals can work to overcome these inequalities and arrive at equitable outcomes.

Gender Equity is the fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men. It often requires women-specific programs and policies to end existing inequalities (WHO 2006).

Gender Mainstreaming involves integrating a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men at all levels of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes. It is a strategy for making the concerns and   experiences of women as well as of men an integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres, so that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal of gender mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality.

Early intevention (AKA Secondary Prevention) are interventions that are targeted to individuals and groups who exhibit early signs of violent behaviour or are at particular risk of experiencing violence.

A bystander is a person or persons, not directly involved as a victim or perpetrator, who   observes an act of violence, discrimination or other unacceptable or offensive behaviour.

Bystander Action is an action taken by a bystander to identify, speak out about or seek to engage others in responding to specific incidents of sexism, discrimination or violence against women.

Sex and/or Gender Discrimination are behaviours or practices that result in avoidable and unfair inequalities in power, resources and opportunities based on a person’s sex and/or gender identity. While the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 protects individuals across Australia from discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy, family responsibilities and from sexual harassment, discrimination can extend beyond this legal definition. It encompasses both interpersonal discrimination (that occurring between individuals) and systemic discrimination (that occurring in the practices, policies structures and   cultures of institutions).

Social Norms are rules of conduct and models of behaviour expected by a society or social group. They are rooted in the customs, traditions and value systems that gradually develop in a society or social group.

Sexism is behaviour, conditions or attitudes that foster or reinforce rigid gender roles based on a person’s sexual characteristics; and which may form the basis of hatred, prejudice or the devaluing of one sex over another.