The PATRICIA Project: Pathways And Research In Collaborative Inter-Agency working

Project Summary

In recent years domestic and family violence referrals to child protection services have increased dramatically creating important interface issues between the two systems. This project explored the relationship between statutory child protection, family law, and community-based services that seek to support women and children exposed to domestic and family violence. There were five strands to the project: the State of Knowledge, Pathways, Case Studies, Perpetrator Accountability, and Action Research components.

Women’s pathways to service were examined using NSW, Western Australian and Victorian administrative datasets. The findings, together with an international scoping review on collaborative practice across child protection, family law and community-based services (the State of Knowledge), case studies of promising collaborative initiatives in five states, and analysis of interventions with perpetrators of domestic and family violence in the context of child protection (using a "case reading" process developed by David Mandel and Associates as part of the Safe and Together approach to building a domestic violence-informed child welfare system) were synthesised through a participatory action research process to strengthen the co-design of the service systems in the five participating states: New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia.

The intended project outcomes were to foster the use of evidence to enhance greater cross-sector collaboration to support women and their children and support stronger accountability for perpetrators of domestic abuse by strengthening the response to them in the context of child protection. The over-arching research question was: What are the elements that facilitate differential pathways and appropriate service system support for the safety and well-being of women and children living with and separating from family violence in an integrated intervention system?  The project was supported by an Advisory Group comprised of both government and non-government stakeholders.  


Principal chief investigators:

Professor Cathy Humphreys, Professor of Social Work, Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne.

Professor Marie Connolly, Department of Social Work, University of Melbourne.

Chief investigators and researchers:

Dr Lucy Healey, Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne.

Professor Aron Shlonsky, Professor of Evidence Informed Practice, University of Melbourne.

Jenn Ma, Researcher, University of Melbourne.

Dr Debbie Kirkwood, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRC).

Professor Donna Chung, Professor of Social Work, Curtin University.

Mr Damian Green, Research Associate, Curtin University.

Dr Lesley Laing, Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney.

Dr Susan Heward-Belle, Lecturer Social Work and Social Policy, University of Sydney.

Cherie Toivonen, Senior Researcher, University of Sydney.

Professor Ilan Katz, Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

Professor Patrick O’Leary, Professor of Social Work, Griffith University.

Dr Menka Tsantefski, Senior Lecturer, Griffith University.

Amy Young, Research Assistant, Griffith University.

Tracy Wilde, Researcher, Griffith University.

Professor Sarah Wendt, Professor of Social Work, Flinders University.

Dr Fiona Buchanan, Lecturers, University of South Australia. 

Research partners / Project Advisory Group:

Dr Michelle Macvean, Parenting Research Centre.

Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria.

Department of Family and Community Services, NSW.

Department for Child Protection and Family Support, WA.

Women’s Legal Service Victoria.

Women’s Legal Service NSW.

WA’s Women’s Council for Violence Against Women and Their Children.

Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency.

Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic).

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria.

No to Violence.


 The Collaborative Practice Framework for Child Protection and specialist domestic and family violence services: The PATRICIA project: Key findings and future directions

 PAThways and Research Into Collaborative Inter-Agency practice: Collaborative work across the child protection and specialist domestic and family violence interface: The PATRICIA Project. Final report

 The PATRICIA Project: PAThways in Research In Collaborative Inter-Agency working: State of knowledge paper


 The PATRICIA Project: Summary of the scoping review


 The PATRICIA Project: Summary of the Pathways component

 The PATRICIA Project: Summary of the Safe and Together case reading


ANROWS Inaugural National Research Conference 2016

 Download PATRICIA Project slides Cathy Humphreys.pdf (2.42 MB)

Estimated end date: 
This project was completed June 2017.