Activism through Research

Erin Cassell

Melbourne researcher Erin Cassell recalls volunteering to do a few hours work evaluating an ACRATH project. That was 10 years ago and since then she has done several major evaluations, which were used in Federal Government grant applications and reports. Erin has also taken on many research projects, the latest looking at coronial reports into NSW and Victorian family violence murders to determine how data relating to a forced marriage might be identified and collected.

Erin is one of many volunteers across Australia who works to combat human trafficking and her contribution is being acknowledged during ACRATH’s 16 Days campaign. The United Nations 16 days of activism against gender-based violence begins on 25th November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on 10th December – Human Rights Day.

Human trafficking, a $150 billion global industry, is one of the greatest examples of violence against women and girls. Millions of women and girls are forced to marry, or to work in slave like conditions for little, or no, pay and no chance of an education.

Erin, a Senior Research Fellow (Adjunct), Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit, Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), admits her understanding of human trafficking was limited until she began volunteering with ACRATH.

In the decade since she first offered her skills, she has influenced the way ACRATH collects and manages data. An important aspect of her work has been developing grids for staff and volunteers to record their work in the community.

“It’s very important when applying for grants, and doing grant evaluations, that you can show that you did what you said you would do,” Erin said.

For someone who put her hand up for a few hours work more than 10 years ago, Erin has tackled major ACRATH projects like a desk top research project on rubber gloves made in factories in Malaysia. She served on the working party established to guide the partnership work of ACRATH and St Vincent’s Health Australia and co-wrote the final report with an ACRATH staff member.

Her current research involves trawling through public coronial reports to determine if any relate to a forced marriage. It isn’t ‘happy reading’ but she’s had a career looking deeply into accidents and incidents to determine how events happened and what might be done differently. Complicating factors such as culture, isolation, language barriers, and a lack of education surround forced marriage. Erin doesn’t believe the current method of collecting data in a family violence murder has the capacity to ‘catch’ information that might indicate a forced marriage was involved.

“But I enjoy this sort of research and I can do it from the comfort of my lounge chair,” Erin said.

For more 16 Days Against Gender -based Violence Campaign information and resources click here.


Leave a Comment