Social context/
Understanding family violence.

Crying statue

Friday 9th August 2024

Full Day EVENT | 10:00 AM-4:35 PM


Family violence is a problem often hidden in plain sight. Making the justice system safer for victim-survivors remains a priority for all courts and tribunals.

At this cross-jurisdictional event, acclaimed journalist, author and educator Jess Hill, one of Australia's most respected voices on gendered violence, will shine a light on the nature and complex dynamics of family violence.

Dr Siobhan Lawler, a member of the research team that completed the Pathways to intimate partner homicide project, and Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon, co-author of the recent Securing women’s lives report, will present the findings of their respective research and discuss the points of intervention available to disrupt the trajectories of high-risk perpetrators. Dr Brian Sullivan, CEO of the Red Rose Foundation and experienced practitioner, academic and educator, will cover working with men who commit family violence and how judicial officers can avoid collusive language in the courtroom.

Under the guidance of experienced judicial officers, attendees will also develop skills to identify, assess and manage family violence risks using the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) framework as a courtroom tool.

Note: This program is open to judicial officers only.


County Court of Victoria
Judge Sarah Leighfield
Judge Sarah Leighfield was appointed to the County Court in June 2020. Prior to her appointment she had worked as a solicitor advocate in criminal law at Galbally and O’Bryan before signing the bar roll in 2004. Her work at the bar was predominantly in criminal law, with an occasional foray into quasi-crime matters. In 2016, she was appointed as a magistrate, and spent much of her time in that role as a country magistrate working in the Loddon-Mallee region.
Magistrates' Court of Victoria
Magistrate Michelle Hodgson
Magistrate Michelle Hodgson was admitted in 1993 and worked as a Solicitor Advocate at Victoria Legal Aid, the Fitzroy Legal Service, and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. She signed the Bar Roll in 1998, and from 2005 to 2006 worked as in-house counsel for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. In 2008 she was appointed a Magistrate and has worked at the Children’s Court (2016 to 2018), as a Coroner (2018 to 2020) and as a judicial member of the Adult Parole Board (2017 to 2020).
Journalist, author and speaker
Jess Hill
Named 2023 Changemaker of the Year by Marie Claire, Jess Hill is a journalist, author and educator who has achieved global renown for her groundbreaking work on gendered violence. Her journalism in this area has won two Walkley awards, an Amnesty International award and three Our Watch awards. Her first book See What You Made Me Do became a bestseller and was awarded the 2020 Stella Prize and the ABA Booksellers Choice non-fiction book of the year. It has been translated into five languages and is ranked the highest-rated book by any Australian author by readers on Goodreads. In 2021, Jess presented a three-part television series adaptation of her book for SBS, which became the network’s highest-rating factual program. Since then, she has written a Quarterly Essay on how #MeToo is changing Australia, made a podcast series on coercive control titled The Trap, and a three-part series on consent called Asking For It. In her work as an advocate, Jess has made hundreds of media appearances and has fronted more than 350 events across the country, delivering education on coercive control. In 2024, she was the recipient of the NSW Premier’s Woman of Excellence award.
Australian Institute of Criminology
Dr Siobhan Lawler
Dr Siobhan Lawler is a Senior Research Analyst at the Australian Institute of Criminology. Dr Lawler holds a PhD in Medicine from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Psychological Science and Criminology (Honours) from the University of New South Wales. Her areas of expertise include domestic, family and sexual violence, violence prevention and evaluation of government, community and school-based research programs. Dr Lawler was part of the Australian Institute of Criminology research team that completed the ‘Pathways to intimate partner homicide’ project examining the trajectories of male intimate partner homicide offenders.
Monash University
Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon
Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon is a leading violence against women scholar. Kate is a Professor (Practice) with the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University and an Honorary Professorial Fellow with the Melbourne Law School at University of Melbourne. Kate also holds affiliated research appointments with the School of Law and Social Justice at University of Liverpool (UK) and the Research Center on Violence at West Virginia University (US). From 2020 to 2023 Kate was Director of the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, and a Professor of Social Sciences in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University. Kate is an international research leader in the area of domestic and family violence, femicide, responses to all forms of violence against women and children, perpetrator interventions, and the impacts of policy and practice reform in Australia and internationally. She has a strong record of conducting research that ethically and safely engages with family violence victim-survivors, people who use violence, and practitioners. The findings of Kate’s research have been published in books, academic journals, funded reports and presented at national and international conferences. Kate has advised on homicide law reform and family violence reviews in Australia and internationally, and has authored over 30 submissions to state, national and international inquiries. Her research has been cited by the High Court of Australia. In 2021 Kate was appointed Chair of Respect Victoria by the Victorian Government, and she was recently selected as part of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders 2024 class.
Red Rose Foundation and Sicura Domestic Violence Intervention and Training
Dr Brian Sullivan
Brian is the CEO of the Red Rose Foundation and Founder of Sicura Domestic Violence Intervention Education and Training. He has delivered training to judges, magistrates, registrars, and practitioners on understanding domestic violence perpetrators, and worked with communities organising collaborative community responses to domestic violence. Brian completed his doctorate in counselling and mental health at the College of Health and Human Services, University of Toledo, Ohio in 2000 where he researched readiness for change of court-mandated male perpetrators of domestic violence. While studying for his doctorate, Brian also trained in the Duluth Model of Domestic Violence intervention and worked intensively with court ordered men in Ohio. Brian has been Head of Course and Senior Lecturer at CQ University in the Domestic and Family Violence Practice Program and has served as a member of advisory committees for the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Queensland Police Service. Brian is a member of the Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Board, Department of Justice and Attorney-General in Queensland. Until recently, Brian worked as the Practice Manager of the Responsible Men Program, and supervised facilitators of the men’s program, women’s counsellors, and women’s advocates in the Domestic and Family Violence Program.