Research agenda and program

Effective research and evaluation help us understand where we can focus and improve our reform delivery.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence acknowledged significant gaps in the family violence evidence base, including how systems and services that prevent and respond to family violence are working. Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s plan for change outlined government’s commitment to developing a robust evidence base to inform decision making.

A strong and effective family violence evidence base is key to delivering long-term, sustainable reform of our family violence system.

Collectively the research agenda and program will support the whole of government approach to research on family violence and sexual violence and harm, across primary prevention, early intervention and crisis and recovery responses. It will also complement monitoring and evaluation, outcomes measurement and monitoring and data development activities underway across government, as detailed in the Family Violence Reform Rolling Action Plan 2020-23.

  • The Victorian family violence research agenda articulates government’s research priorities and is intended to inform strategic decision making and reform delivery
  • The research program will detail how government will work with Victorian universities, the sector and industry to deliver research under this agenda.

Research Agenda

Victoria’s first-ever Family Violence Research Agenda 2021-2024 will build on what we know is working and focus our efforts on research activities that fill gaps in our evidence base across prevention, early intervention and response.

The seven high-level research priorities are:

  • Primary prevention
  • Children and young people as victim survivors in their own right
  • Family violence as experienced by Aboriginal people and communities
  • Family violence as experienced by people from diverse communities
  • Sexual violence and harm
  • Adolescent family violence
  • Perpetrators and people who use violence

Research delivered under this research agenda will contribute to the broader research and evaluation program.

Family Safety Victoria Research Program

A robust evidence base is key to delivering effective solutions to prevent and respond to family violence. High quality research evidence helps us to understand what works, what requires adjustment, and what gaps remain in the evidence base to target our ongoing research efforts.

In February 2022 the whole of Victorian Government Family Violence Research Agenda 2021-24 (the Research Agenda) was released. The Research Agenda articulates the Victorian Government’s research priorities and provides a focus point for research commissioned by the Victorian Government to be initiated by universities, the sector or industry partners.

The Research Program 2021-24 (Research Program) is Family Safety’s Victoria’s (FSV) approach to deliver on the Research Agenda. It sets out how FSV will work with universities, industry, and the sector to deliver research aligned to the Research Agenda.

Phase 1 of the Program opened in March 2022 and 13 projects were confirmed in August 2022.

Phase 2 of the Program is now open for applications.

What we aim to achieve

A strong and effective family violence research program is key to delivering long-term, sustainable reform of our family violence system. It shows us what is working, what needs to be adjusted, and where to focus our efforts for the greatest impact and effect. Four focus areas articulate government’s commitment to developing a robust evidence base to inform decision making.

Focus area 1: Augment and build the evidence base on Family Violence

It is critical that we continue to build the evidence base on family violence to ensure government, sector and the community benefit from high quality knowledge and the delivery of effective interventions that improve outcomes.

FSV will work closely with researchers and the sector to focus research topics on gaps in our current knowledge and seek to fund new research that builds the evidence base for interventions to victim survivors and perpetrators.

Focus area 2: Translate evidence into practice

Applying rigorous evidence into practice is crucial to ensure service delivery results in long-lasting, positive change for our clients, victim survivors, perpetrators and those who use violence. Effective knowledge translation means being able to use research findings to tailor policy, practice and programs to meet our clients’ needs.

Family Safety Victoria will:

  • identify the support necessary for research uptake and embed this support into the way we fund our research
  • ensure that high-quality, relevant, new and existing research from around the world is translated into readily implementable policy, practice and program actions.

Focus area 3: foster collaboration between government, academia, sector-based organisations and the community to break down knowledge silos

Connecting the academic expertise of researchers with the practical experience of family violence practitioners and the lived expertise of victim survivors, will support the application of research findings to policy and practice. We have specified that as a requirement of our research grants process, applications require partnerships between researchers and sector-based organisations.

We will also foster collaboration and dialogue between researchers, policymakers and family violence practitioners through:

  • research
  • educational programs
  • events
  • the development of appropriate guidance materials and written and digital resources.

This will accelerate the translation of research into practice.

As part of our approach, we will ensure lived experience is ethically and safely embedded into the Research Program.

Focus area 4: Ensure government can make evidence-based decisions and recommendations

In order to perform our leadership role in progressing family violence in Victoria, it is critical that Family Safety Victoria has the best possible evidence to inform policy decisions and recommendations. We will also ensure this evidence is embedded across all the work that Family Safety Victoria does.

Research mechanisms

A range of mechanisms is required to achieve the goals of the Research Agenda and deliver the Research Program. The 5 mechanisms below have been proposed with consideration of prioritisation of research needs and directly targeting investment at those areas of highest need. FSV has also considered that research findings need to be timely and be able to directly influence government policy development. Finally, delivery must be underpinned by the creation of opportunities for knowledge transfer and skill development for government, sector staff and researchers through mechanisms that are able to provide for cross-pollination of ideas.

Mechanism 1: Research Grants

Targeted research grants offer an opportunity to fund stand-alone, well-conceived projects that are aligned with the research priorities included the Research Agenda. Partnering with organisations via a competitive grants process is an efficient and cost-effective way to commission and produce high-quality research addressing key evidence gaps.

As part of the Research Program, there will be a series of competitive, open, merit-based grants rounds.

Mechanism 2: Graduate Student Programs (PhDs, Masters, Internships)

Student programs, including short-term internships and longer-term PhD programs, provide a valuable pathway to garnering in-depth information on a specific research topic. As part of the Research Program, we will look to explore opportunities for projects delivered by students and early career researchers. Investment in projects and working with people whose career aims to improve the lives of people affected by family violence, aligns with the Victorian Government’s aspirations of building Victoria’s family violence workforce capacity and capability.

Mechanism 3: Partnerships

Research outcomes are strengthened through robust partnerships. The Research Program will be underpinned by strong partnerships, lines of dialogue and working relationships across various sectors. Working collaboratively with research teams and practitioner organisations encourages a two-way flow of policy and practice ideas between research and government. This

  • ensures that government stays up to date with emerging research
  • builds government’s profile as an engaged supporter of knowledge hubs
  • establishes a strong feed-through mechanism for the Research Agenda’s priorities into the academic sphere.

Mechanism 4: Procurement

Procurement is an important government spending tool and in the context of research, a useful means by which to purchase expert and timely research. It may also be relevant in the context of establishing infrastructure (such as digital tools to enable research dissemination or support a research clearinghouse function) to facilitate knowledge exchange and translation.

Mechanism 5: Research Working Group

Buy-in from the sector, universities, government and those with lived experience of family violence is key to building and delivering a thriving family violence Research Program. It is also critical to ensuring a shared approach to research, and that efforts across Victorian Government are integrated.

A Research Working Group will be established to:

  • strengthen partnerships between government, universities, and sector-based organisations with an interest in research
  • support a shared and consistent approach, wherever possible
  • leverage policy and practitioner insights to identify key research topics for the Phase 2 Research Program
  • explore best practice approaches to knowledge translation with the primary purpose of enabling application, replication, or transfer of available knowledge
  • ensure lived experience is ethically and safely embedded into the Research Program.

The Research Working Group will also ensure a consistent focus on ethical research practices.