Beyond the divide: women's experiences in rural Victorian psychiatric rehabilitation services

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Brooks, Margaret J. P (2003) Beyond the divide: women's experiences in rural Victorian psychiatric rehabilitation services. Research Master thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


The objective of this study was to give voice to women experiencing psychiatric rehabilitation services in rural Victoria. A critical analysis of the literature revealed a landscape of marginalisation and alienation for women experiencing a mental illness in a rural area. This study used a phenomenological method to explore the meanings of women's experiences. The understanding of meaning was developed through a dual perspective with women experiencing rural psychiatric rehabilitation and workers who delivered these services. The research centred on the voices of the women but encouraged a personal and collective reflective approach with workers. As the researcher I also took a reflexive approach which highlighted the methodology as an evolving and ongoing process and demonstrated the integral nature of the researcher in the research process. A chapter on locating the researcher was included as part this reflective process. The analysis of the collective stories produced a rich diversity of material was drawn together thematically to include: • Reflections of struggle; • Long way from anywhere: • The rural dimension; • Construction of a caring relationship, and, • Interlinking care. Through this thesis I argue that women are marginalised and alienated by social cultural conditions of their lives which impacts on their mental illness and rural experiences. However, women are not a homogenous group and a diversity of experiences exists which demonstrates women's active capacity to mediate their environment. As active participants in their psychiatric rehabilitation care the women were able to shift their identity from one of powerlessness and lack of control towards regaining control and managing their illness and environment. The thesis is a story of transformation as the women progressively moved forward in their journey.

Additional Information

Master of Social Work

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1117 Public Health and Health Services
Historical > FOR Classification > 1607 Social Work
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords Mentally ill women, Rehabilitation, Services, Victoria, Rural women, Social conditions
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