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Understanding victims' experience - The key to driving change for a CQUni researcher

Photo: Understanding victims' experience - The key to driving change for a CQUni resear....
It was her confronting experience on the frontline of domestic and family violence that prompted Dr Silke Meyer to take on research into the complex victim support system.

Now a researcher and lecturer with CQUniversity, Dr Meyer’s work is empowering other frontline responders to grow their impact for vulnerable women and children, too.

Originally from Germany, Dr Meyer began her career as a social worker in intensive support services for families. After completing a Master of Criminology in Europe, then a PhD in Australia, Dr Meyer applied to join CQUniversity, to develop postgraduate programs in domestic and family violence practice – the first of their kind in Australia.

“I’ve had the opportunity to turn my practice background and passion into my research, and then to turn my research expertise into a teaching program,” Dr Meyer said.
“I now teach as part of a fabulous team at CQUni, in an innovative area of postgraduate studies, and my research projects complement that teaching.”

Last year, Dr Meyer also led CQUniversity research commissioned by the Queensland Family and Child Commission, which highlighted the role of social support and community connectedness to empower parent victims of domestic and family violence.

Analysing data from the ‘Talking Families’ survey of 2,501 parents across Queensland, her work found connectedness was a key protective factor.

Dr Meyer’s current research projects include two program evaluations for the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and an independent project examining procedural justice experiences of victims, perpetrators and court-related staff members.

This project is supported by CQUniversity and Queensland’s Department of Justice and Attorney General.

“Understanding how court experiences can shape the behaviour and decisions of those affected by domestic and family violence is crucial in better protecting victims and children, and supporting perpetrators towards becoming safer partners and parents,” Dr Meyer said.

CQUniversity’s commitment to engaged research, through partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders, is especially rewarding for Dr Meyer.

“I’ve been fortunate to work closely with government departments, NGOs and communities in my research – so I’ve been able to see the impact of my research on policy and practice in Queensland, and that is pretty rewarding for a researcher. It confirms that we’re doing meaningful work,” she said.

CQUniversity’s suite of DFV courses includes a unit in Child Safety and Domestic Violence, and Dr Meyer currently has 32 students taking on the confronting topic.

“The fact their learning is based solidly in real-life, local research findings is so important to them, and it really transforms the way they do their jobs,” Dr Meyer explained.

Regardless of your professional background, CQUniversity offers comprehensive support for aspiring Research Higher Degree (RHD) students, to develop and consolidate research skills, and apply them in practical, real-world settings.

The Uni offers part-time or full-time study options, online or at one of many regional and metropolitan locations across Australia. Visit cqu.edu.au/rhd for more information.

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