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Doctoral Researcher travels to Australia and New Zealand to study ways of improving responses to domestic violence

James Rowlands

A Doctoral Researcher at Sussex has been awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship, which will see him travel to Australia and New Zealand this month.

James Rowlands, PhD candidate in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology, is studying ways of improving responses to domestic violence, specifically intimate partner homicide.

Describing his projects, James said: “My research is into Domestic Homicide Reviews here in the UK, particularly England and Wales. When someone is murdered by a former or current partner, or a family member, there is a review of what happened to try and learn lessons and identify what agencies could or should have done. I’m going to four different countries to investigate how they approach Domestic Homicide Reviews and the kind of practices and learning that they generate.”

Having already participated in a summit in Arizona (USA), Australia and New Zealand are next, followed by Canada in December.

“These four countries have been doing reviews the longest, so that’s where the practice is. Seeing all four different models and thinking about what our model is like will hopefully be illuminating.”

During the current leg of the trip, James will spend time working in Wellington, Auckland, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

Plans include visiting researchers in other institutions, people who manage the reviews and professionals, such as domestic abuse advisors and police officers, whose work is involved in the review process.

Before beginning his PhD research in 2018, James worked in a variety of roles in the domestic violence and wider Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector. Locally, James was the Strategic Commissioner for Domestic Violence and Abuse, Sexual Violence and VAWG at Brighton & Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council.

“I was doing strategy work, commissioning specialist services, and doing a lot of partnership work – conversations about how different agencies could contribute to improving support for victims or addressing violence and abusive behaviour. I worked with the University of Sussex in that role, and that’s partly why I applied to Sussex.”

James encourages other researchers to consider applying to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust: “It’s an incredibly flexible fellowship, so they are very open to different proposals, while their focus is on dissemination of learning and improving practice.”

Summarising his hopes for the trip, James said: “The chance to look at review processes in other parts of the world will help me hugely, both as a practitioner – I chair Domestic Homicide Reviews – and to inform my research, to give that broader perspective on ways of doing this kind of work and ultimately, how we do that well, with the goal of reducing future homicides.”


Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Thursday, 1 August 2019

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A good use of research funding! Good luck with your research.

From Stephanie Watson on 1 August 2019
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