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Settlement Services International (SSI) is collaborating with the University of Wollongong (UOW) in a research project to identify and address domestic violence experienced by newly arrived refugee women.

Professor Jo Spangaro from UOW’s School of Health and Society is the lead researcher in the project, “Screening and responding to domestic violence experienced by refugee women”, which was awarded $442,364 funding through the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects scheme.

The ARC Linkage Project grants, announced by Federal Education Minister Mr Dan Tehan, are designed to bring university researchers together with industry partners to undertake research collaborations that will deliver benefits to the Australian community.

Refugee and other vulnerable migrant women are at elevated risk of not having domestic and family violence detected or disclosed, leading to significant stress, dangers and serious health effects.

Dr Astrid Perry, SSI’s Manager of Strategic Policy and one of the research investigators on the project, said, “This study will implement a model for identifying and responding to domestic violence with newly arrived refugee women.

“The proposed intervention will adapt and test family and domestic violence screening, risk assessment and safety planning tools along with individual support and case coordination.”

She said the project, over three years, would integrate research evidence on best practice domestic violence responses into service delivery with refugee women, producing results that would be transferable to other vulnerable migrant women who access settlement programs and other health and welfare services across Australia.

“This project has strong potential to support effective early intervention and prevention as well as to reduce death and serious long-term effects from domestic violence among vulnerable and hard-to-reach women and their children,” she said.

Professor Spangaro said, “Domestic violence is the leading contributor to premature death among Australian women, and costs Australia $22 billion each year, with refugee women at heightened risk.”

She said the project’s adaptation and testing of evidence-based intervention should reduce the human and financial cost of domestic violence among refugee and other vulnerable migrant women, providing tools to settlement services to address the complex, hidden problem.

Greg Benson, SSI’s General Manager Client Services and Operations, said, "Partnerships such as this are a useful way for researchers and people on the frontline to test new ways of working and learn from each other so that newly arrived women and children can build a new chapter of their lives in Australia in safety.

"SSI is committed to collaborating with researchers to build the evidence base for the work that we do."

Other participants in the project include University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, Auckland University of Technology, Settlement Council of Australia, Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Institute of Health And Welfare, South Western Sydney Local Health District, the NSW Ministry of Health, Family Planning NSW, and Domestic Violence NSW.

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