The Burndawan Project: Co-designing technology to support Indigenous people experiencing family violence

A project with the Wadawurrung community

The Burndawan online resource is now live

Visit the Online Resource

A lot of my family and friends would be frightened that their children would be taken away; so they won’t speak up for those reasons.

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 to their peoples.

In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 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 uptake.

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

This project involved working with the Wadawurrung community (of the Kulin Nations in South-West Victoria) to firstly determine – through interviews and advisory group guidance - whether the use of technology is an acceptable method for family violence interventions within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. We found that it is!

Following this, focus groups and Aboriginal community advisory group direction were used to determine the content, design and development of an online resource in an effort to ensure that the end-users informed the resource and made it relevant to their own needs.

This project 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) has also contributed to the publishing costs.

The resource was launched by the community on 25 November 2019.

Read a Media Release about the launch.

Read more about the project on Pursuit.

Watch more videos from the Burndawan Project


The Burndawan Project Resource


Interview with Renee Fiolet, Morning Show, The Pulse 94.7, 27 November 2019

Interview with Renee Fiolet, Morning Show, Bumma Bippera 98.7FM, 27 November 2019.

Interview with Renee Owen, The Mission, RRR Radio, 26 November 2019.

A community acting against family violence, Pursuit, 25 November 2019

Closing the gap or re-victimising the marginalised? Indigenous perspective on family violence,  Broad Agenda, 9 July 2019

Journal Articles

Fiolet, R., Tazia, L., Owen, R., Eccles, C., McGough, K., Owen, M., Fry, S., Knox, J., & Hegarty. K. (2020). Indigenous perspectives on using technology as a supportive resource when experiencing family violence. Journal of Technology in Human Services

Fiolet, R. Tarzia, L., Hameed, M., & Hegarty, K. (2019). Indigenous peoples’ help-seeking behaviours for family violence: A scoping review. Trauma, Violence and Abuse

Fiolet, R., Tazia, L., Owen, R., Eccles, C., McGough, K., Owen, M., Fry, S., Knox, J., & Hegarty. K. (2019). Indigenous perspectives on help-seeking for family violence:  voices from an Australian community. Journal of Interpersonal Violence

Dr Renee Fiolet [Melbourne School of Population and Global Health]

Dr Laura Tarzia [Department of General Practice]

Professor Kerry Arabena [School of Population and Global Health]

Dr Greg Wadley [School of Computing and Information Systems]

Dr Ashley Barnwell [School of Social and Political Sciences]

Professor Kelsey Hegarty [Department of General Practice]

Renee Owen [Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency; Baron Health]

Professor Jane Koziol-McLain [University of Auckland]

Community advisory panel

Corrina Eccles [Wadawurrung Cultural Educator]

Terry Atkinson [Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-op]

Elder May Owen [Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-op]

Kaley McGough [Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre]

Jasmin Knox [Ocean Grove Dental Clinic]

Syd Fry [Department of Health]

For information about this project, please contact:

Dr Renee Fiolet
Department of General Practice
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences