Research and Publications

FDV and perpetrator intervention

Below is a collection of the latest research and publications on family and domestic violence and perpetrator intervention.

Where possible we have included links to full reports or to a webpage which provide the opportunity to purchase the publications.

Perpetrator Intervention

This paper utilises a systematic review of English language peer-reviewed studies on MBCP’s and a jurisdictional review of community based MBCP sectors across Australia and New Zealand. Clarity on each jurisdiction was gained through a review of grey literature and interviews/contact with jurisdictional representatives. This paper highlights the origins of practice standards for Mens Behaviour Change Programs and discusses the implications of standards on practice. An overview of MBCP practice standards across WA, VIC, NSW, QLD and New Zealand is provided to highlight similarities in the development of MBCP practice across the jurisdictions. The aim of this paper is to promote discussion around current approaches to intervention and standards of practice. Access the article.

This study uses in-depth qualitative analysis to understand reoffender’s perspectives of recidivist events and their experiences of IPV treatment in order to identify areas of improvement and enhance program effectiveness and reduce recidivism. 3 categories for program improvement were identified as modality, content and participant specific variables. Modality-specific variables included offering more flexible treatment approaches; decreasing elements of group ineffectiveness and bolstering elements of group effectiveness. Content-specific variables included barriers to skills acquisition and application. Participant-specific variables included participants engagement with treatment, motivation for change, intentions to use skills, expectations of treatment and cognitive flexibility. Participant motivation and engagement are recognised as crucial for positive treatment outcomes. These factors could be improved by providing flexible treatment approaches which are considered relevant to the participants and enhancing skills training in areas which participants indicate difficulties. This study highlights the value and of gaining feedback from AIP participants for program improvement, reducing recidivism and enhancing the safety and wellbeing of survivors. Access the article.

Primary Prevention and Early Intervention

Using an online survey, this study collected data from a global sample of 319 men who had attended Gender Based Violence prevention events and focused on (a) assessing men’s perceptions of what topics were covered, (b) determining whether profiles of these perceptions could be identified, and (c) describing the degree to which content perception profiles are associated with levels of men’s motivation and confidence related to anti-violence action. Findings identified the three most reported topics covered at events as; abuse in relationships; sexual assault and gender roles. Four perception profiles of prevention topics where identified and the heterogeneity of content at prevention events globally was noted. Furthermore, the Type of event did not clearly inform pathways of motivation for engaging in prevention work, and men’s confidence increased with understanding and decreased when action was expected. Access the article.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Using a scoping review, this paper examines the available literature relating to Aboriginal men’s programs specifically addressing family violence in order to extend current knowledge and understanding. With a focus on Australia, New Zealand and Canada, three broad themes were outlined as ‘contributing factors to family violence and impacts of colonisation’, ‘program structure and design’, and ‘evidence and perceived effectiveness’. Findings highlight that programs targeted towards Aboriginal men need to address the multiple power constructs that exist. Colonial power continues to have a significant impact on Aboriginal communities’ social and emotional wellbeing and is argued to be a contributing factor to family violence. Findings also suggest that a greater understanding of multidimensional and holistic approaches will better inform policy, programs and practices. Futhermore, it is highlighted that there is a need for more in depth evaluations of Aboriginal men’s programs in order to build an understanding of what works in the prevention of family violence. Access the article

This article reports on Western Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are currently in prison, and their use and experience of violence. Women reported histories of victimisation and trauma and responded to their experiences and circumstances with violence. Reasons for using violence provided by women included: a lack of strategies for dealing with their situations non-violently; the feeling that it was no one else’s business; fear; poor police responses on previous occasions; and a lack of access to, and awareness of support and other services in their communities. Key findings revealed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in prison are overwhelmingly victims of violence and frequently reported the use of violence as a strategy for dealing with their own high levels of victimisation. Violence was described as a constant and common experience putting women at high risk of arrest and incarceration. Further, a widespread mistrust of the criminal justice system and associated agencies was discussed in addition to a lack of appropriate and suitable options for community support. Access the article


Using a mixed methodological approach, this research project aimed to develop evidence-based guidelines to increase workforce capacity in responding to fathers who use DFV, and strengthen the Australian evidence base for the Safe & Together approach. The research identified a number of key factors for practitioners working with fathers who use violence and control; key factors in partnering with women, key skills in ensuring a focus on children and young people; and the role of organisations and practitioner capacity building. These themes were used to structure practice guidelines. The use of the Safe & Together Framework helped practitioners to realise that partnering with the non-offending parent and retaining a focus on the child were of equal importance. Changes to practice within an organisation required support from senior management to be implemented and a cultural shift from both management and staff on the ground to champion these changes. Read the full report here. Or access the practice guide here.

This summary is designed for practitioners and policy-makers who want to know more about ANROWS’s research on domestic and family violence (DFV) in Australia. The information has been collated primarily from research projects funded by ANROWS in 2014 and published in 2017. It is not intended to be a comprehensive report on research related to children and violence. The summary outlines the major issues identified in the ANROWS research relevant to children, the factors preventing effective service delivery and the policy and practice changes recommended by the researchers. It concludes with future research directions. Access the paper.

This study explored the experiences and practices of fathering with Australian men participating in a FDV behaviour change program in Sydney. Qualitative and quantitative data were gathered from interviews with 17 fathers from culturally and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds. Findings revealed that men’s fathering was diverse and posed significant and varied risks to women and children. Men reported the use of multiple tactics involving physical and sexual violence, with fifty-nine percent reporting that children had witnessed or been present during the use of violence, aggression, destruction of property and threats to their mothers. Two key themes are outlined; identification with hegemonic masculinity and perceived levels of control over their use of FDV. The author developed a heuristic model based on these two themes demonstrating the findings of complex and nuanced variation between attitudes, behaviours, fathering experiences, and fathering practices. A shift in practices which currently focus on women and their mothering practices is called for whilst the need for policies and practices which account for the various harms and violence perpetrated by men, in addition to their needs is required. The need for development of policies and practices which attend to the lived experience of women and children and the distinct consequences of the harm they have been subjected to are also emphasised by the author. Access the article

Models and Evaluations

Ormston, R., Mullholland, C., & Setterfield, L. (2016). Caledonian System evaluation: Analysis of a program for tackling domestic abuse in Scotland. Crime and Justice, Government of Scotland. Retrieved 27/1/17 from

An Australian first, this state of knowledge paper maps the pathways and interventions for perpetrators of domestic/family violence and sexual assault through civil and criminal legal systems; and examines the responses and service systems currently available to DFV and sexual assault perpetrators in each jurisdiction. The paper finds there is a need for extensive further research on what works and for whom in the Australian context. Four key areas for further investigation were identified: 1) systems effectiveness; 2) effectiveness of interventions; 3) models to address diversity of perpetrators; and 4) interventions developed by, with, and for Indigenous communities. Retrieved from Perpetrator interventions in Australia: Part one – Literature review. State of knowledge paper Perpetrator interventions in Australia: Part two – Perpetrator pathways and mapping. State of knowledge paper

This report offers a national perspective of trends and developments ranging from the systemic level to daily practice, to stimulate discussion and action about the next steps needed to build perpetrator intervention systems which will strengthen existing FDV efforts and MBCPs within that system. Access the paper.

This discussion paper outlines the current situation around Outcomes in Mens Behaviour Change Work and highlights some of the relevant work currently being done which helps towards the development of an outcomes framework. The paper scopes out some of the pertinent issues involved in the development of a framework, to encourage critical thinking and reflection. Access the paper.

Opinions Pieces

The Royal Commission into Family Violence: Implications for WA. Angela Hartwig Abstract: In the lead up to the next state election in Western Australia (WA), a coalition of organisations is calling on the next Western Australian Government to commit to improving the systems that are meant to keep victims of family and domestic violence safe. The Safe Systems Campaign (SSC), launched in March 2016 – one year out from the next state election, calls on all political parties to consider their policies and responses to dealing with violence against women and children. This campaign has come in the wake of the findings of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence (RCFV); and the Victorian Government’s commitment to fund all 227 recommendations. Retrieved from;dn=143285993201155;res=IELFSC;type=pdf Visit the website to purchase full copy PDF

System Responses to FDV

This article examined accounts of 54 front line professionals involved in providing services to women and children who experience domestic violence. In doing this, it was identified a number of gender-biased institutional practices that parallel the tactics deployed by domestically violent men in the private sphere. This study uses the Power and Control Wheel framework as an analytic tool to explore the institutional policies and practices that mirror the tactics used by perpetrators of domestic violence, which compound and perpetuate the harm and oppression of women and children survivors. Access the article.

Drawing on repeat victimisation studies, and analysing police data on domestic violence incidents, the current study examined the prevalence and correlates of short-term reoffending. The results showed that a significant proportion of offenders reoffended in the weeks and months following a domestic violence incident. Individuals who reoffended more quickly were more likely to be involved in multiple incidents in a short period of time. Offenders with a history of domestic violence—particularly more frequent offending—and of breaching violence orders were more likely to reoffend. Most importantly, the risk of reoffending was cumulative, increasing with each subsequent incident. The findings have important implications for police and other frontline agencies responding to domestic violence, demonstrating the importance of targeted, timely and graduated responses. Access the Paper.

Breaches of family violence intervention orders are one of the fastest growing criminal offences in Victoria. Understanding who breaches, and why, is important for agencies that are committed to improving victim safety and holding perpetrators to account. View document

This study researched the implementation of a code of practice used to respond to family and domestic violence (FDV) incidents in Victoria, Australia. 125 police sergeants and constables were interviewed about how they understood and applied discretion and compulsion in relation to FDV, in addition to the role of training and supervision maintaining consistent operational practice. Data derived from interviews was supported by quantitative data from the police database showing how police responses to FDV incidents have changed in recent years following reforms to policing and court policy and practice. The study highlights discretion and compulsion in policing FDV as a frequently cited dilemma for police forces. The authors conclude that restricted and guided discretion may be required to attain optimal effectiveness in policing responses to FDV. Access the article

This cross-national study examined police officer attitudes about FDV through comparison of USA and Australian officers. The study also explored police attitudes about FDV using a gender based lens to identify attitudinal patterns among male and female officers, and how these attitudes differed between USA and Australian officers. An Australian survey was used which included a qualitative component. Findings suggest that male and female police officers attitudes in each country are more similar than different, however when comparing the overall sample, American and Australian officer attitudes significantly differ in half of the areas explored. The majority of officers who completed the survey believe that FDV calls relate to verbal arguments, however they did believe that FDV should be addressed by police. Results support existing evidence suggesting that repeat calls, time and resources used by FDV incidents presents a concern for officers. Equally concerning for police officers is the risk of being injured while responding to FDV which was a consistent finding across jurisdictions. These findings should be interpreted with caution as the Australian survey in particular had a low response rate. The authors conclude that this work provides a basis for understanding and developing innovative law enforcement responses to DV while arguing that offices attitudes require consideration and integration given their attitudes and actions will influence future interventions. Access the article

Substance Use

NDLERF Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia (ADIVA) Final Report, Miller, Cox, Costa, Richelle, Mayshak, Walker, Hyder, Tonner and Day, 2016. Alcohol/Drug-Involved Family Violence in Australia (ADIVA) primarily sought to determine the relationships between alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and family and domestic violence (FDV) in the general population. The project also investigated the role that demographic, social and environmental factors play in the occurrence and severity of FDV, and the major trends in FDV in relation to incidents attended by police across the states and territories of Australia. View the report


The Abuse of Technology in Domestic Violence and Stalking. Woodlock, D. This article focuses on an emerging trend in the context of domestic violence–the use of technology to facilitate stalking and other forms of abuse. Surveys with 152 domestic violence advocates and 46 victims shows that technology–including phones, tablets, computers and social networking websites–is commonly used in intimate partner stalking. Technology was used to create a sense of the perpetrator’s omnipresence, and to isolate, punish and humiliate domestic violence victims. Perpetrators also threatened to share sexualized content online to humiliate victims. Technology-facilitated stalking needs to be treated as a serious offence, and effective practice, policy and legal responses must be developed. Read the article

Women who use force

Legislative reforms were enacted in Victoria in 2005 which provided an increased, contextual understanding to family violence required to be considered in cases where women were found to murder their intimate partner. This article investigates the impact of these reforms on legal responses to women charged with murder for killing their intimate partner. This research found that the reforms had limited impact on practice which is attributed to embedded misconceptions held by legal professionals surrounding family violence and how women come to kill a partner. The authors conclude with recommendations for specialised training to be implemented for legal professionals, in addition to the use of research and evidence to inform practice. It is hoped that this will ensure women’s claims of self-defence are validated by appropriate responses in the Victorian legal system. Access the article

Government Publications and National Reports

The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network Data Report 2018 provides data on intimate partner homicides that have occurred across Australia between 2010 and 2014. The data outlined in this report was captured through a retrospective population-based case series which examined the deaths of people who were killed by their current or former intimate partner following a history of domestic violence. The review presents quantitative data findings on; gender distribution of IPV homicides in Australia, histories of domestic violence in IPV homicides across Australia, relationship characteristics of IPV homicides in Australia (including separation as a characteristic of IPV homicide), current family law proceedings, current Domestic Violence Orders, court outcomes for IPV homicide offenders and demographic information of both IPV homicide victims and homicide offenders. Access the report here.

Family, domestic and sexual violence is a major health and welfare issue. It occurs across all ages, and all socioeconomic and demographic groups, but predominantly affects women and children. This report explores the latest data available to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare on family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia. It brings together information from multiple sources on victims and perpetrators and on the causes, impacts and outcomes of violence. Gathering this information highlights notable data gaps which, if filled, could strengthen the evidence base and support the prevention and reduction of family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia. This report explores what family and domestic violence is, who is at risk and how it is experienced. It outlines the impacts, outcomes and current responses to FDV, providing a focus on Indigenous experiences of family violence and highlights the gaps that exist in the data available. Access the report here.

The NCAS is the world’s longest running survey of community attitudes towards violence against women. Tracking the changing attitudes of Australians since 1995, the last two surveys were released in 2009 and 2013. The 2017 NCAS collected information through mobile and landline telephone interviews with a representative sample of 17,500 Australians aged 16 years and over. The survey focused on finding out about people’s knowledge and attitudes of violence against women and gender equality and bystander intentions if witnessing violence or disrespect against women. Composite measures were used in the NCAS to measure overall understanding and attitudinal support, measure change in overall concepts over time, find out how widely supported particular attitudinal concepts are held; explore factors that are related to knowledge, attitudes and action; and explore relationships between concepts. Despite an overall positive trend in understandings of and attitudes about violence against women and gender equality, the research shows that many Australians also believe some common myths. Access full report here, or to read the summary findings click here.

Other FDV Research

This report draws attention to the wellbeing considerations for Victorian practitioners working remotely to support people experiencing and using violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides critical insights into how practitioners can be supported remotely to do this incredibly challenging yet crucial work. As Victoria moves through the easing of restrictions and attempts to achieve a COVID-normal working environment in the midst of a global health crisis, the findings presented here are vital for understanding the wellbeing supports required to ensure effective and sustainable practice for family violence practitioners. The increased prevalence and risk of family violence during this period necessitates that we do everything possible to ensure that the wellbeing of practitioners working to respond to those experiencing and using family violence is supported as they provide vital services to the Victorian community.

View the report here. 

Robust population level prevalence studies provide evidence that domestic and family violence (DFV) is a common problem in Australia (see for example Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017; Cussen & Bryant, 2015). However, evidence is equivocal as to whether prevalence is higher or lower in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities (which includes refugee communities), compared to the broader Australian population (see for example Cox, 2015; Ghafournia, 2011). Additionally, where data are available, prevalence among refugee-background women is often not delineated from that among the broader category of “CALD women”. Despite the absence of reliable prevalence data, there is an emerging literature regarding refugee women’s experiences of DFV (see for example Grossman & Lundy, 2007; Mouzos & Makkai, 2004) including post-settlement in Australia (El-Murr, 2018; Fisher, 2009, 2013, 2015).

View the report here.

Identifying the difference between generalist and specialist family perpetrators; Crime Statistics Agency The Crime Statistics Agency has today released its eighth ‘in brief’ paper, which looks at the characteristics that are associated with a family violence perpetrator being a generalist (i.e. recorded for non-family offences in addition to family violence incidents) rather than a specialist (i.e. only recorded for family violence incidents and related offences) perpetrator. The paper examines the recorded family violence incident and non-family violence offending histories for a cohort of family violence perpetrators over a five year period from 2012 to 2016. It examines: what proportion of family violence perpetrators are generalists rather than specialists the perpetrator and incident characteristics associated with being a generalist rather than a specialist. View the report

A rapidly expanding natural-resource extraction industry and a growing military presence mean an increasingly male-skewed population for the city of Darwin, Australia. This has sparked concerns about the potential for increased violence against women. In this article, we present qualitative research detailing the views of 13 participants from 10 women’s support services in the Darwin area. We argue that women’s support services bear witness to and are tasked with responding to the impacts of population change on women, yet their work is undermined by uncertainties that stem from neoliberal funding rationales and limited demands on companies to address social issues. Abstract retrieved from Access the full article online

This qualitative study involved interviews with 15 family physicians exploring their interactions with male FDV perpetrators. Themes derived from the interviews included: how the physician identified FDV perpetration by men, which often involved disclosure by the victim and sometimes disclosure from the perpetrator; how comorbidities were assessed or how physicians responded to perpetrators of FDV and; facilitators and barriers to physicians’ ability to identify and respond to male perpetrators. Facilitating factors included trusting relationships with the perpetrator in addition to the availability of support services. Barriers involved negative emotions and inadequate training. Overall, physicians reported feeling underprepared to work effectively with FDV perpetrators, particularly when the victim was also under their care. The development of training and additional research exploring the role physicians play in responding the FDV perpetrators is called for. Access the article

The aim of this study were to build on the knowledge of trauma exposure and traumatic stress symptoms linking to elevated risks for FDV perpetration. The study examined how trauma exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and diagnosis, and PTSD symptom associations present in male FDV perpetrators. The sample included male perpetrators accessing a community agency who completed an assessment related to trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms, depression, alcohol and substance use, relationship issues, perpetration of physical violence, aggression, injury, sexual coercion and general violence. Findings reveal that 77% of participants reported trauma exposure and 62% reported experiences of multiple traumas. It is concluded that trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms should be routinely assessed in FDV interventions and research is needed to explore the ways in which PTSD symptoms impact intervention outcomes, in addition to the use of trauma-informed interventions for male FDV perpetrators. Access the article

This study reports on findings from an evaluation of a pilot program delivered in Northern England focussed on working will all members of families experiencing FDV. The research involved analysis of practice accounts such as case workbooks, in addition to interviews with practitioners and family members. Flexibility of practitioner’s practice, in addition to working with family members separately and together was reported. Findings revealed practitioners have a limited confidence working with the perpetrators of FDV. Working partnership with other professionals allowed for the translation of different skills among professionals. There was an increased use of risk assessment tools, however interagency collaboration improvements was unclear and shared protocols and tools were slow to develop. The authors argue that this ‘whole of family’ intervention demonstrates that with additional resources and organisational support, a non-blaming approach can be developed and is found to be useful to engage families. Access the article

This qualitative study examined factors that initiate and facilitate primary desistance from perpetrating intimate partner violence. Male perpetrators including those who identified as ‘persisters’ and ‘desisters’, female survivors, and program facilitators from England were interviewed. Change was described as transpiring following a number of catalysts or stimuli of change, rather than separate and distinct incidents. These catalysts are identified as triggers which included negative consequences of violence, and accumulation of negative emotional responses to enable the point of resolve. The pint of resolve was described as an autonomous decision to change finally being realised. These trigger facilitated and instigated change and desistance form the use of violence against intimate partners. The authors conclude that additional research should be conducted in the area of understanding social and individual contextual factors, readiness for change and motivation as this will improve understandings of triggers that will initiate change. Access the article

This cross-cultural control study investigated the effectiveness of the Integrated Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP), a group intervention for male perpetrators of FDV. 340 convicted FDV offenders who had commenced the IDAP in a Swedish prison and probation service from 2004 to 2007 were compared with a control groups of current convicted male FDV offenders. Reconviction data was obtained from the National Crime Register and both the research and control group were followed until March 2011 for an average of 4.6 years. It was found that plausible reductions in violence recidivism as a result of IDAP were minimal and difficult to affirm statistically. This research echoes findings from a systematic review of IDAP’s limited impact on continued use of violence and urges for the development of improved FDV interventions. The authors conclude that the limited evidence base for effective treatments of FDV interventions highlights the need for the development and evaluation of improved interventions which require an increased knowledge of FDV specific causal risk factors and more significant treatment combinations. Access the article