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The SHEBA project, Safe at Home, Experiences, Barriers and Access

Abstract: The SHEBA project (Safe at Home, Experiences, Barriers and Access) draws on a strong partnership between researchers (University of Melbourne and University of NSW), Victorian Community Sector organisations providing family violence services (McAuley, Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand, In-Touch, Centre of Non-Violence) and women with lived experience (The Weavers) to understand the safety and effectiveness of personal safety initiatives and other strategies to keep women and their children safely in their homes. The perspectives of women with lived experience, practitioners and policy workers will be explored with a view to informing policy and practice to strengthen the current Victorian response. Particular attention will be given to women from minority cohorts experiencing compounding issues of discrimination. It will also ascertain the implication for safe at home responses at times of disaster and emergencies.

Researchers: Cathy Humphreys, Kristin Diemer, Jasmin Isobe

Funders/Partner Organisations: McAuley – https://www.mcauley.org.au/

Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand – https://goodshep.org.au/

InTouch – https://intouch.org.au/

Centre for Non-Violence – https://www.cnv.org.au/

Project Dates: July 2022-July 2024

Contact: Prof Cathy Humphreys


M: 0437392181

Stop It Now!


Stop It Now! is an early intervention program that operates in North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the Netherlands, and has also previously operated on a small scale in Queensland, Australia. The central aim of the Stop It Now! service is to protect children and prevent child sexual abuse.

Stop It Now!’s key feature is a confidential phone helpline that provides information and support for people who are worried about their own sexual thoughts and behaviours in relation to children, as well as parents, family-members, and professionals who are concerned about actual or potential child sexual abuse. The service is staffed by highly skilled practitioners with expertise in working with people who may have perpetrated child sexual abuse. The University of Melbourne is undertaking the evaluation of Stop it Now! Australia in partnership with Jesuit Social Services.


Dr Gemma McKibbin, Julie Green, Prof Cathy Humphreys

Funders/Partner organisation:

Funding: Westpac grant

Partners: Jesuit Social Services, Google

Project Dates: Jan 2021 – Dec 2023

Contact: Dr Gemma McKibbin
T: 0437 281 543
E: gemma.mckibbin@unimelb.edu.au

DICE: Disrupting child sexual exploitation


The DICE project builds upon the work of Power to Kids as well as other multiagency initiatives such as the work of the Victorian Office of Professional Practice (Enhanced Response Model and Sexual Exploitation Protocol), to address the need for further development of a collaborative prevention and disruption approach to child sexual exploitation.

The project aims to explore implementation of three primary elements of an enhanced CSE response – trauma-informed disruptive policing; multiagency working; and attention to children and young people going missing from residential and home-based statutory care as a consequence of CSE – across sites in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and with support from Department of Social Services (DSS), the Australian Federal Police, and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE).


Prof Cathy Humphreys, Dr Gemma McKibbin, Prof Stuart Ross, Julie Green (all University of Melbourne), Prof Ben Mathews, (QUT) Assoc. Prof Susan Heward-Belle (University of Sydney), Assoc. Prof Lisa Gold (Deakin University)

Funders/Partner organisation:

Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant with 11 partners:

Project Dates: Feb 2022 – Feb 2025

Contact: Dr Gemma McKibbin
T: 0437 281 543
E: gemma.mckibbin@unimelb.edu.au

Power to Kids: Process & Outcomes Evaluation


The Power to Kids program seeks to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts in response to sexual exploitation, harmful sexual behavior and dating violence in residential care. This is achieved through: upskilling carers about sexual health and safety knowledge; building carers capabilities to prevent, identify and intervene early when they see indicators of abuse; and increasing children and young people’s understanding of healthy relationships and sexual safety. Power to Kids was piloted in MacKillop Family Services’ residential homes and is now being implemented across all MacKillop residential care homes. This process and outcomes evaluation aims to explore the implementation and impacts of Power to Kids as it is upscaled across MacKillop residential care.

Researchers: Dr Gemma McKibbin, Esther Gallois, Anna Bornemisza, Prof Cathy Humphreys

Funders/Partner organisation: Mackillop Family Services

Project Dates: Jan – Dec 2022

Contact: Dr Gemma McKibbin
T: 0437 281 543
E: gemma.mckibbin@unimelb.edu.au

Work With Us: Power to Kids – PhD Studentship


A full-time graduate research studentship is available for a suitable PhD candidate in the Power to Kids action research project. The studentship is offered by MacKillop Family services (MacKillop) in collaboration with the University of Melbourne. We are seeking a PhD candidate with an interest in research focused on prevention and response to child sexual abuse and domestic and family violence, as well as on the out-of-home care sector.


The PhD studentship is valued at $40,000 per annum and is indexed and tax exempt. This studentship is for three years and can potentially be extended for up to six months, subject to satisfactory progress toward timely completion.

Closes: Wednesday 23 March 2022

Position description

KODY: Researching an all-of-family program in family violence & substance misuse

The KODY research project (Kids First (Caring Dads) and Odyssey House Victoria (Kids in Focus) surrounds the innovative KODY intervention which aims to address the combined impact of harmful behaviours, drugs and alcohol on family relationships. The KODY program takes an all-of-family approach incorporating a group program for men, AOD counselling and family support within a collaboration between Kids First Australia and Odyssey House. The research project, led by academic researchers and practice leaders, investigates how we address the families living at the intersection of violence and substance misuse; the combined impacts of DFV and AOD for families; how AOD is used as a tactic of power and control in men’s perpetration of DFV and in their parenting; and the implications for service responses and policy development. The research project involves the following components:

  1. Trial of the KODY program including process and developmental evaluation.
  2. Outcomes evaluation of the KODY program including refinement of outcomes measures.
  3. An all-of-family approach to multisectoral AOD and DFV responses.
  4. Safe integration of children’s perspectives into practice.
  5. Cross-sectoral collaboration strategies and implications for policy.

The KODY research includes two PhD projects:

  • Larissa Fogden – Investigating children’s experiences of the father-child relationship in the context of family violence and parental substance misuse.
  • Van Nguyen – A systemic approach to advancing cross-sector collaboration between domestic and family violence (DFV), and alcohol or other drugs (AOD) services.


Prof. Cathy Humphreys, Dr Margaret Kertesz, Larissa Fogden, Van Nguyen, Esther Gallois (University of Melbourne)
Prof. Katreena Scott (Western University)
Dr Anne-Marie Laslett (Latrobe University)
Dr Menka Tsantefski (Griffith University)

Funders: Australian Research Council (Project ID: LP200200847)

Partner organisations: Kids First Australia, Odyssey House Victoria, Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

Project Dates: 2021-2024

Contact: Dr Margaret Kertesz
Email: mkertesz@unimelb.edu.au
Phone: +61 3 9035 8508

The DAHLIA-19 Project: Domestic Abuse Harnessing Learning Internationally under COVID-19

DAHLIA-19 is examining policy and practice responses in 4 upper or upper/middle income countries with established DA services where different strategies have been introduced. In each country, a team of academic researchers works with major partner organisations to ensure that the study can draw on practice and policy expertise, is relevant to the sector’s needs and that findings are widely disseminated and appropriately targeted. To find out more about this project, please visit https://www.dahlia19study.com/about

Download a PDF of this Report

Researchers: Cathy Humphreys, Kelsey Hegarty, Gemma McKibbin

Funders: ESRC, UK

Partner organisations: ANROWS, Australian National Research Organisation for Women Safety; Family Safety Victoria

Project Dates: 2020-2022

Contact: Cathy Humphreys and Gemma McKibbin

ESTIE: The Evidence to Support Safe and Together Implementation and Evaluation Project

ESTIE  is an action research study that is simultaneously investigating and developing practitioner and organisational capacity to drive improvements in collaborative and holistic service provision for children and families living with DFV where parental issues of mental health and/or alcohol and other drug use co-occur.


Chief Investigators:  Cathy Humphreys; Margaret Kertesz;
Jasmin Isobe (UoM); Erin Links (UoM); Cherie Toivonen (CLT Byron Consulting); Lesley Laing (University of Sydney)

Funders: NSW Ministry of Health

Project Dates: 2020 -2022

Contact: Margaret Kertesz

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

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.

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