Reducing violence against women and children

This research program aims to build a body of evidence for effective interventions to prevent and reduce the effects of family and gender-based violence, especially those that can be delivered in primary health care and community settings.

We also acknowledge the need to shape responses to the differing effects of family violence on diverse communities, such as migrant and refugee and Aboriginal communities.

La Trobe Violence Against Women Research Network (LAVAWN)

Violence against women is a public health and human rights issue affecting the health and well-being of women across the globe. The La Trobe Violence Against Women Network (LAVAWN) has been established to draw together the breadth of expertise across La Trobe University working on this important issue.

Based at the Judith Lumley Centre and led by Professor Angela Taft and Dr Leesa Hooker, and chaired by Dr Kirsty Forsdike, the aim of the network is to encourage collaboration and partnerships, with the aim of fostering innovation in violence against women research, evaluation and knowledge translation.

For more information about the network, see the LAVAWN website or contact Jess Ison, LAVAWN Coordinator:

Leading change on violence against women through the health sector in Timor-Leste

This three year project is funded through an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2017-2019) to Dr Kayli Wild. This project aims to understand the role of the health sector in ending violence against women in low-resource settings. Timor-Leste, Australia’s nearest and most fragile neighbour, has an extremely high rate of violence against women. This research draws on the perspectives of health professionals, policy-makers and women's experiences to study challenges facing the health sector and how it responds to domestic and sexual violence. Expected outcomes include models of care that can be tested in other post-conflict, remote and low-income settings in the region. Details and research outputs from the studies conducted as part of this project can be found below.

Building a primary health care response to violence against women: The knowledge and needs of midwives in three municipalities of Timor-Leste

In Timor-Leste around half the women of reproductive age have experienced physical or sexual violence in the past 12 months. As front-line health providers for women across the country, midwives are a key access point in rural and remote areas. This research explores midwives’ knowledge and needs in responding to violence against women in three districts of Timor-Leste. Funded by a La Trobe Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area grant, interviews were conducted from May to July 2016, and included 48 midwives and community leaders in a variety of health care settings in Timor-Leste. The findings provide rich insights into midwives’ current practices that can be used to tailor training materials which build on midwives’ strengths and help fill gaps in knowledge. A further analysis of factors which enable or constrain the ability of midwives to respond to cases of violence reveals critical health system supports which should be implemented alongside a national training program. This research highlights the potential of a ‘whole health facility’ approach which addresses the capacity of all health centre staff and managers to respond appropriately, supports leadership and links health services with wider social change processes.

Supporting health system responses to violence against women and children in Timor-Leste website

Download reports:

*Full report [PDF 4.2MB]

*Executive summary English [PDF 232KB]

*Executive summary Tetun [PDF 200KB]

Midwives Against Violence: Discussion video

Supplementary documents for the video:

Video discussion questions English [DOC 216KB]

Video discussion questions Tetun [DOC 226KB]


ABC interview with Dr. Kayli Wild

Harmony – a whole of general practice intervention with bilingual GPs and domestic violence advocates to improve identification and referral of women experiencing family violence, especially South Asian communities

The Harmony pilot study and now the full Harmony study is a cultural adaptation of a highly successful UK trial (Feder et al, 2006), with the addition of elements from two Australian studies, WEAVE (Hegarty et al, 2013) and MOSAIC (Taft et al, 2009). The primary aim is to test the effectiveness of culturally safe domestic and family violence (DFV) training combined with year-long bilingual caseworker/advocate referral support in increasing the rates of GP identification, documentation and referrals of women experiencing DFV, especially those of migrant/refugee background. A secondary aim is to evaluate GP systems software developed to anonymously collect aggregated patient data on the identification and referral of DFV incidents.

At the end of a feasibility study, 13 women were successfully referred to inTouch (Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence) compared with none from comparison practices. Our application to the NHMRC in partnership with federal and state governments and inTouch for a full trial was successful in 2017. We commenced recruiting staff and planning for the full study in 2018.

researchersAngela Taft; in collaboration with Alan Shiell, La Trobe University; Kelsey Hegarty, Douglas Boyle, University of Melbourne; Danielle Mazza, Monash University; Jane Yelland, Cattram Nguyen, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Gene Feder, Bristol University (UK); Roshan Bhandary, InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence; and Claudia Garcia-Moreno, the World Health Organization
websiteHarmony website
fundingNHMRC Partnerships Grant with the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet; Transforming Human Societies and Building Healthy Communities Research Focus Area grants (pilot)

This program brings together the scholarly fields of domestic violence and alcohol to: analyse the complex relationship between alcohol misuse and domestic violence across the life cycle and among diverse family models; assess the effectiveness of current policies, programs and front-line responses to respond to alcohol-related domestic violence; and propose strategies at individual, relationship, family, community and societal levels to prevent and reduce alcohol-related domestic violence.

The study team has been granted access to the UN Multicultural Study on Men and Violence for secondary analysis. With VicHealth funding support, three symposia were presented at international conferences.

researchersAngela Taft and Ingrid Wilson; in collaboration with Anne-Marie Laslett, Sandra Kuntsche, La Trobe University; Kate Graham, University of Western Ontario

Wilson IM, Eurenius E, Lindkvist M, Edin K, Edvardsson K. Is there an association between pregnant women's experience of violence and their partner's drinking? A Swedish population-based study. Midwifery 2019; 69:84-91

Graham K, Bernards S, Laslett A-M, Gmel G, Kuntsche S, Wilsnack S, Bloomfield K, Grittner U, Taft A, Wilson I, Wells S. Children, parental alcohol consumption and intimate partner violence: A multi-country analysis by perpetration versus victimization and sex. J Interpers Violence 2018 (in press). Epub 2018 Oct 17

Graham K, Wilson I, Taft A. The broader context of preventing alcohol-related intimate partner violence. Drug Alcohol Rev2017; 36(1):10-2

Wilson IM, Graham K, Taft A. Living the cycle of drinking and violence: A qualitative study of women's experience of alcohol-related intimate partner violence. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017; 36(1):115–24

fundingLTU Big Bid program, VicHealth, ARC DECRA (Anne-Marie Laslett)

Training needs analysis and professional development plan for Victorian maternal and child health nurses

In 2018, the Victorian Government Department of Education and Training (DET) commissioned JLC to conduct a Maternal and Child Health (MCH) workforce family violence Training Needs Analysis and develop a comprehensive, four-year, professional development plan in consultation with DET and key MCH and project stakeholders.

We conducted an analysis of state-wide routine data, stakeholder interviews and a state-wide survey of nurses to: identify existing MCH nurse family violence knowledge, attitudes, skills and practices; explore MCH nurse family violence training needs and preferences; and examine MCH nurse family violence reporting practices from routine Key Ages and Stages (KAS) data on family violence screening, safety planning and referral.

Results were used to develop a Training Needs Analysis report and a four-year Professional Development plan for future implementation for the Victorian MCH workforce, including focus areas, objectives, learning outcomes, timing and modes of delivery for the training. A complementary four-year evaluation strategy was also outlined.

researchersAngela Taft, Leesa Hooker, Lael Ridgway, Jan Nicholson

Hooker LN, Taft A, Nicholson J, Ridgway L. Victorian maternal and child health workforce family violence training needs analysis. Melbourne: La Trobe University; 2018

Taft A, Hooker LN, Nicholson J, Ridgway L. Maternal and child health workforce family violence professional development plan. Melbourne: La Trobe University; 2018

fundingVictorian Department of Education and Training

Collaborative work

Centre for Research Excellence to Promote Safer Families

The Centre of Research Excellence to promote Safer Families (Safer Families CRE) is the first dedicated Australian Centre to lead research into Intimate Partner Violence. It is a five-year program (2017–2022) funded by NHMRC. The Centre is a national and international collaboration comprising researchers, families and communities, policy-makers, practitioners, community organisations, and health, family and women’s services.

The RECOVER study with Leesa Hooker as a nominated postdoctoral scholar is funded through the CRE.

researchersAngela Taft; in collaboration with Kelsey Hegarty, Cathy Humphreys, Peter Anderson and Lena Sanci, University of Melbourne; Stephanie Brown, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Gene Feder, Bristol University, UK
websiteSafer Families website
fundingNHMRC CRE

I-DECIDE – an internet-based safety decision aid for women experiencing intimate partner violence

A randomised controlled trial

Evidence for online interventions to help women experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) is limited. We assessed whether an online interactive healthy relationship tool and safety decision aid (I-DECIDE) would increase women’s self-efficacy and improve depressive symptoms compared to an IPV information website.

researchersAngela Taft; in collaboration with Kelsey Hegarty, Cathy Humphreys, Laura Tarzia and Jodie Valpied, University of Melbourne; Nancy Glass, Johns Hopkins University; Elizabeth Murray, University College, London
fundingARC Discovery grant

Reconnecting mothers and children after violence (RECOVER)

The Australian child–parent psychotherapy feasibility study

Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is an intervention for children aged 0–5 years who have experienced traumatic events such as violence, and are experiencing mental health, attachment, and behavioural problems. Therapeutic sessions with the child and primary caregiver seek to strengthen the caregiver-child relationship as a vehicle for restoring and protecting the child’s health, development and wellbeing.

The aim of the RECOVER project is to pilot an Australian adaptation of the US developed Lieberman CPP model of care (Lieberman et al., 2015) for abused Victorian women and their children. This includes recruiting 15 mother-pre-school child dyads, delivery of CPP intervention according to family need (average 20-32 weeks), completing qualitative process evaluation of the feasibility and acceptability of implementing CPP, and the piloting of outcome measures. If effective, findings will inform future trialling and expansion of CPP nationally.

researchersLeesa Hooker, Angela Taft; in collaboration with Cathy Humphreys, University of Melbourne; Emma Toone, Berry Street Childhood Institute; Goulburn Valley Health Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services
websiteRECOVER – Reconnecting mothers and children after violence: The Child Parent Psychotherapy pilot [external link to ANROWS website]
publicationsHooker L, Toone E, Raykar V, Humphreys C, Morris A, Westrupp ETaft A. Reconnecting mothers and children after violence (RECOVER): a feasibility study protocol of child–parent psychotherapy in Australia. BMJ Open 2019; 9:e023653.
fundingNHMRC, Centre for Research Excellence (CRE) grant and post-doctoral fellowship (LH), ANROWS

The safe pregnancy study

Promoting safety behaviours in antenatal care among Norwegian, Pakistani and Somali pregnant women

The Safe Pregnancy Study is a randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of a tablet-based intervention to promote safety behaviours among pregnant women.

Midwives recruit women who attend routine antenatal care. The intervention consists of a screening questionnaire for violence and information about violence and safety behaviours thru a short film/movie shown on a tablet. The materials are available in different languages to ensure participation of Norwegian, Urdu, Somali and English-speaking women.

researchersAngela Taft; in collaboration with Lena Henriksen, Mirjam Lukasse, Eva Marie Flaaten, Jeanette Angelshaug,Lisa Garnweidner-Holme, Milada Cvancarova Småstuen, Oslo Metropolitan University; Josef Noll, University of Oslo; Berit Schei, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
fundingNorwegian Research Council Grant