A new research project investigating the significance of martial arts training for domestic abuse survivors has been launched by Pink Belt Project Inc and the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia (RCSWA).   

The Pink Belt Project is a registered Australian charity providing one-year martial arts scholarships to female survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault with the aim of empowering them, aiding in their recovery, and preventing further violence.

The project was founded four years ago by WA Black Belt mum Kristy Hitchens and since then more than 70 Pink Belt Scholarships have been offered to women within every state and territory of Australia.

Ms Hitchens said research of this caliber was critical to informing the Pink Belt Project’s future direction and raising awareness of the training’s real-life results. 

“The research conclusions will be incredibly valuable tools for us in developing and shaping our work to ensure the best possible outcomes for scholarship recipients,” she said.

RCSWA medical coordinator Dr Claire Willix said the school’s staff and students would conduct a series of interviews this year with recipients of the Pink Belt Scholarships about their experience.

“We are grateful to the Pink Belt Project Team for providing this opportunity for our student doctors to learn how to do qualitative research and gain experience in talking sensitively to women who are survivors of domestic violence,” Dr Willix explained.

The research team comprises experienced medical researchers, a GP and medical coordinator, two third-year UWA Medical School students and Pink Belt Project Board Members.

RCSWA was established in 2002 by the University of Western Australia (UWA) to help deliver better health outcomes for people living in rural WA.

Now operating in partnership with Notre Dame University and Curtin University, the school trains future rural doctors and academics to ensure equitable access to high quality, culturally appropriate healthcare for rural and remote West Australians.

The research has just been granted Human Research Ethics Approval by UWA, ensuring the project scope and approach will be undertaken in accordance with the university’s ethical standards.

Donations to enable the scholarship program to be delivered to more women in 2023 are welcome via the project website pinkbelt.com.au.