The original project conducted was the first state-wide in-depth retrospective study to be carried out in Australia in 2011, the Victorian Filicide Study. It covered all filicide deaths of children in Victoria from 2000 to 2009 inclusive. Some 52 children were killed during that period according to the data held by the Victorian Coroner’s Office, which cooperated with the Monash Deakin team on the project. The study, reported in an article published in Child Abuse Review UK in March 2014, together with conference presentations showed that the events could be characterised, for intervention purposes, in relation to the relationship of the perpetrator with the victim. Namely mother, father, or step-father perpetrated filicide events.
Personal factors around mental illness, parental separation, domestic violence, substance abuse, and past child abuse were found to be present but they varied in their constellation according to perpetrator type. Perpetrators had been in touch with services but a successful preventive engagement had not occurred. Further work continues using this data.
In 2016, the Monash Deakin Filicide Research and Education team commenced the National Filicide Study that was carried out in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC). That project covered all filicide deaths between 2000 and 2012. These deaths were reported to the National Homicide Monitoring Data Base held by AIC. The project investigated whether or not the conclusions of the Victorian study held true for the other states taken individually and together. The team hope that the results of this study will lead to new recommendations for prevention.
Our most recent publication is entitled When Parents Kill Children: Understanding Filicide (2018) with Palgrave Macmillan. This edited collection presents empirical research from countries around the world.
As we note in the preface:
This book recognises that the picture of filicide internationally is incomplete. The wide-range of contributions presented here represent but a glimpse into this picture that sometimes adopts a narrow focus on incidence, or a particular category of victim, or that pays close attention to the details about filicide events, the circumstances in which they occur and what should be done to prevent filicide in the future. Whether the focus is on quantifying the data, identifying key patterns and trends, the contributions in this collection add further depth and detail that only serves to broaden our understanding about filicides in general. We hope readers will find the contributions to be a useful addition to the disparate but rapidly growing literature on filicide and prompt further debate and discussion about how we can intervene earlier to support vulnerable family members and better prevent these tragic events.
You can also read a review of our book done by Janice Sim.