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  • Author or Editor: Cathy Humphreys x
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The volume of research being conducted into domestic and family violence is increasing, yet knowledge translation in this area lags behind other fields such as healthcare. Little is known about how to effectively harness and implement research findings in the ‘real world’, and there continue to be barriers to the use of rigorous research to inform government policy. In this paper, we explore key areas where the translation of domestic and family violence research into practice could be improved in Australia, as well as highlighting the challenges. We then suggest some recommendations for how these might be overcome.

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Public inquiries in the child welfare field are employed as a mechanism to bring attention to policy and practice issues and soothe public concerns at failures in the care and protection of children. The paper addresses the question of whether the inquiry is a worthwhile arena for researchers who wish to see their findings used to inform policy. The paper draws on the Victorian Inquiry into Vulnerable Children and the Northern Territory inquiries into child abuse to inform the discussion. Our conclusions are that the inquiry mode, whilst unpredictable is too important a public policy tool for researchers to ignore.

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Introduction: Research networks undertake work collaboratively on complex areas of research. Few studies examine how these networks develop their knowledge translation activity. Focusing on a domestic violence research network (DVRN), the aim of this study was to answer the question: What is the shared understanding of knowledge translation and activity in a domestic violence research network?

Methods: A sample of DVRN members undertook an anonymous online survey about their knowledge translation activity.

Results: Completed by 49 of a potential 65 DVRN members (75% completion rate), findings suggested members use multiple knowledge translation definitions, and that different stages of the research process engage people with lived-experience and policymakers undertaking lower levels of engagement than practitioners. Innovative engagement mechanisms to communicate research findings were limited, and knowledge translation barriers included budget, time, capacity, limitation of models, organisational emphasis and support. Finally, there was inadequate knowledge translation evaluation.

Conclusion: Overcoming knowledge translation barriers is essential to ensure meaningful collaboration particularly with survivors who are often the missing voice of knowledge translation. Future studies could determine what impact, if any, increasing engagement of survivors and policymakers during all stages of the research process has on knowledge translation.

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Health professionals play a critical role in responding to the health consequences of domestic and family violence (DFV). However, health professional women themselves experience high rates of DFV and there is scant evidence underpinning hospital workplace responses. The aim of this Australian research was to explore the views of survivor health professional women and their managers about the role of the hospital workplace in responding to survivor staff. A ‘combined methodological approach’ encompassed open-ended survey questions to survivor health professionals about workplace experiences and support needs. Managers participated in an interview about the employment response. Thematic analysis of survivor staff (n=93) and manager (n=18) data identified three themes: (a) Understand that DFV affects staff, (b) Support for staff is essential and (c) Challenges of establishing a safe workplace. Survivors wanted understanding about how trauma had affected them, and managers recognised that staff were exposed to potentially triggering patient narratives of abuse. Both groups believed that formal resources and support were essential, including managers trained to respond sensitively to disclosures of DFV. However, challenges to creating an environment where staff felt emotionally and physically safe were identified. A trauma and violence informed hospital response could promote recovery for survivor staff and patients.

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‘Whole family’ interventions for families living with domestic violence and abuse (DVA) are emerging and some international practice examples are available. This study reports a process evaluation of a pilot delivered in Northern England that aimed to work with all members of families experiencing DVA. The evaluation involved analysis of detailed accounts of practice from learning logs and case workbooks as well as interviews with practitioners and family members. The voluntary nature of families’ involvement with the pilot, together with an explicit service philosophy of ‘meeting families where they are at’ appeared successful in engaging families. Pilot staff worked flexibly, seeing family members together and separately, but there was evidence of lower levels of confidence in work with perpetrators. Co-work enabled skills to be transferred to other professionals and social workers increased their use of risk assessment tools in DVA cases. However, there was uncertainty as to whether interagency communication improved across local agencies, and joint protocols and tools were slow to develop. This study is one of the first evaluations of ‘whole family’ interventions in DVA, and it illustrates how, when additional resources and organisational support are made available, a non-blaming approach that families find engaging can be developed.

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Many women who experience intimate partner violence are left with significant and long-lasting mental health effects resulting in survivors seeking help from psychologists. However, the voices of women who have sought such help are mostly absent in research. To address this gap, we interviewed 20 women survivors of intimate partner violence about their experiences when seeing psychologists. We analysed this data thematically and developed two main themes relating to women’s experiences of psychologists after intimate partner violence. These themes were: mirroring abuse or being supportive and it did me quite a bit of damage. Our research suggests that these women experienced suboptimal mental healthcare after intimate partner violence and that the effects of this were not neutral but were damaging. Positive experiences suggested that these women appreciated practices aligned with feminist and trauma and violence-informed approaches. This study fills in some details about women’s experiences, which can be used to further inform trauma and violence-informed approaches.

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There is limited research on how knowledge translation of a domestic violence (DV) research network is shared. This lack of research is problematic because of the complexity of establishing a research network, encompassing diverse disciplines, methods, and focus of study potentially impacting how knowledge translation functions.

Aims and objectives:

To address the limited research, we completed a deliberative dialogue with the following questions: Is there a consensus regarding a coherent knowledge translation framework for a domestic violence research network? What are the key actions that a domestic violence research network could take to enhance knowledge translation?


Deliberative dialogue is a group process that blends research and practice to identify potential actions. In total, 16 participants attended three deliberative dialogue meetings. We applied a qualitative analysis to the data to identify the key actions.


The deliberative dialogue facilitated mutual agreement regarding four key actions: (1) agreement on a knowledge translation approach; (2) active promotion of dedicated leadership within an authorising environment; (3) development of sustainable partnerships through capacity building and collaboration, particularly with DV survivors; and (4) employment of multiple strategies applying different kinds of evidence for diverse purposes and emerging populations.

Discussion and conclusions:

The use of the deliberative dialogue has uncovered specific factors required for the successful knowledge translation of domestic violence research. These factors have been added to the Integrated Knowledge Translation (IKT) capacity framework to enhance its application for domestic violence research. Future research could explore these organisational, professional and individual factors further by evaluating them in practice.

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Domestic violence poses a threat to the health, safety and wellbeing of women internationally and is associated with a range of physical injuries, chronic mental and physical health issues and death. In recognition of the serious consequences and to guide the allocation of resources, multiple countries have invested in efforts to measure domestic violence risk. This study aimed to determine whether there was an existing validated risk assessment tool with an actuarial element, or a common set of evidence-based risk factors that could be implemented in Victoria, Australia. A tool was sought which would effectively predict risk of severity, lethality and re-assault and support risk management strategies. The tool needed to be suitable for administration by a variety of professionals. Through an audit and analysis of existing tools, the study found an absence of universal standards or guidance for weighting actuarial tools and clear insight into how risk assessments currently inform risk management practice and multidisciplinary responses. However, the literature provides clarity around the key evidence-based risk factors that most commonly form a validated tool for adult victim survivors. The evidence was less definitive in terms of assessing risk of lethality and re-assault for children and young people.

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Governments across Australia are struggling to address escalating child protection notifications, increasing numbers of children in state care, decreasing numbers of foster carers and chronic child welfare workforce shortages. The complex social problem of child abuse and neglect has a high media profile, and policy reform in such a politicised domain poses many challenges. What role does research play in the process of child protection policy development? Using recent child protection reform in South Australia as a case study, this paper analyses primary documentary sources and in-depth interviews with key actors to explore this issue.

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A crisis creates a time when normal problem-solving mechanisms are thrown into disarray. The COVID-19 pandemic plunged individuals and service systems into crisis. While recognising the destructive impact on health and well-being for those involved, the aim of this study was to explore opportunities for change created during a crisis, addressing the question: What has been learnt under COVID-19 about delivering domestic abuse services to perpetrators in the UK and Australia? Documentary analysis (31 documents reviewed in Australia, and 180 searched and analysed in the UK) and interviews (24 interviews with practitioners and policy and practice leads in the UK, and 11 interviews, and one focus group in Australia) were used to explore innovations in responses to perpetrators. Two key shifts in the delivery of services to men who use violence were identified: the pivot to remote delivery; and the emergence of interventions to provide accommodation and support for perpetrators. The study demonstrated that the policy window could open at a time of crisis to support innovative developments. Early evaluations highlighted positive developments. However, further research is needed to understand more fully the implications for safety and accountability.

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