Dr Sophie Yates wins top honours for PhD on family violence

Dr Sophie Yates wins top honours for PhD on family violence

Dr Sophie Yates
Postdoctoral researcher Dr Sophie Yates has received top honours for her PhD at the 2019 UNSW Arts & Social Sciences Dean’s Research Awards.

Dr Yates’ thesis, A critical frame analysis of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence, was named Best HDR Doctoral Thesis.

The thesis explores family violence as a policy problem, using the data from the Royal Commission into Family Violence as a launchpad into research on how gender and family violence is understood and talked about.

The Royal Commission had a significant effect on domestic and family violence policy in Victoria after the state government accepted all 227 recommendations and committed funding for their implementation.

Dr Yates’ work focuses on themes such as alcohol and drugs, mental health, children, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, that complicate the mainstream narrative of men abusing their female partners.

Of her research, Dr Yates says: “I knew that in Victoria, a gendered analysis of men’s violence against women was pretty strong in a mainstream sense, but what about the role of alcohol and mental health? What about family violence in Aboriginal communities? What about the involvement of children?”

“For each of these themes there are complex arguments about the role of gender and other factors in the causes of family violence and the solution to the problem.”

Dr Yates looked at these themes and analysed what expert witnesses and the Commission’s report said in relation to each of them.

“I found that the Commission’s work had a very clear gendered narrative overall with some robust arguments about structural gender inequality, but the gender equality framing was weaker in relation to my four sub-themes,” Dr Yates said.

“I proposed an intersectional model of gender, power and family violence that acknowledges and captures many different factors and how they interact with gender to influence family violence.”

Dr Yates joined UNSW Canberra after completing her PhD at the University’s Sydney campus this year.

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