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Liz Banks-Anderson

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Improving the welfare and parenting, particularly fathering, of children in homes where there is domestic violence is the focus of a new project led by the University of Melbourne. 

The research project ‘Fathering, family and domestic violence and intervention challenges’ will examine how men who have used violence in their families are parenting and will help to develop standards for interventions by practitioners who work with men in situations of family violence.

The project draws together researchers from the University of Western Australia and the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia.

Lead researcher Professor Cathy Humphreys, Alfred Felton Chair of Child and Family Social Work at the University of Melbourne Department of Social Work says domestic and family violence is a major social problem in Australia.

“One in four children is affected by domestic and family violence.“

“Children are traumatised by living with domestic and family violence. Many children experience adverse effects on their behaviour and emotional and cognitive development as a result of living in fear. This project will address ways of intervening so we can do something about the lives of children,” she said. 

The research project aims to play a crucial role in developing a centralised and coordinated approach to interventions into domestic and family violence.

“We’ll be looking at and getting perspectives from program providers, from men who are involved in different programs within the aboriginal sectors, fathers and will be getting the perspectives of women and children.”

Professor Humphreys says the way in which we are working to support the parenting of fathers who have used domestic or family violence has been fragmented and varied. 

“This project will establish some consensus and guidelines about what standards should be used and developed in intervention approaches,” she said.

Collaborators include the Victorian, Western Australia and South Australia State governments and 20 non-government organisations.