Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Evidence Review


Commissioned by Respect Victoria for the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum
Conducted by Urbis in partnership with Karen Milward
Date May 2023


Aboriginal people – especially women and children – experience high rates of and impacts from family violence. Family violence is not and never has been a part of Aboriginal culture. The ongoing impacts of colonisation and systemic racism intersect with the gendered drivers of violence, increasing the severity and disproportionate impact of family violence on Aboriginal peoples.

Preventing violence against Aboriginal peoples works best when led by Aboriginal communities. The purpose of this research was to document available evidence on effective First Nations-led prevention. It looked at what works best, and where there are gaps in our knowledge. The research reviewed evidence across Victoria and Australia, as well as New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

The report was prepared for the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum. Dhelk Dja connects Aboriginal community members to the Victorian Government, so that they can address family violence issues together.

Key findings

Evidence regarding effective prevention of Aboriginal family violence is still emerging:

  • While there is limited documented evidence related to primary prevention of Aboriginal family violence, there is valuable prevention knowledge held within communities. 
  • There is a growing focus on knowledge translation and collaborative research to address these gaps and turn research findings into practical actions.

Common features of effective First Nations prevention approaches identified in the review include:    

  • Holistic, involving the whole family
  • Designed and delivered by the community
  • Cultural strengthening and reconnection to Aboriginal culture
  • Strengths-based
  • Engaging men and boys

Certain enablers were identified as supporting effective First Nations prevention approaches, including:

  • Long-term funding 
  • Strengthening workforce capacity 
  • Culturally safe service delivery
  • Ongoing investment in monitoring and evaluation

The report identifies several barriers to effective prevention approaches in First Nations communities. These included challenges for communities and implementing agencies in accessing data and evidence collected through research and monitoring and evaluation conducted by non-Aboriginal people or people outside the community. They also included the ways that funding and partnerships with government or other prevention agencies were structured, such that there was inadequate attention to self-determination. 

Read the report