Our annual Outcomes Survey measures how our counselling services affect our clients' wellbeing, family and relationships. In 2017 the survey, which involved voluntary client participants who had recently attended at least one counselling session with RAV, indicated positive service outcomes.
We evaluated our funded counselling, family dispute resolution (FDR) and Family Relationship Centre services in 2017 through Standard Client Outcomes Reporting (SCORE). Evaluations from over 10000 clients indicated that overwhelmingly, these services support clients to feel listened to and understand, and work on and talk about what is important to them. Clients also reported significant satisfaction with the services provided.
In 2016/17, we conducted a preliminary evaluation of our Repair-enting group program for dads who have used violence in their relationships. The evaluation was designed to measure the program's effectiveness in enhancing the insight, empathy and ability of parents who had used violence to relate safely. The results indicated significant positive changes in parents' skills and knowledge, including their capacity to emotionally regulate, ability to recognise their child's needs, understanding of the impact of violence on their child, and knowledge of how to safely engage with their child and their child's mother.
Our Repair-enting program has gained emerging program status on the Communities for Children Facilitating Partners Evidence-based Programme list with the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Our I like, like you UP family violence prevention and mental health promotion program for primary schools also gained emerging program status on the Communities for Children Facilitating Partners Evidence-based Programme list with the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Our evaluation of the program, which involved consultations with teachers and students, indicated that the program increased participants' ability to understand their own and others' feelings, and their knowledge of how to communicate in healthy ways.
"As a result of learning these things, I will listen to my feelings more often and I will investigate other people's feelings as well. I know I will ask for help if I have a problem." - I like, like you UP participant.
A 15-month evaluation of our Family Mental Health Support Service revealed that i-Connect clients experienced positive changes in areas relating to personal and family safety, family functioning, mental health, wellbeing and self-care, after engaging with the service. After accessing i-Connect services, clients also had increased skills, knowledge and access to information, and enhanced knowledge in making decisions. The evaluation also indicated that the service is successful in meeting longer-term goals, including enhancing family wellbeing and resilience, and improving community engagement for at-risk or vulnerable families.
Relationships Australia has released new research entitled Is Australia experiencing an epidemic of loneliness? which identifies which Australians are most likely to feel lonely and socially isolated, and when. The research, which is based on the findings from 16 waves of Household Income and Labour Dynamics of Australia survey data from 2001-2016, reveals that one in 10 Australians lack social support and one in six is experiencing emotional loneliness. Click here to read the full report.
In 2016/17, our Kew Centre participated in a nationwide Department of Social Services Data Exchange Client Survey pilot project, designed to independently measure outcomes for, and satisfaction of, clients in core, funded services, through online client surveys. Responses and feedback from the project will inform the implementation of a longer-term evaluation project.
In 2018/19, we continued our participation in the Relationships Australia FDR Outcomes Study. The national research project is designed to generate evidence on the outcomes and efficacy of Relationships Australia’s FDR services, in relation to both parenting and property disputes, with RAV leading the property component of the study.
The study has employed a longitudinal survey design, with quantitative data collected through surveys
of over 1700 clients at multiple points in time, in addition to 200 interviews with a sub-sample of participants to further investigate experiences and perceptions of the dispute resolution process.
A detailed analysis of both the quantitative and the qualitative data demonstrates that there is sound evidence of the efficacy of FDR provided through the Relationships Australia federation. The research demonstrates that our FDR services assist separating couples to not only reach agreements in parenting and property disputes, but also reduce their distress, improve their adjustment to separation and facilitate communication with each other outside FDR sessions.
Participants of the study highlighted the skills and qualities of the mediator in remaining issue-focused, managing emotions and conflict, and showing compassion and sensitivity while remaining impartial.
Results of the study’s preliminary findings were presented at the 2019 National Conciliation Conference and the study’s final results will be published in peer-reviewed journals.
The RA FDR Outcomes Study is jointly managed by RA Victoria and RA Queensland. If you would like more information about the study, please contact:
Dr Genevieve Heard
Relationships Australia Victoria
Ph: (03) 8573 2222 or email
Dr Aditi Lohan
Senior Research Officer
Relationships Australia Queensland
Ph: (07) 3423 6904 or email
Through our membership of the Partnership of Victorian Family Relationship Centres, RAV is participating in an FDR Outcome Measurement Trial, funded by the Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Social Services. The pilot project seeks to identify or develop a tool that measures the parenting outcomes of FDR, such as the development of parenting plans, increased parental awareness of the impact of conflict on children and a reduced need for litigation or the involvement of lawyers.
In 2016/17, we engaged with RMIT's Centre for Innovative Justice to undertake research on perpetrator interventions in the criminal justice system. This research will help the sector to better understand and establish an evidence base for interventions with men who use violence.
With Victoria University, we are conducting a research project on the use and abuse of social media by couples and within families who are separating or separated. The research will help inform practice and policy recommendations to maximise the benefits of social media while minimising the opportunities for misuse.
We are one of 23 government and non-government organisations taking part in the Australian Research Council-funded four-year research project, led by the University of Melbourne and also involving researchers from the universities of South Australia and Western Australia. The project's ultimate aim is to improve the parenting experience of children whose fathers have used domestic and family violence.
The outcomes of our four-year study with La Trobe University, funded by the Australian Research Council, into the impact of family violence on the FDR process has been disseminated and discussed, including through the publication of a peer-reviewed research paper in the Australian Institute of Family Studies Family Matters journal.
The research has attracted international interest, including from academic institutions and policy-makers, and it continues to influence models of practice for working with clients affected by family violence.
We have partnered with Swinburne University of Technology to investigate loneliness in older adults in residential aged care and community settings, through the university's Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults. The project seeks to better understand the prevalence of loneliness, and the predictors of loneliness and emotional wellbeing among older adults. The project's findings will assist counsellors and other health professionals to develop more specific interventions to prevent the negative health consequences associated with loneliness.
Each month Relationships Australia conducts an online survey to capture the Australians' views and opinions on relationship, social and current community issues and concerns. The survey is accessed via the Relationships Australia National website and the Relationships Australia Victoria website homepage. Summaries of survey results on the Relationships Australia National website.
RAV has been involved in major projects funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), reaffirming our commitment to research to better inform our clinical practice and service delivery.
RAV has completed a three-year research project with La Trobe University to investigate the long-term benefits of couple counselling and our Good Connecting relationship education course. In addition to producing better outcomes for our clients, this significant study will have national and international impact upon the practice of couple counselling and relationship education.
The Work, Love and Play in Diverse Australian Family Life project ran in partnership with with Relationships Australia National, the University of Melbourne, La Trobe University and The Bouverie Centre.
The five-year study examined same-sex parenting and children's outcomes. It provides a broad and in-depth examination of a variety of factors that can impact on child outcomes: how parents balance their working commitments and domestic arrangements; characteristics and quality of the parents' relationship and how they parent together; and the family's social, financial and practical resources and social networks.
We researched the systemic, organisational and individual factors that optimise or impede effective collaboration. The research aimed to develop evidence-based guidelines for achieving effective collaboration, and the identification of knowledge gaps and areas for future research.
In partnership with Victoria University, and with support from their Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, we completed research into the effect of social media engagement on relationship satisfaction in 2016. The findings illustrated that relationship satisfaction is impacted by how, rather than how often, social media is used.
In 2016, we undertook a literature review into the most current research on the efficacy of MBCPs. This review forms the foundation of a significant wider research project to evaluate the effectiveness of MBCPs, led by RAV and involving Relationships Australia South Australia and Relationships Australia Western Australia.
In 2011, Relationships Australia National surveyed the population to find out what the main issues and concerns that Australians had in their relationships at the time.
Click here for a copy of the 2011 survey, undertaken in partnership with Credit Union Australia and conducted by Woolcott Research across Australia.
RAV partnered with primary schools, kindergartens and maternal and child health centres to run programs for fathers and children called Fathers Utilising Networks for Kids (FUN for Kids). These programs allowed fathers to examine their parenting styles, establish networks, have more effective communication with their kids, share with other dads and have fun. FUN for Kids is not currently being run.
The Potter Foundation funded an independent evaluation of the program by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS). The final report indicates some very positive outcomes for dads, partners, children and communities.