UNSW Sydney has received $2.5 million in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding for a Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) which will investigate violence in the community.

Professor Tony Butler at UNSW Medicine & Health will lead a team of Australian and international researchers to better understand violence perpetration and improve its prediction and prevention.

“Violence is a major public health issue. It is a major cause of death, suffering and economic loss worldwide. Tackling those who perpetrate or use violence is an essential component in addressing this issue,” Prof. Butler said.

Most resources are directed toward interventions to support victims of violence once it has occurred, and a criminal justice system response for perpetrators. Prof. Butler believes the community needs a better understanding of violence perpetration and more effective interventions.

The CRE will comprise 11 projects which will observe individual factors such as early life experiences, cognition and medication use, and consider broader issues such as sentencing practices in court and how to optimise the collection and use of large violence-related data.

Tony Butler

Professor Tony Butler. Photo: Kirby Institute.

It involves investigators covering violence associated with Aboriginal women, mental illness, stalking and domestic violence. A lifespan approach will also be adopted ranging from childhood exposure to violence, juvenile trajectories into violence, and violence in the context of cognitive impairment.

A national data collection based on police domestic violence data will be developed and enable better reporting of domestic violence, providing data to better understand and predict subsequent domestic violence.

Read more: Funding success for Centres of Research Excellence

Prof. Butler said the new knowledge and insights generated by the team will help improve prevention efforts.

“A better understanding of those who use violence will complement support services for victims,” he said. “The research projects will also use a range of qualitative and quantitative methodologies to examine issues such as domestic violence surveillance, motivations for being violent and the role of early life exposure in future violence.”

Scientia Professor Vlado Perkovic, Dean of UNSW Medicine & Health congratulated Prof. Butler on the funding success.

“It’s fantastic to see UNSW receiving support to pursue collaborative research and develop capacity in clinical research, health services research and public health research on this issue,” he said.

“I look forward to the outcomes of these projects which will have a significant impact on our understanding of violence in society.”