Burndawan Project


Using co-design to inform the development of an online Indigenous family violence resource:
A project with the Wadawurrung community

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What’s this project about?

Burndawan is a word from the Wadawurrung language, meaning ‘safe’.

Family violence (FV) is a prevalent issue within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations despite it being unacceptable within Indigenous communities.

In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders face greater barriers to seeking help than non-Indigenous peoples do. FV damages the culture and overall well-being of Australia’s First Nations peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have rarely been consulted regarding family violence interventions designed for them, which can often lead to poor adoption.

Recent evidence suggests that technological interventions for family violence have been accepted by non-Indigenous peoples experiencing family violence, however there is yet to be one that is co-designed and developed with an Indigenous community for their own endorsement and subsequent use.

This project works with the Wadawurrung community (South-West Victoria) to firstly determine whether the use of technology is an acceptable method for family violence interventions within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations and what would be wanted from a technological intervention for family violence.

Following this, focus groups and community advisory group direction will be used to determine the design and development of the resource in an effort to ensure that the end-users inform the resource and ensure its relevant to their own needs.

This project has received funding from the Melbourne Social Equity Institute for the design and development phases of the resource. A philanthropic organization based on Wadawurrung Country called “Give Where You Live” has provided funding towards the development costs to ensure that the resource is made into a tangible tool that can be accessed by the Wadawurrung community following all of their work. The Melbourne Research Alliance to end Violence Against women and their children (MAEVe) is also contributing to the publishing costs.

The resource will be launched by the community in November 2019.

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What can we expect to come out of this project?

This project has the potential to improve awareness, safety planning and help-seeking behaviours for Indigenous peoples experiencing family violence in the Wadawurrung community which could improve health outcomes for these peoples. The main impact and outcomes from this project are related to supporting early intervention for family violence; these outcomes are meaningful.

Other expected outcomes of the project include:

  • Community participation and empowerment through working together in the development of a technological intervention for FV

  • Community recognition for their contribution to a project which could inform other Indigenous interventions within the nation and demonstrating that the Wadawurrung peoples are leading the way in social change;

  • The establishment of a trusting partnership between the Wadawurrung community and the research community

  • Opportunity for the community advisory panel to gain research experience through mentoring and education provided by the research team from the University of Melbourne

  • An opportunity for the community to come together and learn about FV and the resource

  • Opportunity for traditional media and social media coverage so that the tool is promoted

  • Long-term impact of the tool being launched could be significant, as end-users may have improved outcomes, service providers have an additional resource to recommend, and government and NGOs can learn from the co-design and development of the tool.


What has this project achieved so far?

Interviews were undertaken with 23 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men from Wadawurrung country to determine the barriers they face when help-seeking, how they feel about the potential for an online resource and to identify their basic needs in a resource.

Three focus groups have been undertaken with Indigenous community members (two with women and one with men) to discuss the core components of the resource and to identify needs regarding design features, language and the inclusion of culture as a resource.

The community advisory group are now working with the researchers to evaluate the findings from the focus groups and have started to work on the set-out of the resource.

Some “mock-ups” will be taken to the community during May 2019 to engage feedback on progress.