Intersection of animal and domestic and family violence

Perpetrators of family violence often threaten to abuse or harm family pets and animals as a way to exert control. This project is focused on building the evidence-base around connections between domestic violence and harm to animals. Our work includes contributing to the evidence through small projects, trainings for vets, organising conferences and workshops on the intersection of animal abuse and domestic violence.

Researchers: Dr Kristin Diemer, Dr Georgia Ovenden, Anna Bornemisza

Funders: We are currently developing research projects and are keen to include interested partners.

University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
Lucy’s Project: Safe families – paws and all
Merri Health
Cherished Pets Foundation

Project Dates: 2017-ongoing

Contact: Kristin Diemer

Gallant, D., Andrews, S., Humphreys, C., Diemer, K., Ellis, D., Burton, J., & McIvor, R. (2017). Aboriginal men’s programs tackling family violence: A scoping review. Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, 20(2), 48-68.

Abstract: Academic and community research identifies that Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at a greater risk of being exposed to family violence than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. While much of the literature has had a clear focus on the protection of Aboriginal women and children, there is a dearth of research that has examined the nature and efficacy of Aboriginal programs that seek to address men’s use of violence. In recent times, governments, policy makers, and community organisations have all sought to gain a greater understanding of how men’s group programs, that are specifically aimed at tackling family violence, are addressing these issues.

Utilising a scoping review methodology, this paper examines and summarises the available Australian and international literature available pertaining to these programs. Furthermore, from the findings of the scoping review the authors present a conceptual model for the purpose of discussing the complexities of tackling family violence issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s group programs.

To view the original publication, click here

Researchers: Gallant, D., S. Andrews, C. Humphreys, K. Diemer, D. Ellis, J. Burton, W. Harrison, R. Briggs, C. Black, A. Bamblett, S. Torres-Carne and R. McIvor.

Year: 2017

Campo, M., & Humphreys, C. (2017). Fathers who use violence Options for safe practice where there is ongoing contact with children.

Abstract: Domestic and family violence (DFV) remains a chronic and destructive aspect of family life in Australia (Cox, 2015). Its pervasive reach into the lives of women and children creates fear, undermines health and wellbeing, is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children, and costs the community an estimated $21.6 billion (Our Watch, 2016; Price Waterhouse & Cooper, 2015). This paper responds to a challenge that has continued to frustrate workers attempting to intervene to support women and children living with DFV. The challenge that arises when women and children may not be in a position to separate from their abusive and violent partners, and when women and children’s wellbeing and safety may not be enhanced by separation. In particular, this paper is focused on fathers who use violence and whether there are strategies that engage and address the issues for children, women and men who are continuing to live with DFV.

To view the original publication, click here

Researchers: Humphreys, C. & Campo, M.

Year: 2017

Keeping Safe Together: Working with families who have experienced family violence – Evaluation project

Keeping Safe Together (KST) program offers a whole of family case management approach for families who have been impacted by family violence and want to stay together.  Program staff work with mothers, fathers and children individually through both accountability and therapeutic lenses.  The evaluation aims to assess the effectiveness of the program to fill a service gap of increasing the safety for women and children currently living with violence and identify areas for program improvement. 

Dr Kristin Diemer
Professor Cathy Humphreys
Anneliese Spiteri-Staines
Dr Deb Absler

The Bouverie Centre
MacKillop Family Services
Good Shepherd

Project Dates: January 2019 – June 2019

Contact: Kristin Diemer


Keeping Safe Together: Independent pilot program evaluation 2019: Summary of findings and recommendations.

CMIM: Children and Mothers in Mind – Evaluation Project

Children and Mothers in Mind (CMIM) is a group program for mothers and pre-school children who have experienced family violence in the past. Developed as Mothers in Mind by the Child Development Institute (CDI), Canada, the Children’s Protection Society piloted Mothers in Mind in 2016-17 and introduced an adaptation – Children and Mothers in Mind – from 2017. Key components of CMIM include the Connections group program, the Mothers in Mind group program and ongoing casework with participants. The evaluation consists of post group and follow up interviews with participants and staff to complement the pre and post-group psychometric measures collected by CDI.


Dr Margaret Kertesz, UoM,
Professor Cathy Humphreys, UoM,
Larissa Fogden, UoM,
Dr Angelique Jenney, University of Calgary, Canada


Key funder:  Learning Systems Grant – OPEN

Additional Funding:

Kids First Australia
Barwon Centre Against Family Violence & Sexual Assault
Family Care (Shepparton)
Anglicare Victoria
Quantum Family Violence Service


Kids First Australia
Barwon Centre Against Family Violence & Sexual Assault
Family Care (Shepparton)
Anglicare Victoria
Quantum Family Violence Service
Merri Outreach Support Service

Project Dates: 2018-2019

Contact: Margaret Kertesz

Publications: Fogden, L., Kertesz, M. and Humphreys, C. (2018) Mothers in Mind: Independent Evaluation 2016-17. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.

Kertesz, M. Ramamurthy, A., Fogden, L., & Humphreys, C. (2019). Children and Mothers in Mind Independent Evaluation 2018-19 Participant and Facilitator Feedback: Final Report. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.

Cloaked in Strength – An exploration of Aboriginal mothers’ experiences of family violence and the role of cultural practice as a tool of engagement, resilience and resistance.

The Cloaked in Strength study aims to explore Aboriginal mothers’ experiences of family violence using possum skin cloak making as a tool of engagement, resilience and resistance.  It is built upon the core premises of Indigenous research: relationality and accountability, place, reciprocity and reflexivity. The project uses Aboriginal women’s standpoint as its interpretive lens and a fusion of hermeneutic principles and Indigenous methodologies. The research focuses upon the experiences of family violence of fifteen Aboriginal mothers living in Melbourne.  The women were engaged through the local network of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and invited to participate in individual interviews, a series of possum skin cloak making workshops and a yarning circle.  

Researchers: Shawana Andrews

Supervisors: Cathy Humphreys, Bridget Hamilton

Funders: This work was supported by the Indigenous Research Initiative of the Melbourne Hallmark Research Initiatives Program, the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Partners: This research is being conducted with the support of and within the Victorian Aboriginal Community-controlled sector.

Project Dates: 2016 –

Investigating a model of reparation among university students and domestic violence perpetrators: understanding the psychological underpinnings

Understanding the psychological process of reparation and self-forgiveness has been an area of increased research interest over the last decade. Theoretical and empirical models have linked guilt, shame, self-oriented and other-oriented empathy, conciliatory behaviour and self-forgiveness together but there is a lack of clarity around the direction of their relationships. Most past research on this topic has focused on university student participants with little attention on other groups. The aim of this project is to investigate both an earlier proposed model and alternative new models and offer more information on what relationships appear to fit the data best among university students, to enable best comparison to existing findings. Moreover, we are extending the model to domestic violence perpetrators to better understand their psychological processes with the hope to offer guidance to intervention programs.


Anna Bornemisza, Professor Lisa Phillips, Professor Cathy Humphreys, Dr Kristin Diemer

Funders: University of Melbourne Scholarship Fund

Partners: The research data was obtained and used in collaboration with the Fathering Challenges project

Project Dates: The PhD is due for completion in 2019

Contact: Anna Bornemisza

MAEVe: Melbourne research Alliance to End Violence Against Women

The Alliance involves a collaboration with GP Practice and Primary Care with Professor Cathy Humphreys from Social Work and Professor Kelsey Hegarty from General Practice as co-leads.

It strives to make a difference to the lives of women and children affected by abuse and violence. Preventing and responding to violence against women and children is not the domain and responsibility of any one discipline. The Alliance brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines throughout the University of Melbourne in order to tackle this complex and challenging problem.

Three strands underpin the Alliance’s research program

  • Understanding the dynamics of intimate partner violence
  • Early identification through primary health care
  • Innovative integrated responses for vulnerable groups

Researchers: N/A
Partners: Prof Kelsey Hegarty
Project Dates: 2016-2020
Contact: Cathy Humphreys

EVA: Evaluation, Violence, & Abuse – Building the Evidence

The EVA project is a 12-month evaluation capacity building initiative for family violence service providers in Australia. The project is a collaboration between Drummond Street Services and University of Melbourne to develop family violence specific evaluation resources, establish and develop a Community of Practice for services providing family violence programs and, where applicable, to provide direct consulting services on evaluation to organisations.

Prof Humphreys (CI), Dr Rose (CI), Mr. Gallant, & Dr Ovenden

Drummond Street Services

Drummond Street Services

Project Dates:
June 2018 – June 2019

Contacts: David Rose, David Gallant


Building the Evidence: A report on the status of policy and practice in responding to violence against women with disabilities in Victoria.

Implementing a Novel Approach to Knowledge Translation with a Research Network – The Share Project

Despite ten years of growth in knowledge translation research there is still a gap between research findings and applying this knowledge in practice.  Recently, there has also been a rapid expansion of domestic violence research, however there remains a lack of evaluation of their knowledge translation activities.  The proposed study aims to implement an innovative realist approach to knowledge translation with an interdisciplinary research network (including lived experience participants) researching domestic violence.

Researchers: Jacqui Cameron, Cathy Humphreys, Kelsey Hegarty
Funders: Australian Government Research Training

  • Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence
  • MAEVe

Project Dates: April 2017-April 2020