Reflection on presentation to Charles Sturt University Human Research Ethics Committee on Attuned Trauma-Safe Research - The STARR Model

Activity: Scholarly activities in Learning and Teaching reflectionProfessional and scholarly communities reflection


This was the first seminar presentation in a series of presentations to the CSU HREC on the STARR Enabling model for facilitating the safe and ethical participation of children and young people in domestic violence research, the STARR model also having applicability to improving the engagement and inclusion of people with disability and vulnerabilities in other types of sensitive social research. The STARR model can be utilised for consultation processes and in investigative processes. This presentation discussed the PhD research study on the Barriers & Enablers to conducting domestic violence research with children which led to the development of the STARR model.
The presentation was significant because it brought to light and discussed the ethical challenges which confront ethics committee members when they are reviewing research applications which involve vulnerable cohorts and sensitive social research. The exploratory study which resulted in the STARR model involved 49 participants from across five diverse cohorts: mothers with experiences of domestic violence, domestic violence service providers, child clinicians, domestic violence researchers and HREC members. Evidence from ethics committee members who participated in the PhD research illustrated the challenges they face and the duty of care they carry when reviewing ethics applications about issues such as domestic violence, and the inherent safety and risk factors which are foremost considerations for HRECs. Scrutiny of risks, the critical impetrative to safeguard research participants, concerns about the possibility of retraumatisation and addressing vulnerability were areas covered in this seminar.
The HREC was introduced to the STARR model: SAFE, TRAUMA-SAFE, ACTIVITY-BASED, RELATIONAL, RIGHTS-BASED and the principles under these points of reference which can assist the committee in their ethical decision making.
Positive feedback was received from the HREC, and an invitation was given to provide additional seminars and professional development sessions to the committee. This seminar presentation identified the opportunities that exist more broadly in providing continuing professional development sessions on sensitive social research, trauma-safe research and how issues of vulnerability in sensitive social research can be addressed. The seminar presentation confirmed the value of STARR in guiding ethical decision making in the approval of research applications, and in the conduct of the research. As a result of this seminar, I am recognising that potentially STARR has greater useability beyond the research area. For example, it could be utilised as a model for social work ethical practice. All the points of reference for STARR are equally key considerations across the domains of social work practice (micro, mezzo, and macro practice). I seek to further develop these ideas and possibly incorporate STARR into my teaching, particularly in social work theory and practice 1 (micro practice).    

Period10 Nov 2021
Event titleSTARR Attuned Trauma-Safe Research
Event typeOnline presentation
LocationAustralia, New South WalesShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational