Developing and testing new models of support for both the perpetrators and victims of domestic and family violence (DFV) within LGBTIQ* relationships is the aim of a new collaborative research project.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) today released details of a $1.8 million program of research to improve the evidence base for stopping violence against women.

Included in the program is a joint project between Relationships Australia NSW and NSW LGBTIQ health organisation ACON that will explore if elements of programs used by Relationships Australia NSW for non-LGBTIQ clients can be adapted to work for LGBTIQ clients.

The models include therapeutic groups for perpetrators of DFV which aim to help them change their patterns of abusive behaviour. The project will also explore and evaluate new support structures for survivors of LGBTIQ DFV.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill says by addressing key gaps in current evidence relating to LGBTIQ relationships, the project aims to reduce reoffending, better understand why perpetrators abuse their partners, and determine what makes an effective perpetrator intervention program. “While LGBTIQ people are just as likely as women in the non-LGBTIQ population to experience DFV, there are some unique aspects experienced by LGBTIQ people,” Mr Parkhill says. For example:

• Perpetrators can threaten to ‘out’ someone to their family, friends, community or workplace. Outing can include someone’s gender, sexuality, intersex status or HIV status.
• Female perpetrators can gain access to the safe housing being used by their female partner, there are no safe houses for male victims and most DFV support services are not transgender and intersex inclusive.
• LGBTIQ perpetrators and victims often don’t understand that their dynamic is abusive partly because DFV is only ever discussed as a non-LGBTIQ issue.

“We’re very grateful to receive this funding from ANROWS and look forward to seeing the outcomes of this research that will be crucial in our efforts to addressing this issue within our communities,” Mr Parkhill says.

Elisabeth Shaw, Relationships Australia NSW’s EGM of Clinical Services says the project will help deliver important outcomes for LGBTIQ people and communities. “The joint project will utilise the extensive counselling and support framework of Relationships Australia’s Family Safety Program and combine that with ACON’s experience and expertise in LGBTIQ health to develop a contemporary and much more effective response to DFV in LGBTIQ communities,” Ms Shaw says.

ANROWS CEO Dr Heather Nancarrow said ensuring domestic and family violence perpetrator interventions are effective for diverse groups is vital to the achieving a significant and sustained reduction in the rates of violence against women. “We must not assume that standard perpetrator interventions are appropriate or can be readily adapted to the contexts in which violence in LGBTIQ communities occurs,” said Dr Nancarrow.

“I commend this research collaboration between ACON and Relationships Australia, which will examine current models and expand the evidence base for practice.”

More information about the project is available here:

If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic and family violence you can contact ACON on (02) 9206 2000 or find out more about our range of counselling and DFV support services at or

You can also call the Safe at Home Family Violence Response and Referral Line on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, always call 000.


ENDS | *LGBTIQ = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer

For more information please contact:

David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications Officer

E:   T: +61 (02) 9206 2044   M: +61 (0)428 477 042

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