The Family Action Centre (FAC) is a practice, teaching and research centre working with families and communities in all their diverse forms.



The FAC has the following research & evaluation projects in various stages of the research cycle.

  • Eight (8) research projects are within our Fathers & Families Research Program
  • 3 are related to domestic and family violence
  • 2 projects focus on community development
  • One pilot evaluation project relating to the DRUMBEAT program

The Fathers and Families Research Program welcomes applications from prospective PhD and Research Masters students who are interested in topics related to fathers, fatherhood or fathering.

To be considered, you will need to have achieved excellent results in your undergraduate studies and satisfy the University's English proficiency requirement (IELTS of at least 6.5)

To express your interest, please email your CV together with a brief statement of your research interests to


Download the Bulletin (PDF, 1MB) 

Fathers and Families staff  

Research & Evaluation Projects 




Fishbowl - evaluation

An evaluation of a practical group for parents residing in a refuge.

Kerrell Bourne, Dr Leanne Schubert, Jane Mitchell

Transition Streets Challenge (TSC)

TSC brings neighbours together to explore ways in which their neighbourhoods can become more sustainable and more connected.

Research will explore (through interviews, focus groups, a survey and participant observation) what can be learnt from the TSC project in terms of community engagement and promoting sustainability. The ethics application has been submitted and the interviews will commence in July.

Dr Graeme Stuart with Amanda Howard (Social Work) and Emily Grace (Environmental & Life Science).

Drumbeat evaluation

Evaluation plans agreed to, research design and grant application being prepared.

Dr Jennifer St George, Kate Dennis

Got It! Evaluation

Got It! (Getting on Track on time) is a school-based early intervention program offered by the Department of Education & Communities, together with the Ministry of Health and Local Health Districts, under the NSW Government "Keep Them Safe " strategy.  The program is designed to reduce child behaviour problems.

Penny Crofts, Dr Graeme Stuart, Deb Hartman 

In partnership with Debbie Plath Consulting

Glencore Research

Two research projects are being undertaken as part of the Xstrata Capacity Building Project – one with Carries Place Women's and Children's Services and one with Muswellbrook Women's and Children's Refuge (MWCR). MWCR has recently been identified as the preferred supplier for upper Hunter homelessness and outreach services. We will work with MWCR as it transitions into its new role. 

Penny Crofts, Dr Leanne Schubert and Kate Akhurst-Dennis


SMS4dads is a two year feasibility study to develop and test a program sending text (SMS) messages to new fathers each week over the period before and after the birth. SMS4dads will also check in with dads at regular intervals to ask about their mood and fathering confidence. Those dads indicating distress or low confidence at any time will be linked to relevant information and support. This study is funded by beyondblue and Movember.

Chief Investigator: Dr Richard Fletcher

Advisory Committee:  Dr Richard Fletcher, Michael Moore, Dr Nicole Highet, Dr Frances Kay-Lambkin, Prof Brian Kelly, Prof Jeannette Milgrom, Prof Maralyn Foureur, Prof Louise Newman, Barbara Wellesley, Professor Ian Symonds, Jan Nicholson, Warren Cann.

Dr Richard Fletcher 
Stayin' on Track

Stayin' on Track, a program designed to transition young Aboriginal men to fatherhood through a user-developed website, will also test a smartphone app called Mood Tracker and Dad Tracker. Young Aboriginal fathers from Newcastle, Tamworth and Moree are co-investigators and have recorded their own stories on film to be used in the phone app.

Chief Investigator: Dr Richard Fletcher

Co-Investigators: Prof Brian Kelly, Dr Josephine Gwynn, Dr Tonelle Handley, Ms Lisa Shipley, Dr Geoffrey Skinner, Ms Nicole Turner, Prof David Perkins, Mr Craig (Burkie) Hammond, Darren (Charlie) Faulkner.

Dr Richard Fletcher & Mr Craig Hammond 
The Fathers & Family Research Program

The Fathers & Family Research Program has been contracted to Berry Street, Victoria to develop a Father-Inclusive Practice Guide through a literature review and action research activities with staff.

Chief Investigator: Dr Richard Fletcher.
Associate investigators: Dr Chris May, Mr Simon Fowler

Connecting2U (Queensland Health) is an SMS development project to deliver text messages to new mothers and fathers. Phase 1 tested a bank of messages with parents at one hospital. Phase 2 will involve several sites over a two year period.

Dr Richard Fletcher

SMS Message Development

A pilot study to evaluate the quality and helpfulness of a set of text messages delivered to the mobile phones of new fathers. Parents from Ngala (WA) and Tresillian (NSW) provided feedback on messages providing information, motivation and practical advice on child development, parenting, family support, and family relationships. Fathers received messages for three weeks as a test of the delivery system.

Chief Investigators: Dr Richard Fletcher, Prof Brian Kelly

Co-investigators: Dr Julie Redfern, Dr Chris May, Dr Dawson Cooke

Dr Richard Fletcher,   Dr Chris May

Survey of fathers of children with developmental challenges

An 'About Being A Father' survey will be distributed to fathers who access services for their children from organisations in the Hunter Region. Information from the survey will inform father-inclusive practices among service providers.

Chief Investigator:      Dr Richard Fletcher,

Associate investigator: Tara Payling 

Screening Fathers for Depression Interview

Staff from Early Parenting Centres across Australia will be interviewed to identify the instruments and processes involved in detecting and supporting fathers attending the centres.  This project is funded by the Association of Parent and Child Health (AACPH).

Chief Investigators: Dr Richard Fletcher, Ms Eileen Dowse, Dr Elaine Bennett, Dr Rebecca Giallo, Prof Sally Chan.

Associate investigators: Tara Payling

Dr Richard Fletcher, Ms Tara Payling

Developing meaningful mental healthcare services from the lived experience of suicidal young men

This study will use a qualitative design to understand the lived experience of young men.

(18-25years of age) who have received care for suicidal behaviour or a suicide attempt. The data will be collected by in-depth, unstructured, recorded interviews (of about one hour). A purposive sample of 40 will be recruited from mental health services outpatients and community mental health in NSW until data saturation. The participants will be suicidal persons, defined as a client of the health service with 'suicidal ideation' or a history of suicidal behaviour, and current or past experience with mental health service intervention.

Chief Investigators: Prof Sally Chan

Co-Investigators: Tony O'Brien, Dr Graeme Browne, Dr Richard Fletcher, Prof Brian Kelly, Dr Amanda  Wilson.

Dr Richard Fletcher

Publications 2014 & 2013

Fletcher R. (2013) Ruw spel van vaders bervordert sociale, emotionele en lichamelijke ontwikkeling van jongens en meisjes. (Fathers rough play promotes social, emotional and physical development of boys and girls)  Edited by Carolien Gravesteijn  and Rene Diekstra Jongens & Meisjes:  Zoek de verschillen?! (Boys & Girls: Spot the difference!) Van Gorcum Amsterdam.  Pp57-67.

Fletcher, R. Father-baby bonding – why and how. Sydney Child, Melbourne Child, Perth Child, Brisbane Child

Fletcher, R. (2011) The Dad Factor. Finch Books

May, C & Fletcher, R. (2013) Preparing fathers for the transition to parenthood: Recommendations for the content of antenatal education. Midwifery 29  474–478

Fletcher R. (2013) Fathers Role in Early Childhood Learning. Early Childhood Australia Everyday Learning Series

Stuart, G (Forthcoming). The Transition Streets Challenge: Potential and challenges. New Community Quarterly.

Lawson, G & Fletcher, R. (Forthcoming). Delayed fatherhood. Accepted by Journal of Family and Planning and Reproductive Health Care.

Fletcher, R., Garfield, C & Matthey, S. (Submitted). Fathers' perinatal mental health. Identifying Perinatal Depression and Anxiety: Evidence-Based Practice in Screening, Psychosocial Assessment and Management. Submitted to John Wiley Publishers.

Fletcher, R., Dowse, E., Hall, P., Hopwwod, N., Guest, E & Erickson, J. (Submitted). Identifying depressed fathers during a home visit, why and how. Submitted to CHild & Family Health Nurses Journal. 

Fletcher, R., May, C., & St George, J. (Forthcoming). A fathers prenatal relationship with 'their' baby and 'her' pregnancy - implications for antenatal eduction. Accepted by International Journal of Birth & Parent Education.

Fletcher, R., & St George, J. (2014). Men's Experiences Of Grandfatherhood: A Welcome Surprise. International Journal of Aging and Human Development. Vol. 78(4) 353-380

Conference Presentations 2013

Fletcher, R., (2012). A Fathers' Role In Reducing Chronic Disease. Paper presentation Australasian Society for Behavioural Health & Medicine, Newcastle 2013 (delivered by Chris May

May, C. (2013) The Importance of Co-parenting Quality as a predictor of Parenting Stress in Families where there is a Child with an ASD. Presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Basque Country, Spain.

Crofts, P (2013) Families in Australia: The Case for Family Studies as an Academic Discipline, Keynote Presentation to Third International Symposium on Urban Society: Keynote address at the International Conference of Child, Youth and Family Studies Under the Context of Globalisation School of Social Development, East China Normal University. 23rd – 24th May 2013

Crofts, P (2013) Intervening Early: Evaluating a Program for Children at Risk of Conduct Disorder, Paper Presentation to Third International Symposium on Urban Society: Keynote address at the International Conference of Child, Youth and Family Studies Under the Context of Globalisation School of Social Development, East China Normal University. 23rd – 24th May 2013. (This conference precedes the next meeting of the Global Consortium for International Family Studies (GCIFS).

Hartman, D. (2013). Gender Inclusive School Education involving Parents and the Community - Global lessons from a Local Australian Field Analysis. Paper delivered at the International Conference of Child, Youth and Family Studies Under the Context of Globalisation School of Social Development, East China Normal University. 23rd – 24th May 2013. 

Crofts, P. (2013) Is this really a case of co-production of knowledge? Analysis of a case study exploring community attitudes to domestic violence, Paper accepted  for Engagement Australia Conference, The Next Steps: Co-producing Knowledge for Social Impact ( Melbourne, 15-17 July 2013