Addressing Filicide: Moving to Prevention

Second International Conference

3rd – 4th June 2015, Monash Centre, Prato Italy

Presentation by Dr Myrna Dawson

Following the success of the Inaugural Conference “Addressing Filicide” in 2013, the Conference Committee are proud to announce details of the second conference, to be held again in the medieval centre of Prato (near Florence) in Italy, from Wednesday 3rd June to Thursday 4th June, 2015.

The conference will build from the first and seeks the participation of researchers, policy specialists and service providers from an even more diverse range of countries and backgrounds. Recognising that filicide is not a uniform phenomenon but rather one that encompasses and overlaps with a heterogeneity of circumstances, characteristics and motives causing fatal harm to children, the conference proposes becoming the springboard for developing more sophisticated evidence bases, theoretical tools and multi-disciplinary approaches to better understand these tragic events and better align research with preventive policies and programs.

The conference will provide delegates with more structured opportunities for discussion through break-out sessions and discussion groups so we can continue to strengthen existing research collaborations and build new ones to allow for more nuanced inter-country comparisons. That will lead to the development of local and global strategies of support, intervention and prevention.

Within these frameworks we seek papers that will tackle topics as follows:

  • National studies and inter-country studies
  • Multi-disciplinary studies
  • Differing cultural and community approaches to filicide
  • Prevention and intervention models
  • Explanatory Theories and Frameworks for filicide
  • Impact of social policies on filicide
  • Role and Impact of health, child protection and social welfare services on filicide (including GPs, psychiatrists, paediatricians, social workers, psychologists)
  • Mental Health Problems, Domestic Violence, Substance Abuse, Gambling and other life stresses
  • Supporting victims’ families in the aftermath
  • Education of professionals
  • Inter-relationship between media, community attitudes and prevention
  • Working with perpetrators in Corrections and Mental Health Services

Monash University Prato Centre

History of Palazzo Vaj

The Monash University Prato Centre occupies the ground and first floors of an 18th-century palazzo, called Palazzo Vaj, after the Vaj family who were the original owners. Parts of the building are believed to be much older – sections of walls on the ground floor are thought to date back to the medieval period and 15th-century frescoes were discovered on one of the outer walls of the palazzo. The present owners, L’Arte della Lana or ‘Wool Guild’, purchased the building from the Vaj family in the 1920s. Between 1875 and 1999, the first floor of the building was home to a prestigious club of local businessmen. The club was primarily a cultural and gaming venue and much of the centre’s interior architecture and fittings still reflect this purpose. The main fit-out was executed in the 1950s by the famous Italian architect, Italo Gamberini, and because of this, the first floor and its fittings are preserved under the Italian equivalent of the Heritage Commission.

View of the terrace at the Monash Prato Centre


Brief background

Prato is located in the northern part of Tuscany, a short distance from Florence and near the other major art cities of the region (Pistoia, Pisa, Lucca, Siena).

The second-largest city in Tuscany (190.000 inhabitants), after Florence, Prato has been a capital of the thriving Italian wool textile trade for nearly 900 years and is home to the ‘Museo del Tessuto’, a leading textiles museum, the ‘Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci’, a modern art museum, and the behemoth Swabian-style castle built by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, in the 13th century.

Since the late 1950s, the city has experienced significant immigration, firstly from southern Italy, then in the late 1980s from mainland China (Prato hosts the second largest Chinese immigrant population in Italy), Eastern Europe, the Indian sub-continent, north and west Africa and elsewhere.

The communal, provincial and regional governments are active in European Community affairs and have welcomed the presence of an Australian academic institution in the heart of their city.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Myrna Dawson

Myrna Dawson is a Canada Research Chair in Public Policy in Criminal Justice, Director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, and Associate Professor, Dept of Sociology & Anthropology, University of Guelph.

Dr Dawson is a co-author of Violence Against Women in Canada: Research and Policy Perspectives (Oxford University Press, 2011) and guest editor of the recent special issue ‘Fatality and Death Reviews’ in the international journal Homicide Studies. Dawson co-authored the 2004 background paper upon which Canada’s first domestic violence death review committee was built and she currently sits as a member.

Among various ongoing projects, some of her research examines the distribution of filicide over time and geography in Canada as well as the prevention potential of recommendations for change that arise out of domestic homicide death reviews. She has published and lectured internationally across various disciplines and sectors.

Professor Rebecca Dobash & Professor Russell Dobash

Professor Rebecca Dobash (emeritus professor of social research) and Professor Russell Dobash (emeritus professor of criminology and social policy) in the School of Law, University of Manchester, UK, where they were selected as two of the University of Manchester’s Knowledge Horizon Professors. They are also permanent Visiting Distinguished Professors in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.

The Dobashes have published internationally award-winning books and more than 100 articles and book chapters in the areas of domestic violence, gender and crime, and murder. Their first book, “Violence Against Wives” (Free Press, 1979) established the field of historically and socially contextualized domestic violence studies. The authors of this groundbreaking work were awarded the World Congress of Victimology’s International Award for Original Research and Significant Publications in 1980. Their book, “Women, Violence and Social Change” (Routledge, 1992) won the American Society of Criminology Award for Outstanding Comparative Criminology. In 1995, they received the American Society of Criminology’s August Vollmer award for significant contributions to criminal justice research and policy. Their latest book, “When Men Murder Women”, will be published by Oxford University Press, USA, in 2015.

They both received their bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Arizona State University and earned their doctorates in sociology at Washington State University in 1972 before taking up academic posts in the United Kingdom including the University of Stirling, Scotland (1972-91), the University of Wales (1991-95) and the University of Manchester (1995-2009) where they are now Emeritus Professors in Criminology in the School of Law. They have also had visiting positions or been invited scholars-in-residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Centre for Fellows in Bellagio, Italy; University of California, Berkeley; Johns Hopkins University; University of Haifa, Israel; and, the University of Melbourne and University of Sydney, Australia.

Russell and Rebecca Dobash are leading scholars internationally in the area of domestic violence and have defined this field of study since their first research on intimate partner violence in the 1970s. Their research has been supported through a number of prestigious awards in the USA from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and the Rockefeller Foundation, and in the UK from the Home Office, the Scottish Executive, the Carnegie Foundation, and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which is equivalent to the US National Science Foundation. The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation of New York also sponsored their year-long international and multidisciplinary initiative on violence against women.

The Dobashes strive to advance cutting edge research about various forms of interpersonal violence and to do so in ways that not only advance knowledge but also contribute to shaping public policies and practices and to providing a fuller and more informed understanding among activists and the general public. They are passionate about conducting careful, systematic research, and endeavour to translate their findings for research, professionals, practitioners and the public alike. Their insights into the issues of theorizing, defining, and measuring various types of interpersonal violence and murder have had an impact across different disciplines including sociology, criminology, psychology, social policy, social work, health care, and history. They tack with some dexterity between qualitative and quantitative methods in their pursuit of innovative ways to answer new questions about different types of interpersonal violence. Their mixed method approach focuses on the individuals involved, the nature of their relationships, violent events, the circumstances of victims and the life-course of the perpetrators which are placed within the wider cultural and social contexts in which the violence occurs. Their current research focuses on a study of all types of murder including those committed by and against men, women and children.

Their presentation, “When Men Murder Children”, will include a brief review of the existing evidence on filicide followed by findings from their research that relate to the murder of children within and outside the context of the family. A specific focus will be on the murder of children by men in the context of intimate partner violence and conflicts.

Professor Colin Pritchard

Professor Colin Pritchard Ph.D., M.A., A.A.P.S.W., F.R.S.A., F.AcSS. is a Yorkshireman and spent 15 years in child and adult psychiatric practice, and until three years maintained a small mental health case-load, for `job satisfaction and a reminder just how tough is the work. He was educated at the Universities of Bradford and Manchester.

In 1970, he was Lecturer Dept Psychiatry, University Leeds; Senior Lecturer Bath 1976-80; Professor Social Work at Southampton 1980-1998, then Research Professor Psychiatric Social Work, Dept Psychiatry, 1998-2001, when appointed Emeritus Professor School of Medicine, continuing as Visiting Professor Dept Psychiatry.

In 2003 became Research Professor Psychiatric Social Work, Bournemouth University.

His research, often controversial, is inter-disciplinary, reflected in recent publications such as the British Journal of Cancer; British Journal of Social Work; British Journal of Neurosurgery; Public Health, Archives of Suicide Research, Journal of Social Work etc, collaborating with Bournemouth colleagues Richard Williams, Jill Davey, Tamas Hickish and Andrew Mayers, and, Southampton Colleagues Dr’s Hansen and Mirza.

Examples of his research are an Effective psychosocial service for post-operative neurosurgical patients; Outcome of Excluded-from-School and Looked-After-Children; School-based social work; Comparing NHS & Western countries reduction of cancer deaths, showing how good is the NHS; CHanging patterns of neurological disease and Child-Abuse-Related-Deaths.

He presents evidence to argue that our Child Protection policy has been over-influenced by high profile tragedies, hiding the scandal of structural UK child poverty. Postulates the need for a Child Development, Protection and Psychiatric Interface approach to serve better All Our Children.

Adam Tomison

Adam Tomison was appointed Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology in July 2009. He is internationally recognised as an expert in the field of child maltreatment and the development and operation of child protection and family support systems.

Previous positions have included being Director of the Northern Territory’s statutory child protection services, and advising the NT ‘Little Children are Sacred’ Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse.

He first became well known for developing and managing Australia’s National Child Protection Clearinghouse and the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.

He is currently an Honorary Professor at the Australian Catholic University and sits on a number of Boards, including the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime, and the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

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