Keeping people safe: Understanding the unique contribution of Catholic agencies to the prevention of and response to family violence

Working with Caritas Australia, Catholic Social Services Australia and Catholic Health Australia, this SESU project mapped the unique work of Catholic agencies in responding to and preventing family violence.

The project aimed to understand the range of services provided by the partners and their members, areas of commonality across their work, and potential future areas of collaboration or research on this topic. Surveys and interviews were held with the partner's member agencies providing family violence services in Australia, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Lebanon and Papua New Guinea.

Feedback provided by CEOs and front line staff shed new light on the range of family violence services provided by Catholic organisations, staff experiences of service provision, and perceptions about the role of the church in supporting responses to family violence. Many participants saw the institutional Church as providing many benefits to their ability to respond to family violence. Catholic Social Teaching (CST) principles were key in shaping perceptions of Catholic agencies' work in family violence, and family violence was understood as violating inherent dignity and human rights.

The findings also point to challenges that affect agencies' provision of services for family violence, as identified by agency staff as well as being evident in wider community understandings. These included a lack of knowledge about the family violence services Catholic organisations provide, stigma of discussion about family violence in public discourse, and perceptions about the Church as a non-inclusive and patriarchal structure acting as a potential barrier to the community's engagement with Catholic support services.

The report recommended that Catholic agencies work with Church stakeholders to further collaborate in advocacy and educational campaigns on this issue (such as to reduce stigma around accessing social services for support) and promote their work to the wider community, governments and donors, and that the partner agencies develop further opportunities to share best practice services, strategies, and resources among their member agencies.

The report findings are being used to advocate across the sector and to government to increase awareness of and opportunities to support the unique work of Catholic agencies in family violence service provision.


Keeping people safe: Understanding the unique contribution of Catholic agencies to the prevention of and response to family violence

Media items

Caritas Australia



Catholic Health Australia

Catholic Health Australia logo.



Catholic Social Services Australia




Project team
  • Ms Zhi Yan - Policy Influence Lead, Caritas Australia
  • Ms Anne Aziz-Parker - Communications Director, Catholic Social Services Australia
  • Mr Alex Lynch - Manager, Health Policy, Catholic Health Australia
  • Prof Susan Broomhall - Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, ACU
  • Dr Mary Noseda - National School of Theology, ACU
  • Dr Jae-Eun Noh - Queensland Bioethics Centre, ACU
  • Dr Clare Davidson - Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, ACU
  • Ms Harriet Steele - Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, ACU
  • Dr Jill Cox, ACU Engagement
  • Ms Vivien Cinque, ACU Engagement

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