Stronger together

Stronger Together: Strengthening family functioning to improve outcomes for children

In partnership with Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, Women’s Legal Service Victoria is pleased to publish a research report on family reunification in Victoria’s child protection system.
What is this study about?


Our Stronger Together report presents findings from research into the lived experience of mothers seeking the return of their children to their care within the Victorian Child Protection system.


This study draws on interviews with thirty mothers seeking reunification with their children and the community legal centre practitioners who assist and represent them. All of the mothers in this study had experienced domestic and family violence.

The research provides policy makers and practitioners with key insights into the systemic barriers to family reunification and supports needed to safely reunify mothers and children experiencing family violence.


What needs to change?


Prioritising child safety and wellbeing together with family functioning requires immediate reorientation of the service system to:

  • Ensure strengths-based approach to enable children to thrive
  • Embed Trauma and DFV informed practice
  • Promote transparent communication and decision-making
  • Integrate cross-sector collaboration to facilitate access to support and assist trauma recovery.


The experiences of women in this study shows that protective responses to children and families at risk remain highly gendered, with mothers held responsible for child safety and wellbeing, while abusive fathers remain largely invisible.


Full Report

Executive Summary

Study Snapshot

Saadiya’s Story


Saadiya, a victim-survivor of family violence, was unable to access crisis support despite proactively seeking assistance through the child protection system. If she had been able to access the help she needed, further child protection intervention may not have been necessary. Read more about Saadiya’s story here.

Our partners


We acknowledge and thank the women who shared their experiences with us.  

The research was carried out by Women’s Legal Service Victoria in partnership with Dr Naomi Pfitzner and Associate Professor Silke Meyer from the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre.


Our project advisory committee included representatives from:

Victoria Legal Aid

Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre

Safe and Equal

Windermere Child and Family Services

Drummond Street Services

Australian Childhood Foundation

Women with Disabilities Victoria

The research was funded by a Knowledge Grant from the Victoria Law Foundation.

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We will reopen at 9am Monday 8 January 2024.


You can contact Victoria Legal Aid for legal support or Safe Steps for family violence support. 


Our duty lawyer services will continue during this period. Please contact your local court if you need legal help at court.


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