Listening for (a) change

Identifying strategies for preventing family violence through dialogical research with women with refugee backgrounds

Women with refugee and refugee-like backgrounds (including asylum seekers) report similar, and additional, forms of family violence to non-immigrant Australian women. Women with refugee backgrounds face numerous barriers to seeking help when experiencing family violence, and there are few examples of prevention or early intervention programs for refugee communities in Australia (Vaughan et al. 2015).

Efforts to prevent family violence against refugee women must be grounded in the complex circumstances of their lives. To be effective, prevention interventions must be sensitive to the diverse ways people with refugee backgrounds may talk about family violence, to community members’ difficult experiences with Australian bureaucratic systems, and to the complex dynamics within families and communities arising from migration and resettlement. Particular effort is required to include refugee women’s perspectives in forums where prevention interventions and policies are developed.  Therefore, this participatory action research project will work with women with refugee backgrounds to:

  • increase understanding of their perspectives on effective approaches to the prevention of family violence in refugee communities
  • identify their priorities for family violence prevention and early intervention
  • build women’s capacity to confidently share their experiences and priorities in diverse decision-making forums
  • create opportunities to support refugee women’s leadership in the prevention of family violence.

In addition to amplifying participant voice, the project will bring refugee women together with policy-makers and practitioners to facilitate responsive listening and inform family violence prevention policy and practice.

Research Team

  • Cathy Vaughan, chief investigator from Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Karen Block, collaborating researcher from Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Jasmin Chen, external partner from Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Australia
  • Erin Davis, collaborating researcher from Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Odette Kelada, collaborating researcher from the School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Ana Dragojlovic, collaborating research from Gender Studies, Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • Joumanah El Matra, external partner from Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, Australia
  • Adele Murdolo, external partner from Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Australia
  • Regina Quiazon, external partner from Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Australia
  • Deb Warr, collaborating researcher from Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Australia

Vaughan C., Davis E., Murdolo A. et al 2015.Promoting community-led responses to violence against immigrant and refugee women in metropolitan and regional Australia: The ASPIRE project state of knowledge paper. Sydney: Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.