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Whole of family approaches for addressing family violence: An Aboriginal lens on the Safe & Together Framework

This project is exploring whole of family approaches to addressing family violence when there are intersecting issues of alcohol and other drug use, mental health and child protection. The Project will explore Aboriginal expertise on holistic approaches to this work whilst at the same time examining the applicability of the Safe & Together model when working with Aboriginal families in NSW within the context of invasion, colonisation and Stolen Generations. The Project is Aboriginal driven in collaboration with NSW Health. The Project team comprises both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers.


  • Marlene Lauw (ML Consultancy Services) – Chief Investigator and Aboriginal Consultant
  • Assoc. Prof. Shawana Andrews (University of Melbourne)- Aboriginal Consultant to the Research Team
  • Irene Wardle (Warami Consultancy) – Chief Investigator and Aboriginal Researcher
  • Lois Newman – Aboriginal Research Officer
  • Prof. Cathy Humphreys (University of Melbourne) – Chief Investigator
  • Cherie Toivonen (CLT Byron Consulting, NSW) – Chief Investigator/Research Project Manager
  • Dr Margaret Kertesz (University of Melbourne) – Chief Investigator
  • Assoc. Prof. Emeritus Lesley Laing (University of Sydney) – Consultant to the Research Team

Funders and Partners:

Funded by NSW Ministry of Health – Prevention and Response to Violence, Abuse and Neglect (PARVAN) Unit

Safe & Together Institute

Project Dates: 2022 – 2024

Contact: Dr Margaret Kertesz

DICE ‘ROLE’: Disrupting Child Sexual Exploitation – Researching Onset of Young People’s Lived Experience with Coerced ‘Self-produced’ Material

This project focuses on how children and young people are being coerced to ‘self-produce’ Child Exploitation Material (CEM). This qualitative study will utilise an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to hear from children, young people and relevant professionals so they can identity the various pathways leading children and young people to ‘self-produce’ CEM. It is anticipated that by understanding the events and actions that children and young people are subjected to, that prevention and response strategies can be further identified, refined and implemented to help keep children and young people safe from exploitation.

Read more about the DICE (Disrupting Child Exploitation) Project


PhD Candidate Genevieve Bloxsom is being supervised by Professor Cathy Humphreys, Dr Gemma McKibbin and Dr Jennifer Davidson.


A stipend studentship has been provided by McKillop Family Services as part of their Power to Kids Program.

Partner organisations:

In addition to McKillop Family Service’s studentship, they also participate as part of the Advisory Committee. This project is a nested study within the DICE (Disrupting Child Exploitation) Project.

Project Dates: Oct 2022 – Oct 2025

Contact: Genevieve Bloxsom

BPD Community Relational Support

Abstract: This project aimed to explore relational support as an area of learning and intervention contributing to more positive relationships, recovery, and wellbeing for people with lived experience of BPD. This study focused on family, friends and carers of someone with BPD as a priority group in the BPD community, and an identified gap in research and literature. This project aimed to contribute to the emerging discourse surrounding the role of relationships and social connection in recovery from BPD and support for family, friends, and carers, and provide an initial evidence base for further inquiry in this under-researched and complex area.

Researchers: Dr Anneliese Spiteri-Staines & Jasmin Isobe

Funders: Melbourne Disability Institute

Partner Organisations: BPD Community

Project Dates: March to October 2022

Contact: Dr Anneliese Spiteri-Staines

Final Project Report

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:


Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand


Centre for Non-Violence

Project Dates: July 2022-July 2024


Prof Cathy Humphreys
Ph: +61 437 392 181

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

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.

KODY includes the following PhD project:



Prof. Cathy Humphreys, Dr Margaret Kertesz, Van Callaly, Mael Guillou, Hanh Nguyen (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.

This Practice Resource is designed for any worker practising at the intersections of domestic and family violence, mental health, and alcohol and other drug use, with families who are challenged by any or all of these issues. It provides detailed guidance, examples, and tips, and can be used, for example, in training and supporting staff, as a foundational reference for practice development, and continuous improvement.

The ESTIE Quick Reference Guide is a desktop prompt for workers practising at the intersections of domestic and family violence (DFV), mental health, alcohol and other drug use, and child protection. It is a quick reference companion document to the ESTIE Practice Resource and should not be used without reference to the fuller explanations contained in the ESTIE Practice Resource.

The ESTIE Research Report provides comprehensive details on the background, methodology, practice findings and implications of the ESTIE action research study that both investigated and developed 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. The report is designed for policy makers, researchers and those interested in the research processes and findings from ESTIE, and includes discussion of capacity-building and practice change components of the project.


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