Previous research projects
In partnership with the Monash University Centre for Health Research and Implementation, we continued researching our MBCPs and published a joint rapid review in a leading international family violence journal, Trauma, Violence & Abuse on the content, implementation and impacts of MBCPs internationally.
Following an MBCP, men reported significant improvements in their belief to be able to manage stressful times; understanding of the impact of their use of violence; and their skills to repair the impact of their use of violence on their partner/former partner, children and family members. In relation to their children’s needs and feelings, and the impact of their violence on children, however, responses from men indicated that further attention is needed on how to deliver MBCPs that promote the safety, development and wellbeing of children.
The research has resulted in recommendations for current and future attention on the further development of MBCPs, staff engagement and additional research into the impact of the programs.
The RA FDR Outcomes Study, which was jointly led by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) and Relationships Australia Queensland (RAQ), was completed in the 2019/20 financial year. RAV led the property component of this national study, which involved collecting survey data at multiple points in time from 1,695 clients across Australia. Interviews with 200 of these clients generated evidence on the outcomes of RA FDR services in both parenting and property disputes. Several peer-reviewed papers were also published in the Australian Journal of Family Law, Family Court Review and the Australasian Dispute Resolution Journal.
In late 2018, Relationships Australia released research entitled ‘Is Australia experiencing an epidemic of loneliness?’ which identifies which Australians are most likely to feel lonely and socially isolated, and when. The research, which is based on the findings from 16 waves of Household Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia survey data from 2001-2016, reveals that one in 10 Australians lack social support and one in six is experiencing emotional loneliness.
Our collaborative relationship with Victoria University continued in 2019/20 as a study of the use and misuse of communication technologies in post-separation parenting. This year, we completed the first phase of this project, which was a prevalence survey of separated parents attending RAV’s FRCs about their use of 11 different kinds of technology including email, SMS, instant messenger, social networking sites, online learning and video calls.
Our Kew Centre participated in a nationwide Department of Social Services Data Exchange Client Survey pilot project, designed to independently measure outcomes for, and satisfaction of, clients in core, funded services, through online client surveys. Responses and feedback from the My Service, My Story pilot project — including relating to survey content, client engagement and organisational resourcing — will inform the implementation of a longer-term evaluation project.
We have partnered with Swinburne University of Technology to investigate loneliness in older adults in residential aged care and community settings, through the university's Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults. The project seeks to better understand the prevalence of loneliness, and the predictors of loneliness and emotional wellbeing among older adults. The project's findings will assist counsellors and other health professionals to develop more specific interventions to prevent the negative health consequences associated with loneliness.
Through our membership of the Partnership of Victorian Family Relationship Centres, we participated in an FDR Outcome Measurement Trial, funded by the Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Social Services. The pilot project aimed to identify or develop a tool that measures the parenting outcomes of FDR, such as the development of parenting plans, increased parental awareness of the impact of conflict on children and a reduced need for litigation or the involvement of lawyers.
In 2016/17, we engaged with RMIT's Centre for Innovative Justice to undertake research on perpetrator interventions in the criminal justice system. This research will help the sector to better understand and establish an evidence base for interventions with men who use violence.
Relationships Australia conducts regular research projects, partners with universities and has run surveys throughout the year on topics of relevance to our clients and all Australians.
Australian Research Council (ARC) projects
RAV has been involved in major projects funded by the ARC, reaffirming our commitment to research to better inform our clinical practice and service delivery.
We partnered with high-profile academics at the Australian National University and colleagues at Relationships Australia Canberra and Region, to apply for an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. The proposed study, which would run for two years, aims to examine the role and effectiveness of separation-related smartphone apps in supporting families to respond to the many challenges of post-separation co-parenting. This project was successfully funded and the 2-year project commenced in the 2020/21 financial year (see current research).
The outcomes of our four-year study with La Trobe University, funded by the Australian Research Council, into the impact of family violence on the FDR process has been disseminated and discussed, including through the publication of a peer-reviewed research paper in the Australian Institute of Family Studies Family Matters journal.
The research has attracted international interest, including from academic institutions and policymakers, and it continues to influence models of practice for working with clients affected by family violence.
We were one of 23 government and non-government organisations that took part in the Australian Research Council-funded research project, led by the University of Melbourne and also involving researchers from the universities of South Australia and Western Australia. The project is designed to enhance knowledge of the interface between family violence and fathering, and improve the parenting experience of children whose fathers have used family violence.
RAV has completed a 3-year research project with La Trobe University to investigate the long-term benefits of couple counselling and our Good Connecting relationship education course. In addition to producing better outcomes for our clients, this significant study will have national and international impact upon the practice of couple counselling and relationship education.
In partnership with Swinburne University, we researched the systemic, organisational and individual factors that optimise or impede effective collaboration. The research aimed to develop evidence-based guidelines for achieving effective collaboration, and the identification of knowledge gaps and areas for future research.
In partnership with Victoria University, and with support from their Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, we completed research into the effect of social media engagement on relationship satisfaction in 2016. The findings illustrated that relationship satisfaction is impacted by how, rather than how often, social media is used.
We undertook a literature review into the most current research on the efficacy of MBCPs. Preliminary results indicate the importance of holistic service delivery approaches in facilitating ongoing behaviour change in men. This review forms the foundation of a significant wider research project to evaluate the effectiveness of MBCPs, led by RAV and involving Relationships Australia South Australia and Relationships Australia Western Australia.
The 5-year study examined same-sex parenting and children's outcomes and was a collaboration between Relationships Australia National, Relationships Australia Victoria, the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and The Bouverie Centre.
The results of the project helped to inform practices and the sector to provide improved culturally appropriate services to same-sex and transgender parent client groups. The project was run in partnership with RA National, the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and The Bouverie Centre, and involved a longitudinal survey and two qualitative studies focusing on the health and wellbeing of parents.
In 2011, Relationships Australia National surveyed the population to find out what the main issues and concerns that Australians had in their relationships at the time.
View the results of the 2011 survey, undertaken in partnership with Credit Union Australia and conducted by Woolcott Research across Australia.
RAV partnered with primary schools, kindergartens and maternal and child health centres to run programs for fathers and children called Fathers Utilising Networks for Kids (FUN for Kids). These programs allowed fathers to examine their parenting styles, establish networks, have more effective communication with their kids, share with other dads and have fun. FUN for Kids is not currently being run.
The Potter Foundation funded an independent evaluation of the program by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS). The final report indicates some very positive outcomes for dads, partners, children and communities.