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Keywords:

  • free-text;
  • geography;
  • menopause;
  • qualitative;
  • rural

Abstract

Objective:  This paper explores women's experiences of drought in Australia. Despite the significance of drought for rural life in Australia, there is little research seeking to understand its psychological consequences. There is also a need to recognise gendered experiences of drought and for research that addresses its long-term effects as people age in prolonged drought-affected areas.

Design:  The study explores longitudinal qualitative data collected by the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Free-text comments (= 217), collected via mailed survey at five time points (1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007) from the same 77 women, were subjected to a narrative analysis.

Participants:  Participants from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health who were aged 45–50 when the study began in 1996.

Results:  Findings indicate that drought has an impact on women as they age, particularly in reference to menopause, access to support systems and retirement.

Conclusion:  This study concludes that the experience of drought cannot be disentangled from the realities of gender and ageing.