Sexual Abuse and Family Violence: SAFE

Research Overview

Sexual Abuse and Family ViolencE (SAFE)

Our Program aims to improve the safety, health and wellbeing of women, families and communities through addressing abuse and violence. Our multidisciplinary team works across family and domestic violence, sexual violence and unwanted sexual encounters. Using mixed methods, the focus has been on links between violence and health; development and testing of interventions for screening early intervention and responses for women, children, young people and men, including the use of technologies. The SAFE Program is affiliated with the Melbourne Research Alliance to End Violence Against Women and their Children (MAEVe), an interdisciplinary network of researchers across The University of Melbourne.

The Program’s objectives are to:

  • explore the definition, prevalence, risk factors and natural history of abuse and violence across the lifecycle;
  • understand the physical and psychological consequences of abuse and violence for families;
  • explore experiences of abuse and violence among the health workforce;
  • develop and evaluate
    • educational interventions at undergraduate and postgraduate levels;
    • screening, early intervention and therapeutic responses to assist families where abuse and violence is occurring;
    • innovative responses using new technologies for women and men to access
  • work collaboratively with community groups, survivors, local, state and national governments and professional bodies;
  • promote knowledge exchange and provide research evidence to inform policy and practice.


Professor Kelsey Hegarty, Program Leader
Dr Laura Tarzia, Deputy Lead
Ms Simone Gleeson, Research Coordinator
Dr Rhian Parker, Academic Convenor, MAEVe
Ms Kitty Novy, Recruitment Coordinator
Ms Alexandra Wilson, Research Support Officer
Dr Gemma McKibbin, Research Fellow 
Dr Amelia Lee, Research Fellow


  • Melbourne Alliance to End Violence Against Women and their Children (MAEVe)
  • The Royal Women’s Hospital
  • Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
  • Berry Street Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
  • Drummond Street
  • Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre
  • No to Violence
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • World Health Organisation
  • Nexus Primary Health Care
  • Women’s Health in the North
  • La Trobe University
  • Deakin University
  • Bristol University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University College London