About the project

From 2018-20, MCWH was proud to partner with University of Melbourne to deliver a Participatory Action Research project called 'Faith Communities Supporting Healthy Family Relationships.'

The project was established by the Multifaith Advisory Group (MAG) based on recommendations 163 and 165 of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, and funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet's Multicultural Affairs Unit.

Multifaith Evidence Guide cover

How did the project make a difference?

Family and domestic violence is a serious moral and spiritual concern that is primarily driven by  gender inequality and other negative attitudes towards women. Faith and spiritual leaders play a key role in shaping community attitudes and behaviours and preventing violence against women.

Faith leaders are also often the first people survivors of domestic violence turn to for guidance and support before or instead of secular domestic violence services. However, there are many reasons why they may feel limited in their capacity to respond appropriately to family violence.

Building the capacity of faith leaders is critical in raising awareness about the issue of family violence within faith communities.

Watch this short video on the need to invest in faith leaders as potential partners in preventing violence against women.

What did the project involve?

STEP 1: Looking at the evidence about what works for faith communities preventing violence

The project collected current evidence about best, promising and emerging practices to build the capacity of faith-based organisations, communities and leaders to effectively prevent and respond to family violence and violence against women.

Our Technical Paper provides evidence about best, promising and emerging practices to build the capacity of faith-based organisations, faith communities and, especially, faith leaders to effectively prevent and respond to family violence and violence against women.

Our Evidence Guide and Tip Sheet distill the key principles of effective work in faith settings for prevention and response to violence against women.


STEP 2: Turning the evidence into action and learning more about what works in practice for faith communities preventing violence

The second part of the project involved supporting and evaluating what worked for five different faith groups as they planned and undertook their own projects to build the capacity of their faith leaders to respond to and prevent violence.

MCWH ran a Community of Practice for the five groups throughout the project, to share their experiences, support and learn from one another.

Our project partners

The groups that participated were from five faith communities:

  • Anglican Diocese
  • Uniting Church
  • Buddhist community
  • Sikh community
  • Multifaith approach (Faith Communities Council of Victoria)

University of Melbourne Research Publications

As part of the Faith Communities Supporting Health Family Relationships project, the University of Melbourne produced a Technical Paper, Evidence Guide and Key Lessons Report based on evaluation of the project. You can access the Research Publications connected with this Project on the University of Melbourne School of Population Health website.

MCWH would like to thank all the partners and participants involved in this Participatory Research Action projec, including our Project Officer Monisha Sandhu. We are particularly grateful to our funders and the Research Team at University of Melbourne: Associate Professor Cathy Vaughan, Erin Davis, Dr. Lila Moosad and Claire Sullivan.

Key Lessons and Recommendations

The Key Lessons Report is important for Policy Makers and Faith Organisations working to Prevent Violence Against Women.

The Report is presented according to nine key principles, how they were implemented and key lessons found through project evaluation.

Principle 1: Prioritise safety 
Principle 2: Strengthen relationships with the specialist sector

Principle 3: Co-design and co-deliver initiatives

Principle 4: Promote gender equality

Principle 5: Anticipate and address resistance
Principle 6: Recognise intersectionality
Principle 7: Multi-faceted approaches to capacity building
Principle 8: Engage senior leadership
Principle 9: Build the evidence base

Read the Key Lessons Report