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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 – Identifying areas of improvement on the systemic level.


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

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.

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

Worried About Sex And Pornography Project – WASAPP

The aim of the WASAPP project is to synthesise current evidence and generate new evidence about secondary prevention of harmful sexual behaviour, and to apply that evidence to the co-design of a Stop it Now! service or online website response to young people worried about their sexual behaviours.

The research questions are:

  1. What is known about intervening early in harmful sexual behaviour for children and young people?
  2. What are the components of a service response for children and young people worried about their sexual thoughts and behaviours?

How could this intervention be incorporated into an Australian Stop It Now! service?

Researchers: Dr Gemma McKibbin; Prof Cathy Humphreys; Prof Kelsey Hegarty; Dr Mohajer Hameed

Funders: N/A

Partners: Jesuit Social Services

Project Dates: June 2019 – June 2020

Contact: Gemma McKibbin