Family Violence

We have several research studies examining the issue of family  violence. Across these studies are several guiding principles for our work:

  • To promote women and children living free from violence
  • Develop research collaboratively with researchers, clinicians, service providers and the community
  • Studies must leave women, children and the community better off
  • Processes must support Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Current research studies

Family violence poses a significant health risk for people in Aotearoa New Zealand and has been identified as a priority issue for Māori. Health consequences of family violence occur across the life span. As those who experience violence seek health care more often than individuals who have not experienced abuse, healthcare professionals are well-placed to intervene in family violence before it reaches crisis point.

Dedicated Health System Violence Intervention Programme Evaluation page

Project Atawhai is the culmination of a significant body of knowledge and learning about health system responses to violence within whānau. The whakapapa of this research includes many people, places, events and narratives that have contributed to the pathway forward.

Visit the project website

Tailoring and deploying a web-based safety decision tool for women experiencing domestic violence during COVID-19

Past research studies

Healthy relationships mean healthy whānau and whakapapa. Ano te pai te āhuareka, ā te nohonga tahi o te ira tāne me te ira wāhine.

Visit the project website

The 'isafe study' tested an interactive internet based tool for women who live in unsafe and abusive relationships with their intimate partner. The research team evaluated whether the intervention improved women's safety decisions, negative mental health consequences and helped to prevent further abuse.

isafe website

The Women In Safe Environments (WISE) project was launched in February 2006. This three year research project was funded by the Health Research Council (NZ) and sponsored by Interdisciplinary Trauma Research Unit at Auckland University of Technology. The interdisciplinary team of investigators included Associate Professor Jane Koziol-McLain and Drs Janet Fanslow, Emma Davies and Ian Hassall.

The WISE project team joined with women and young persons to explore whether health providers can increase women and children's safety and reduce the negative health effects of violence in the home. Violence in the home is a significant health issue for far too many women in Aotearoa and affects physical, mental, family and spiritual health.

The efficacy of the emergency department brief intimate partner violence screening intervention was tested in a randomised trial. Among the 344 women, 44 (12.8%) reported intimate partner violence during the 3-month follow-up period: 24 of 177 (13.6.%) among women in the usual care group and 20 of 167 (12.0%) among women in the treatment group. Full trial results were published in Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2010;56:413-423.

For more information on family violence visit the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse at

Other Interdisciplinary Trauma Research Unit projects are outlined on the AUT website: Master of Health Practice in Violence and Trauma Studies

Wise project team

  • Principal Investigator: Jane Koziol-McLain, PhD, RN
    Associate Professor, School of Nursing, AUT
    Ph: (09) 921 9760
  • Co- Investigator: Janet Fanslow, PhD
    Senior Research Fellow, School of Population Health (University of Auckland)
    Ph: (09) 373 7599 Ext 86907
  • Co- Investigator: Dr Emma Davies
    Institute of Public Policy (AUT)
    Ph: (09) 921 9999 Ext 8408]
  • Co- Investigator: Dr Ian Hassall, MB, FRACP, DCH.
    Senior Researcher, Child and Family Programme, Institute of Public Policy (AUT)
    Ph: (09) 921 9999 Ext 8466
  • Project Manager: Vivien Lovell
  • Project Leader (Northland Young Persons): Terry Dobbs
  • Project Leader (Auckland): Maria Rameka
  • Project Leader (Northland): Susan da Silva

The overall goal of this educational technology project  was to provide an effective teaching resource that enable healthcare  workers in Aotearoa New Zealand to screen and intervene in the case of  intimate partner violence in order to prevent injuries, illness and  death. The new product directly addresses the knowledge and skills that  are essential for healthcare workers in Aotearoa New Zealand to fulfil  their role as partner violence victim advocates in a safe and  confidential manner.

The needs of women who are abused by their partners are multiple and  complex, including economic, legal, psychological and physical health  needs. This complexity includes effects of violence exposure on  children and whanau. Yet few health care providers have been adequately  trained to identify abused women. More often than not telltale signs  and symptoms go unperceived or dismissed and a woman is obliged to  return to an unsafe home. This occurs not only because of misdiagnosed  symptoms, but also because intimate partner violence is still largely  viewed as a personal matter.

Society in general, as well as health care providers, largely regard  intimate partner violence from a wholly subjective perspective and, if  not properly trained, may even blame the women for her misfortune  instead of realizing the complexity of her situation and offering help.  Without education, healthcare workers are likely to provide medical  treatment without ever recognizing the underlying dynamics of family  violence. Working against effective training is the stress and time  constraints induced by the fast paced healthcare environment and  limited resources. To simplify the complexities of training healthcare  workers, the electronic medium may be a cost efficient and effective  means of providing intimate partner violence education.

This project was possible by an educational technology grant from AUT and was completed in 2004. The workforce development framework is an online training programme and available here:

This New Zealand programme for emergency nurses on screening and intervening in the case of intimate partner violence:

Additional resources

Working group

  • Jane Koziol-McLain, PhD, RN, Associate Professor AUT (Project Leader)
  • Lynne Giddings, PhD, RGON, RM, Associate Professor AUT
  • Helen Curreen,  MA, Senior Lecturer AUT
  • Maria Rameka, BSc, RGON, Principal Lecturer, AUT
  • Denise Wilson, MA, RGON, Senior Lecturer, Massey University Wellington

Get in touch

If you have any questions regarding our research or would like to participate, please get in touch with us.

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