The project – to examine the parenting styles of men who have used violence in their families – is led nationally by the University of Melbourne and also includes the University of South Australia’s Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP).
The $1.2m Australian Research Council Linkage project will see the three universities working together with nearly 20 partner organisations, including three State Governments, to identify fathering issues.
The research will help develop standards for interventions by practitioners who work with men involved in family violence.
UWA’s Winthrop Professor Donna Chung said men needed to be aware of how their behaviour impacted on their children’s development and well-being, both within the family and in the social world.
“Being the biological father of a child doesn’t mean that you know instinctively how to best parent your children, especially in situations where violence and abuse is being perpetrated by the father,” she said.
“Children are human beings who absorb and make meaning of what is going on around them from a very young age.”
Professor Chung said fathers having contact with their children was not always positive where children were fearful and felt unsafe due to past experiences of violence and fear. Instead, it could be damaging, and it was important for researchers to find out what could promote resilience and self-esteem for children who had been living with domestic violence in the home.