Dr Heather Lovatt


Heather was appointed QCDFVR Director in March 2018, after working at the Centre as a Senior Researcher for a number of years.

She originally joined QCDFVR in 2014 before a short departure to complete her PhD ‘Unravelling foster care and finding family support’. On her return to QCDFVR in 2015 Heather led a qualitative study with victim/survivors of domestic violence who had experienced cross-border domestic violence protection orders. The study was funded by the Queensland Government as part of the national research agenda and commissioned by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS). Since then Heather has been instrumental in undertaking applied research projects with the Queensland community sector, and her work has largely been associated with the responses to the ‘Not Now, Not Ever’ recommendations.

Heather’s undergraduate degree is in Community Work and she has a history of working with community services in the government and non-government sectors in Queensland.  She has held a diverse range of positions across the areas of practice, program, policy and research, with a primary focus on service responses particularly as they relate to child protection, foster care, family support and violence against women.


Professor Annabel Taylor

Research Professor in Gendered Violence

Annabel’s appointment to this flagship position in 2018 followed her tenure as Director, QCDFVR.

Annabel joined QCDFVR in late 2014, having been an evaluation research consultant in domestic violence services, child abuse prevention services and alternative justice initiatives in New Zealand. Prior to her arrival at QCDFVR Annabel was based at the University of Canterbury and between 2009 and 2014 held the position of Director of the Te Awatea Violence Research Centre where she designed and led a number of research projects commissioned by the community and government sectors. During this time, Annabel was a Ministerial appointee to the Canterbury Benefit Review Committee and helped to establish and support community agencies providing services in child abuse prevention and support for women on release from prison.  In 2013 she was a Galpin Fellowship recipient and undertook research based in Connecticut in the US on alternative justice and domestic and family violence.

Annabel has published widely and in 2013 co-edited a book “Understanding Violence: Context and Practice in the Human Services” which has become a key resource for practitioners in the field and students in a variety of university-based learning. Whilst QCDFVR Director (2014-2018) Annabel completed national reports on judicial education and domestic violence, and the enforcement of protection orders in Australia.  She has been a pioneer in introducing extensive domestic and family violence education and training options at both Higher Education and VET levels through QCDFVR’s relationship with CQUniversity.


Dr Liane McDermott

Senior Research Officer

Liane McDermott has a PhD in population health and re-joined QCDFVR in June (2016)- some Re@der readers will recall Liane’s name from her 2009 work with the Centre. Liane has worked for a number of years as a researcher in population health, with a focus on health behaviour change in communities at a local level. As well, throughout her research career, Liane has taught health behaviour and health promotion courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and co-supervised Masters and PhD students. With a professional background in community development, Liane has a broad range of experience in community engagement and consultation, and in the development and evaluation of services and resources that best meet community and service provider needs. Liane’s research role in the Centre will include evaluating the training provided by the Queensland Police Service to its staff in relation to domestic and family violence.


Dr Emily Hurren Paterson


Emily’s background is in criminology and psychology. She is passionate about teaching and looks forward to the opportunity to contribute to the development of future practitioners. Her primary research area is child maltreatment and cumulative risk. Her PhD thesis examined the links between child maltreatment and subsequent youth offending. Her current body of research is focused on tracking individuals across multiple systems concerning child maltreatment, domestic violence, and general criminal offending. Emily hopes that her research will assist in identifying opportunities for prevention or intervention across the life-course of individuals.


Dr Sue Carswell

Senior Research Officer

Dr Sue Carswell joined QCDFVR as a Senior Research Officer in 2018. Sue has over 20 years research and evaluation experience working for government agencies, community organisations, and universities nationally and internationally.  Sue’s main areas of focus are examining how good outcomes can be achieved for vulnerable families, particularly for those with multiple complex issues such as domestic and family violence, child abuse and neglect, poverty, mental health and addictions.  She has an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of different forms of domestic and family violence and the processes and interventions used to prevent further harm. She is a specialist in research and evaluation of service development and delivery to provide information on implementation, effectiveness, and to inform good practice.

Sue has considerable experience in designing and managing research and evaluation projects to ensure they meet the project objectives, are ethically and culturally appropriate, and are delivered on time.  She believes that developing collaborative relationships with funders, participating organisations and stakeholders is critical to the success of implementing any project. Sue has authored or co-authored over 70 reports including peer reviewed journal articles, government and community research and evaluation reports, and literature reviews.


Dr Brian Sullivan

Senior Lecturer

After 15 years working in leadership roles in the education and human service sectors, Brian undertook advanced counsellor training in the USA. He completed his doctorate in counselling and mental health at the College of Health and Human Services, University of Toledo, Ohio in 2000, where he researched readiness for change in court-mandated male perpetrators of domestic violence.

While in the USA, Brian also trained in the Duluth Model of Domestic Violence Intervention, and he has worked intensively with court-ordered men using the Duluth program.

On returning to Australia, Brian was instrumental in designing and developing the Master of Counselling Program at the University of Queensland, where he coordinated a course in Violence Issues in Counselling. Brian has also provided training for professionals in Domestic Violence Intervention Programs for men who perpetrate intimate partner violence, and with communities organising collaborative community responses to domestic violence.

He has regularly presented at Queensland Police Domestic Violence Liaison Officers (DVLO) training, and trained Probation and Parole Officers of Queensland Corrective Services annually since 2003.  Brian has also completed a review of the Queensland Police Service First Year Constables Domestic Violence Intervention Training Package, and in 2008, was appointed a White Ribbon Ambassador.

In 2009 Brian was contracted by the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project to present their three day Level 1 facilitator training and two day Level 2 facilitator training in the Duluth Curriculum “Creating a Process of Change for Men who Abuse”.

For the last three years Brian has worked at YFS, Logan, as the practice manager of five men’s domestic violence intervention groups per week. He has supervised Facilitators of the Men’s Program, Women’s Counsellors and Women’s Advocates in the Domestic and Family Violence Program at YFS, Logan.

Brian has also written a men’s domestic violence intervention program and been consulted by government and non-government organisations on integrated responses and men’s domestic violence intervention.

He is currently on the Board of the Red Rose Foundation.


Dr Marika Guggisberg


Dr Guggisberg joined CQU in February 2017. Prior to this appointment, she was based at Curtin University in Perth where she completed her Post-Doctoral Fellowship and stayed on for seven years, continuing her research and teaching into the postgraduate health sciences program. She has an undergraduate degree (Honours) in Psychology and a Masters in Criminology. Dr Guggisberg received her PhD from The University of Western Australia for her investigation of the interrelationship between intimate partner violence victimisation, mental health impacts and health risk behaviours as a way of coping. She is known for her research on sensitive topics such as sexual victimisation of women and children in the context of family violence. Her work has included co-editing and co-writing several books and numerous peer-reviewed articles and reports as well as being an examiner of research dissertations and a reviewer of manuscripts for numerous academic journals. She is interested in emerging forms of intimate partner violence such as the role of technology-facilitated abuse. Her longstanding interest is in research that can be translated into action in an attempt to break the intergenerational cycle of family violence.


Dr Nicola Cheyne


Nicola Cheyne joined the Centre in May 2016 and has assisted in a number of research projects, including evaluations of police training on domestic violence and integrated responses to sexual violence. Nicola has undergraduate degrees in behavioural sciences and criminology and criminal justice, with Honours and a PhD in criminology and criminal justice. Her doctoral research was on stalking victimisation while her Honours research project was a gendered analysis of the use of the provocation defence. She has recently moved into a lecturing position and is looking forward to teaching as well as continuing to work on research projects with the team within the Centre.


Colleen Gunning

Coordinator, Education and Development

Colleen Gunning joined the QCDFVR in December 2013 as part of a career in the education and health sectors. Colleen has worked in primary, secondary and tertiary education settings, and on a range of public health issues, including mental health promotion, alcohol and other drugs and injury prevention. She has post-graduate qualifications in Education and Health Science (Public Health).


Mark Walters

VET Teacher

Mark’s work in behavioral change spans 30 years in which he has delivered front line interventions in the form of client counselling, behavioral change programs, professional development and training.

Mark is one of the principle trainers in the Common Risk and Safety Framework as part of establishment of the High-Risk Teams in the Queensland trial sites.

Mark serves as a board member on the Queensland Death Review and Advisory Board that works with the coroner to make recommendations to Government on improving service provision for those who have died as a result of domestic and family violence.

Patrice Zarzecki

Contract Resource Officer

We welcome Patrice Zarzecki who has come on board with CQU as a Contract Resource Officer for the School of Nursing and Midwifery. Patrice will be procuring and managing contracts between QCDFVR and various stakeholders in the areas of education, research and sector development. Patrice has come most recently from Queensland State Government where she worked in the area of Procurement and Contract Management, procuring and managing services provided by state government funded organisations. Patrice has previously worked for the State Government developing and implementing costing tools used in the procurement of services with non-government organisations having facilitated training on these tools throughout Queensland. Patrice is a Mackay local and has returned after a number of years in South East Queensland where she attained her degree in International Business with an International Business Economics major through Griffith University. Patrice was also a member of the National College of Business on the Gold Coast for a number of years, running her own small business whilst mentoring other Gold Coast small business owners on continual improvement practices. Patrice also has a passion for health and wellbeing for women and is a Certified Integrative Health Coach, having studied at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition based in New York. Patrice coaches women on the importance of self care and building healthy relationships with oneself, food, friends and family, physical activity and spirituality by providing the appropriate tools, education and ongoing support to build a healthy lifestyle from the ground up and maintain healthy lifestyle changes in the long run.

Lauren Pattie

Project Support Officer

Lauren started with the Centre in December 2011, after relocating to Mackay from Brisbane. During her time with the Centre, she has also worked with local community organisations such as the Mackay Domestic Violence Resource Service and YIRS. These experiences have helped her not only connect with the local community, but have provided her with a better understanding of the professional needs and challenges faced by practitioners in the domestic and family violence sector and wider community sectors.

She brings this knowledge to her role as Project Support Officer, when assisting with the planning and promoting of events and resources.

Margaret Roche

Administration Officer

Margaret started with the Centre in October 2016 as a part time Administration Officer.

Margaret has worked in a number of administrative roles at Mackay Regional Council. More recently, her career has been in the media, working for the Seven Network and Bright Light Marketing.

Margaret is studying accounting through CQ University.

Her role at the Centre is to provide administrative support to the Centre’s staff.

Michaela Pieterse

Research Worker

Michaela has recently joined the Centre as of January 2020, she will be working in a research worker position in the QCDFVR Mackay office and will assist QCDFVR staff on a range of research projects.

Michaela has an undergraduate degree in social sciences, majoring in health and society, and completed her Honours in the same field from the University of Queensland. Her Honours thesis drew upon criminological theory to analyse post-conflict victimisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with the aim to understand the groups at greatest risk of victimisation in the aftermath of conflict.

At this early stage of her career she’s thrilled to be a part of a research institute that is immersed at the community and sector level to produce meaningful research to inform policy and practice within the domestic and family violence and sexual assault landscape.