Cutting-edge research to better understand, prevent and control violence

The Violence Research and Prevention Program has a number of world class scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds undertaking research on different types and dimensions of violence.

Key topic areas of research expertise include:

  • youth violence
  • family violence
  • child abuse and protection
  • pathways to violence and life course studies
  • victimisation studies
  • violence in Indigenous communities
  • drugs and violence, alcohol and violence
  • sexual violence
  • intimate partner and family violences
  • school and workplace bullying
  • effective violence prevention, including programs to address violent offending.

Intimate Partner Femicide in Australia: A victim-centred exploration

In Australia, most women who become homicide victims are killed by current or former intimate partners (such as their husband/de facto or boyfriend). This highlights the need for improved prevention efforts focussed on reducing this form of extreme violence against women.  However, victim-focussed research about intimate partner femicide (IPF) is scarce, and - for sadly obvious reasons - IPF victims’ perspectives are not incorporated into existing research. This project seeks to explore the characteristics and life-course of IPF victims, across multiple domains including behavioural, psychological, and environmental/situational, as well as victims’ perceptions of risk and help-seeking. The goal of the study is to understand how women at risk of experiencing lethal violence can be better supported, in order to reduce the occurrence of IPF in the future.

To do this, we are undertaking in-depth interviews with families and close friends who have lost a loved one to IPF. We are also interviewing families and close friends of women who have experienced non-lethal intimate partner violence (IPV). This will allow us to compare the experiences of those two groups of women and identify whether there are particular aspects of IPF victimisation, relative to IPV victimisation, that may help in better identifying women who are at especially high risk of being killed.


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How does victim/survivor advocacy influence policy? Exploring intersections between advocacy, media, and politics

From the Morcombe family to Rosie Batty, the voices of those who have been directly impacted by serious violent crimes have long been recognised as a powerful force for driving policy change. However, the different ways in which 'lived experience advocacy' can influence decision-making at all stages of the policy process remain largely opaque within both research and public discourse.  This leaves unanswered questions such as:
*What motivates victim/survivors to engage in advocacy, and what are their expectations about this?
*Why do journalists 'choose' particular victim/survivors and how do they approach working with those people? What are their aims in doing so?
*What constitutes a 'positive' outcome of lived experience advocacy for the many different parties who are involved in the policy process?
*How do different parties' understandings, objectives, and agendas interact? What tensions are created and how are these negotiated?
*What are the benefits and drawbacks of lived experience advocacy, from each of those parties' different perspectives?
The research will explore how, why, and when ‘lived experience advocacy’ by victim/survivors of serious violent crime influences policy.  It will provide better understanding about the complex interactions and dynamics between advocates, media, and decision-makers, and enhance knowledge about policy formulation in this challenging context.

Contact: Dr Samara McPhedran

The Australian Homicide Project

Intimate partner violence represents a serious public health and safety issue in Australia and places a significant burden on justice, health and economic systems. A major area of concern is the escalation from minor to serious violence and homicides by intimate partners. Current knowledge suggests that there are possible points of intervention where lethal violence can be averted if risk factors and escalation scenarios were better understood. Furthermore, there is a need to advance knowledge of the causes of intimate partner homicide and other forms of homicide by assessing the perceptions, attitudes, beliefs and motivations of offenders who perpetrate these offences. This study addresses this gap in knowledge to elucidate amendable risk factors of homicide.

Contact: Dr Li Eriksson

Testing theoretical propositions concerning the onset and progression of child-sex offending, and field testing a new sexual abuse prevention model

This project aims to map the development, onset and progression of youth sexual violence and abuse by investigating developmental pathways, sexual offence situations and offending trajectories of adolescent sexual offenders. The methodology and analysis will focus on addressing questions of theoretical and applied significance concerning the prevention of sexual violence and abuse. Outcomes are expected to inform strategies for reducing the prevalence of sexual abuse-related dispositions and vulnerabilities among youth, creating healthier and safer social environments for women and children, and the development of evidenced-base policy and practice for police, youth justice, adult corrections, child protection, and victim services.


Place-based prevention of youth sexual violence and abuse

Funded by the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet, this project aims to investigate the extent and origins of youth sexual violence and abuse at two sites in Far North Queensland—a remote Aboriginal community and a suburban area of a major regional centre and based on an analysis of findings, to devise locally-tailored preventative strategies. The project will apply a solution-focused, problem solving approach, drawing mainly on the theoretical and applied prevention framework developed by Smallbone, Marshall and Wortley (2008; see also Wortley & Smallbone, 2006; Smallbone & Cale, in press).


Preventing youth sexual violence and abuse: 'Realist' implementation and evaluation at two sites

This project is funded by the Australian Government's Indigenous Justice Program. It involves the design, implementation and evaluation of a suite of individual, ecological and situational interventions focused on reducing the prevalence and impacts of youth sexual violence in two Queensland communities. The project involves an international consortium of leading researchers and practitioners, led by Griffith University. International partners include University College London Department of Security and Crime Science, and the Lucy Faithful Foundation (UK).


Violence in Paradise: The physical, social and perceived environments in a beachside entertainment district

The research presented in this thesis examines the features of the physical, social and perceived environments that facilitate or inhibit the occurrence of crime, violence, intoxication and injuries in nightclub districts, using Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia as a case study. Five primary research questions are addressed: (1) What are the environmental dynamics of alcohol-related violence and injuries in the Surfers Paradise district? (2) How do data contributions made by agencies other than police affect our understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of alcohol-related violence and injuries? (3) How has the introduction of the 3am lockout affected the spatial and temporal distribution of alcohol-related violence and injuries as reported by the agencies contributing to the database? (4) How do bar users perceive social and physical environmental cues in entertainment venues? And (5) do the perceptions of bar fight participants differ from those of non-participants? These questions have been addressed through two studies that are underpinned by a conceptual model that highlights key environmental factors suggested by environmental criminology and environmental psychology. Routine activity theory is the main theory that frames the research.

Contact: Professor Ross Homel

An exploration of midwives' understanding and experiences of antenatal questioning relating to intimate partner violence against women during pregnancy

Contact: Dr Kathleen Baird

National domestic violence training pack for the use of health professionals

Funded by the Department of Health.

Contact: Dr Kathleen Baird

Research study evaluation of a drama-based intervention 'Every Three Days'

A multi-agency training tool to facilitate multi-agencies working in domestic violence to assist in the introduction of routine enquiry into domestic violence.

Contact: Dr Kathleen Baird

Sustaining a reduction of violence in the licensed environment

Aggression and violence in and around drinking establishments remains a significant problem in most parts of the world, especially as the night-time economy expands. In a new monograph, Raising the Bar (2008), Kate Graham and Ross Homel comprehensively reviewed what is known about the causes of aggression in bars, clubs and pubs, drawing to a considerable extent on their own research over the past 20 years. They concluded that while there were some promising approaches there was little scientifically reliable evidence to guide policy.  Nor, despite these promising approaches, was there evidence of sustainable reductions of violence in licensed environments. The challenge therefore to the field, appeared to be twofold. First, could a model be developed that was capable of reducing alcohol related violence, and of sustaining those reductions long term? Secondly, could a scientifically defensible research design be developed and operationalised, which could test such a model in a number of different settings, thereby indicating the flexibility of the model while also maintaining experimental and scientific rigour? The Project intends to meet both these challenges, by developing a rigorous long-term meta-experiment to test a comprehensive prevention model in a variety of licensed environments.  The project proposes to do this over two phases: Phase 1 as a research design period and Phase 2 as a trial period.

Contact: Professor Ross Homel

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