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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 in a family context, and appropriate service responses. 


Dr Margaret Kertesz, UoM,
Professor Cathy Humphreys, UoM,
Jasmin Isobe, UoM,
Dr Anneliese Spiteri-Staines, UoM,
Dr Georgia Ovenden, UoM,
Lisa Young Larance, University of Michigan,
Professor Donna Chung, Curtin University,
Professor Robyn Martin, RMIT,
Amy Warren, Curtin University,
Assoc. Professor Richard Norman, Curtin University,
Darcee Schulze, Curtin University,
Dr Dave Vicary, Baptcare


Department of Social Services


Partner: Curtin University, Baptcare, Berry Street

Project Dates: 2018-2021

Contact: Margaret Kertesz


Kertesz, M., Humphreys, C., Larance, L. Y., Vicary, D., Spiteri-Staines, A., & Ovenden, G. (2019). Working with women who use force: a feasibility study protocol of the Positive (+) SHIFT group work programme in Australia. BMJ Open, 9(5), e027496.

Kertesz, M., Ovenden, G., & Humphreys, C. (2019). Independent Evaluation of +SHIFT at Tarrengower Prison. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.

Kertesz, M., Humphreys, C., Ovenden, G., Spiteri-Staines, A.  (2020) Women who use force: Final Report. Volume 1 – Executive Summary, Positive Shift Program, Evaluation of Positive Shift, and Practice Framework. Melbourne: University of Melbourne

Warren, A., Martin, R., Chung, D. (2020) Women who use force: Final Report. Volume 2 – International Literature Review. Melbourne: University of Melbourne

Warren, A., Martin, R., Chung, D. (2020) Women who use force: Final Report. Volume 3 – National Workforce Survey. Melbourne: University of Melbourne

Kertesz, M., Humphreys, C. & Larance, L.Y. (2021). Interventions for women who use force in a family context: an Australian Practice Framework. Melbourne: University of Melbourne.

“It happens to clinicians too”: An Australian prevalence and impacts study of domestic and family violence against health professionals

This PhD project is investigating the prevalence of domestic and family violence (DFV) in the lives of health professionals, and the impact of DFV on clinical work with survivor women patients.

Researchers: Ms Elizabeth McLindon, Professor Cathy Humphrey and Professor Kelsey Hegarty
Funders: The Sidney Myer Health Scholarship
Partners: N/A
Project Dates: PhD Completion date: June 2019

Fathering Challenges: Reparative, Responsive, Responsible fathering where there is domestic and family violence

This ARC Linkage project is aimed at improving the parenting experience of children whose fathers have used domestic and family violence (D/FV) and brings together:

  • researchers from The University of Melbourne, University of South Australia and Curtin University;
  • a consortium of 23 NGOs (see list below) and;
  • governments from Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

In an area where knowledge is partial and diverse explanations and approaches are taken in different sectors, the research design enables practice experience and research evidence to be drawn together to develop models of good practice, policy frameworks and the foundations for future comparative evaluation.


Prof Cathy Humphreys

Professor Kelsey Hegarty

Shawana Andrews

Dr Kristin Diemer

David Gallant

Katie Lamb

Anna Bornemisza

Associate Professor Leah Bromfield

Stewart McDougall

Professor Donna Chung

Dr Alan Campbell

Professor Nicky Stanley

Funders: ARC


University of South Australia, Curtin University;

a consortium of 23 NGOs and;

governments from Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.

Project Dates: 2014-2016

Contact: Kristin Diemer


Holistic programme developments and responses to Aboriginal men who use violence against women.

Child protection and fathering where there is domestic violence: Contradictions and consequences.

“Your behaviour has consequences”: Children and young people’s perspectives on reparation with their fathers after domestic violence.

Aboriginal men’s programs tackling family violence: A scoping review.

Fathers who use violence Options for safe practice where there is ongoing contact with children.


Tilting Our Practice: A Theoretical Model for Family Violence in Child Protection Practice

This project developed a theoretical model to frame child protection practice where there are children living with family violence, in partial fulfillment of the Victorian Royal Commission recommendations for child protection workers. The integrative approach taken by the researchers builds on the foundations of The Best Interests Case Practice Model and aligns with key drivers in developing a child protection response that is research based and supports practitioners to tilt their focus to a more effective practice when responding to family violence. The framework and the accompanying Tilting our Practice Resource are designed to inform and complement training in this area for all Child Protection staff.


Professor Marie Connolly, UoM
Professor Cathy Humphreys, UoM
Dr Margaret Kertesz, UoM

Funders: Department of Health and Human Services (Victoria)
Partners: Department of Health and Human Services (Victoria)
Project Dates: 2017-2018

Contact: Margaret Kertesz


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.

Co-designing a decision-making tool to assist GPs and practice nurses in the decision to report child abuse

General practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses (PNs) are mandated to report suspicion of child maltreatment in Australia. However, the decision to report child maltreatment is emotionally difficult for GPs and practice nurses.  My project aims to co-design a decision-making tool to improve decision-making involving mandatory reporting of child abuse and reduce decisional conflict. I’ll be using ‘co-design’ and ‘action research’ methodology to guide my project. It is hoped that the tool will allay the emotional burden that mandatory reporting of child abuse causes and encourage more accurate referral of children experiencing child maltreatment.

Researchers: Jacqueline Kuruppu, Professor Kelsey Hegarty, Professor Cathy Humphreys and Dr Gemma McKibbin
Funders: N/A
Partners: N/A
Project Dates: April 2018 – April 2021

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

The socio-cultural factors of adult family homicide

The research examines the socio-cultural factors of adult familial homicide in Victoria. The project aims to examine the role that socio-cultural factors can play for both the deceased and the offender and within intimate partner and other (non-intimate) family relationships. It is intended that the research will lead to a better understanding of the reasons and circumstances for adult familial homicide, be this intimate partner based or other types of family relationships.  The ultimate intention of the project is crime prevention, that is minimising in future the number of family homicide deaths.


Siân Harrison (PhD Candidate)

Cathy Humphreys, Stuart Ross and Lyndal Bugeja (supervisors)

Funders: Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship

Partners: The research data was obtained from the Coroners Court of Victoria

Project Dates: The PhD is due for completion in October 2019