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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.

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

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

Contact: Margaret Kertesz


Mothers in Mind: Independent Evaluation 2016-17.

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.

Women who use force – Evaluation of Positive Shift

While the dominant pattern of domestic and family violence (DFV) is male violence perpetrated against women, there are some women who use force against adult members of their families. The majority of these women are themselves victims/survivors of DFV. At times women are wrongly identified as the perpetrator or seen as having responsibility in mutual violence.

This project is developing the Australian knowledge base about women who use force and appropriate service responses. The research program comprises a number of components.

  1. Piloting of the +Shift program for women who use violence in intimate relationships
    (+Shift is adapted from the VISTA program curriculum developed by Lisa Young Larance, Allison Hoffman, and Jane Baldwin Shivas in the USA)
  2. Evaluation of +Shift
  3. Literature reviews – conceptualising the topic and programs and service responses for women who use force
  4. Workforce questionnaire to identify issues for the workforce in responding to this complex aspect DFV work.

Researchers: Professor Cathy Humphreys, UoM,
Dr Margaret Kertesz, UoM,
Anneliese Spiteri-Staines, UoM,
Dr Georgia Ovenden, UoM
Lisa Young Larance, University of Michigan

Funders: Department of Social Services

Partner: Curtin University, Baptcare, Berry Street

Project Dates: 2018-2019

Contact: Margaret Kertesz


Working with women who use force: a feasibility study protocol of the Positive (+) SHIFT group work programme in Australia.

Caring Dads – Evaluation Project

Kids First (formerly Children’s Protection Society), in partnership with UnitingCare ReGen, Anglicare Victoria and IPC Health, are currently trialling and developing the Caring Dads program in Victoria, with a view to delivering the program across the state. In late 2016, our team was contracted to conduct an independent evaluation of the Caring Dads research trial. The aims of this evaluation are to build an evidence base for the effectiveness of the Caring Dads program and to investigate the process of implementing a new program within the Victorian service delivery system and the broader Australian context.

Caring Dads is a 17-week early intervention program developed in Canada by the University of Toronto and Changing Ways. The program is for fathers who have physically abused, emotionally abused or neglected their children, or exposed their children to domestic violence. Caring Dads works with fathers who have used violence in the home, to help them develop skills in child-centred fathering and take responsibility for the impacts of their violence upon their children and their children’s mother.

For more information on the Caring Dad’s program visit the Kids First Website.

Researchers: Cathy Humphreys, Kristin Diemer, David Gallant, Larissa Fogden, Anna Bornemisza, Anneliese Spiteri-Staines, Liz Vercoe, and Mary Karambilas

Funders: Gandel Philanthropy, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Victoria

Partner: Kids First (formerly Children’s Protection Society), UnitingCare ReGen, Anglicare Victoria, IPC Health

Project Dates: 2017-2020

Contacts: Kristin Diemer, David Gallant


Caring Dads Program: Helping fathers value their children: Three site independent evaluation 2017-2020.

RCUS: Reaching Children through Universal Services – Evaluation Project

This project is an evaluation of the Reaching Children Through Universal Services (RCUS) project (one of 26 Family Violence Therapeutic Interventions demonstration projects funded by DHHS across Victoria). As RCUS is a newly implemented demonstration project, the aims of this evaluation are to document the initial development of the RCUS program model and to ascertain the extent to which this model is achieving its intended outcomes. Baptcare has commissioned the University of Melbourne to undertake this evaluation.

RCUS is a child-centred, family-sensitive initiative focused on responding holistically to children and young people (aged 0-18 years) who are victim/survivors of family violence. RCUS uses an integrated model that aims to:

  • Deliver therapeutic services to children and young people;
  • Provide support, education and linkage to families;
  • Contribute to service system integration by providing an opportunity for collaboration between universal, family and tertiary services; and
  • Build partner organisation capability by providing training on the impact of family violence to service providers within the local area.

Researchers: David Rose, Larissa Fogden

Funders: Baptcare

Partners: Brimbank City Council, Melton City Council, St Albans Primary School & Community Hub, Kurunjang Secondary College

Project Dates: July 2018 – June 2019

Contact: David Rose, Larissa Fogden

Respecting Sexual Safety in out-of-home care: An action research project

The Respecting Sexual Safety action research project aims to co-design and implement prevention strategies targeting harmful sexual behaviour, child sexual exploitation and dating violence for children and young people living in out-of-home care. Three prevention strategies are being trialled and evaluated in four residential houses in Victoria and with 20 foster care families.

Researchers: Dr Gemma McKibbin; Prof Cathy Humphreys; Anna Bornemisza

Funders: John T Reid Charitable Trusts; MacKillop Family Services; Department of Health and Human Services; Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare

Partners: MacKillop Family Services

Project Dates: November 2017 – May 2021

Contact: Gemma McKibbin

kNOwVAWdata: Measuring Violence against Women in the Asia Pacific

Reliable, comparable data on violence against women are essential to prevention and response efforts, however technical capacity to collect data about violence against women safely and accurately is limited.

In light of this, UNFPA in partnership with the University of Melbourne, ANROWS, and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is currently undertaking the kNOwVAWdata initiative to support and strengthen regional and national capacity to measure violence against women in Asia and the Pacific.

The initiative is centered around the kNOwVAWdata course, a four-week program for professionals seeking to build their skills in measuring the prevalence of violence against women. The kNOwVAWdata team is developing, piloting and rolling-out a standalone curriculum based on internationally recognized national violence against women prevalence survey methodologies, enabling global comparison of national survey data.

Ultimately, the team intends to expand the kNOwVAWdata curriculum to additional academic institutions in Asia and the Pacific and build a committed pool of trained professionals and researchers on the measurement of violence against women in Region.

Researchers: Kristin Diemer (Department of Social Work), Cathy Vaughan (Melbourne School of Population and Global Health), Joanne Rowe (Program Coordinator)

Funders: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

Partners: UNFPA, DFAT and Australia National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS)

Project Dates: 2017-2019

Contact: Kristin Diemer, Joanne Rowe, Cathy Vaughan