ASeTTS Participation in Research

With high demands on the capacity of ASeTTS staff and clients, ASeTTS is strategic in the major research projects the organization undertakes. ASeTTS works through formalized partnerships with universities and experienced researchers to conduct research. Research allows us to continue to examine our work and the needs of our clients, therefore ensuring the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Current Research Projects at ASeTTS

Torture & Trauma Counselling Outcomes

This study involves the analysis of pre-existing non-identifiable data that was collected as part of routine clinical counselling assessment and intervention, using a standardised tool. Data analysis indicates that counselling intervention has had a positive impact for both anxiety and depression symptoms.

Researcher(s): April Pearman (ASeTTS), Alyssa. Lillee (UWA), Stephanie Olinga-Shannon (ASeTTS), David A. Coall (Edith Cowan University)

Mental health needs among refugees in immigration detention

This study investigated rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms among asylum seekers who presented for treatment of trauma-related issues while held in detention in Australia. Findings suggest that mental health assessment is necessary, and intervention is critically needed, for people at risk of psychological distress in detention settings.

Researcher(s): April Pearman (ASeTTS), Dr. Elizabeth Newnham (Curtin University), Charis E. Anton (UWA), & Stephanie Olinga-Shannon (ASeTTS)

Impact of Visa Insecurity on Refugee Mental Health

The study aims to determine the effect of visa insecurity on mental health outcomes within a clinical sample of refugees in Australia. Findings suggest that for refugees living in the community, temporary status visas play a significant role in ongoing distress.

Researcher(s): April Pearman (ASeTTS), Dr. Elizabeth Newnham (Curtin University) Dr. Angela Nickerson (University of NSW)


Researching the use of Multi-CASI (Multilingual Computer Assisted Self-Interview), used to assist in the standardised assessment of people who speak diverse languages and have limited literacy skills.  The computer program considerably eases the process of data collection for therapists and offers a number of advantages such as data completeness and standardisation, immediacy of data entry and elimination of transcription costs and errors.

Researcher(s): STARTTS NSW & ASeTTS, April Pearman

Best Practice Principles for Interventions with Domestic and Family Violence Perpetrators from Refugee Backgrounds

The research aims to identify best practice principles to inform and underpin culturally appropriate domestic and family violence interventions for perpetrators from refugee backgrounds with a focus on five countries of origin (namely Afghanistan, Burma, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan). The rationale for conducting the research is in response to the fact that despite a large and increasing number of individuals and families fleeing persecution, war and violence resetting in Australia, there are limited interventions for perpetrators of family and domestic violence from refugee backgrounds and a dearth of evidence to inform culturally appropriate and effective perpetrator interventions for them.

Funded by ANROWS.

Researchers: Elizabeth Lang (ASeTTS), Prof Colleen Fisher (UWA) and April Pearman (ASeTTS)

Exploring refugee experiences of torture and trauma counselling

A qualitative research project in collaboration with Curtin University that seeks to better understand client experiences of counselling at ASeTTS, and to explore the individual and structural factors impacting client engagement.

Researcher(s): Alicia Gibbs (Curtin University) & April Pearman (ASeTTS)

FASTT National Minimum Dataset

As part of ASeTTS commitment to the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) network, ASeTTS contributes data to the National Minimum Dataset (NMDS).

Research Forums

ASeTTS is an active member of the FASTT national research Working Group.

Sample Involvement Only Research Projects (Staff and/or Client/Community Participation)

ASeTTS receives a large number of requests for involvement in research projects from researchers and post-graduate students. ASeTTS involvement may include the following where the below criteria are met.

  • data collected during the course of standard service provision
  • providing advice on the design of research involving torture and trauma survivors
  • recruitment of clients or staff to participate in interviews or surveys
  • Contributing to the writing of papers, reports and books.


Criteria for ASeTTS involvement in external research projects

Proposed research projects must meet the following criteria to be considered. The research project must;

  • contribute towards ASeTTS research aims
  • benefit ASeTTS client population (in the short, medium or long term)
  • hold ethics approval or exemption from ethics review from an NHMRC recognised committee
  • be conducted by researchers who have adequate experience and are affiliated with a reputable academic institution
  • not include research methods that will overburden participants’ time or mental health and well being
  • have a clear research design
  • have a clear and wide dissemination plan for publishing and distributing research findings.


Research Publications

Teckic, N. (2015) ‘Psychological distress in Refugee survivors of torture and trauma’ Medicine Today. July

Shukoor, J. (2015) ‘Trauma and Children: A refugee Perspective’ Children Australia. 40 (3)

Fisher, C. (2009) ‘Exploration of the Nature and Understanding of Family and Domestic Violence within Sudanese, Somalian, Ethiopian, Liberian and Sierra Leonean Communities and its Impact on Individuals, Family Relations, the Community and Settlement.’ Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors, Perth, Australia.