ARAFEMI supports research, which progresses the principles of psycho - social rehabilitation and recovery for both people with a mental illness and those that care for them. ARAFEMI believes that research is essential for the field of mental health to promote development of evidence based good practice (via research and evaluation) and learning. ARAFEMI has particular interest in research in the area(s) of families and carers of people with a mental illness and mutual support and self help models.

As such, ARAFEMI has formulated its own Code of Good Research Practice, on the basis of NH&MRC Guidelines, with the intention of promoting good research practice, of encouraging integrity in research, and of providing workable guidelines for both internal research and / or individuals and organizations seeking support from ARAFEMI.


Current Research 

"Beyond Diagnosis" summary of findings released 

A research paper titled "Beyond Diagnosis. Exploring perspectives of people who care for and support someone experiencing mental illness" has been developed. It was based on research conducted through Melbourne University under the title "Making sense of a mental illness: perspectives of carers in Melbourne." To read the summary of findings click here 


Invitation to Participate in Research on Caring for a Person with Schizophrenia

Cegedim Strategic Data is conducting a research project in co-operation with the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia, looking into the experience of those who provide unpaid care for a family member, partner or friend who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and are recruiting carers to participate in the study.

The purpose of the study is to understand the role of carers, and their experience of being a carer.

For more information about the study click here

Views of people affected by psychosis 

The Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia is undertaking a project on behalf of Psychosis Australia Trust to enable the views of people affected by psychosis including carers, families and friends to be given the right amount of consideration when establishing an agenda for psychosis research in Australia.

Do you need more information or support about psychosis or other mental illness for yourself or someone you care about? Call Mi Networks on 1800 985 944

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is a condition where the functioning of a person’s brain is severely disrupted, affecting that person’s thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviour. Like any other illness, psychosis is treatable and can happen to anyone. Psychotic symptoms can occur in an isolated episode or as part of an ongoing diagnosed illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression or schizoaffective disorder. Want to learn more about psychosis? Please read our Fact Sheet

MIFA and PAT  need  your help to complete three surveys over a period of about 8 weeks to help us understand your priorities. Some of you may have participated in one of these projects with us before where we gradually refine our list of priorities with as many people as want to join us.

Follow this link to our site to register your interest and complete the first survey.

Do you need more information or support about psychosis or other mental illness for yourself or someone you care about? Call Mi Networks on 1800 985 944

Carer Research

ARAFEMI has a particular focus on contributing to research on carers of people who have a mental illness, recovery practice and self help support models. We actively engage in service evaluation and research that is used to improve our services and contribute to the broader mental health field. 

National Ageing Research Institute IMPACCT
(Improving Mood through Physical Activity for Carers and Care recipients Trial)

The National Ageing Research Institute is currently running a research study that aims to tackle depression among older carers.

IMPACCT (Improving Mood through Physical Activity for Carers and Care recipients Trial) is a three-year study funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The study investigates the effectiveness of an exercise program in reducing depression and improving the wellbeing of older people and their carers.

They are currently recruiting participants for this study. Participants must be aged over 60, caring for somebody also aged over 60, and be experiencing some signs of depression (to be determined by telephone screening).

For more information click here
For the invitation to participate in this research click here 

Literature Analysis to determine the best models for Carer Peer Workers

ARAFEMI Victoria undertook a review of literature for evidence to ascertain best practice models for mental health Carer Peer Support Workers, Carer Consultants, Carer Advocates and Carer Advisors and to make available evidence for future workforce planning and development. The research also aimed to identify ways to increase appropriate carer support, participation and advocacy within a Western Australian context via the development of evidence-based and replicable implementation models.

To read the full report click here [Note: 1.4MB] 

Partnerships for better mental health worldwide: World Psychiatric Association recommendations on best practices in working with service users and family carers

WPA President M. Maj established the Task Force on Best Practice in Working with Service Users and Carers in 2008, chaired by H. Herrman. A set of ten recommendations for good practice was developed by the WPA Task Force. These recommendations were the basis for a worldwide consultation of stakeholders with expertise as service users, families and carers, and the WPA Board and Council. The results showed a strong consensus across the international mental health community on the ten recommendations, with the strongest agreement coming from service users and carers. To read more click here 

2011 ARAFEMI Victorian Carer Advocate Program Research Report

The ARAFEMI Victorian Carer Advocate Program was implemented in September 2009 as a pilot program. Since its inception, the aim of the program has been:

  • to provide an independent, service-neutral, state-wide Carer Advocacy Program in Victoria. 
  • to improving the responsiveness of the mental health system to Carers and mental health consumers alike.

The newly released 18 month evaluation report outlines the development of the program, results and recommendations.

To download a copy of the Executive Summary click here

To read the full report please email [email protected]


Other recent research includes:

The Experience and Support Needs of Adult Siblings of People with Mental Illness

This is a report prepared by the Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia.

In keeping with  their 'whole of family' approach, MIFA  has just completed a review of current literature about the experiences and support needs of the adult siblings of people with mental illness.  To read the report click here

Project Report: Gathering Lived Experience Phase II June 2010

This report follows on from the initial literature review and research on peer support for carers in mental health. It progresses the recommendations into the development and implementation on a carer peer support position within an acute and community mental health setting. It provides a step by step and 'in-time' report of how the project was developed as well as evaluating the initial pilot outcomes. This is great reading for services and individuals considering peer support.

Phase II report

Carer Involvement Project: Gathering Lived Experience

The purpose of the Peer Mentoring Project is to develop an evidence-based and replicable peer mentoring support service for carers of people with a mental illness. There are lots of peer groups around, however this is a one-on-one support service based both at the inpatient unit and another community health service within the Northern region.

This report presents a body of knowledge and practical tips around carer needs, peer support and mentoring models. It identifies service gaps and to assist in the design of a workable model the report also presents a map of Victorian carer peer support services and relevant mentoring models nationally. The undertaking of this phase of the project involved a survey of 500 studies and scholastic articles furthermore, a research of programs and publications was carried out for all major mental health organisations in Victoria.  In light of this review, recommendations are put forward for a prospective peer mentoring pilot program to commence in 2009 in the North.

Download the Carer Involvement Project: Gathering Lived Experience

Carer Consultation Report

This paper is part of a service evaluation and carer consultation conducted by ARAFEMI. Carers responded to information on current service and support needs, issues faced as carers, future service / support needs and the role of carers in advocacy.

Using social research methods to gather qualitative and quantitative information, the results are based on
a sample size of 147 survey respondents, and 66 carers who attended 5 community focus groups and/or provided extended individual feedback. In addition, research literature into the needs of carers of people with mental illness was analysed and reviewed in the context of both a recovery model and the Carer Life Course Framework (Carers NSW, 2005).

Download the Carer Consultation Report


ARAFEMI maintains partnerships and links with a range of mental health organisations, Universities and research organisations that have a specialist focus on mental health and carers. Through these associations, ARAFEMI can support and contribute to research that improves and promotes the well being of people affected by mental illness. Research areas include experiential perspectives, theoretical ideas, and evidence based research that progress knowledge on mental health, with particular emphasis on carers. Our experience in this field assists us to maintain a unique focus on the needs of carers and consumers.

Current Research Requests

ARAFEMI supports a range of research projects undertaken by organisations, networks, Masters and Doctorate students and professional staff, by distributing information and advertising for research participants. Our ‘news and events’ is also a sharing place for information and research across mental health.

If you are interested in becoming involved or contributing to current research projects please follow the links below for further information:

Consumer and Carer Peer Work Qualification Development Project survey

Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA), are undertaking the coordination of a Peer Work Qualification Development Project funded by the National Mental Health Commission. This project will develop training and assessment resources for both the consumer and carer streams of the qualification. A national survey forms part of the consultation process to inform the initial development of key content areas for training delivery. 

For more information about CMHA’s Consumer and Carer Peer Work Qualification Development Project contact: Chris Keyes – Project Manager [email protected] 

For more information about who is eligible to participate in the survey click here  

Respecting Patient Choices program survey

Do you provide care or support for somebody who receives mental health treatment? How much do you know about their treatment preferences? The Respecting Patient Choices program, Austin Health, is running a research project to investigate family member/carer knowledge and opinions about advance statements for mental health treatment and care.

Further information and access to the survey click here

If you have any questions about the project, please contact Rachel Mountjoy on (03) 9496 6664. 

Carer Perspectives on the use of Community Treatment Orders survey

Community Treatment Orders (CTO) have been available in Victoria since 1987. Where a person meets criteria under the Mental Health Act (MHA) they can be compelled to receive treatment for their mental illness. This project aims to get your views on whether you feel the CTO to have been of benefit or not, your knowledge of mental illness, and the impact of the mental illness on you as a carer. It will also ask about your experience of mental health services as a carer, and what you understand of Recovery Oriented care.  

For more information about the survey contact Dr Ruth Vine, Director of Clinical Services on (03) 9377 3400, email [email protected] or click here

To undertake the survey click here

Using computers to help mental health concerns survey

Computerised and online interventions are an exciting and innovative progression for any person working with children, adolescents or adults with mental health concerns. Though computerised intervention programs were first established over a decade ago, we still have very little idea as to what professionals working with these populations really think about this method of providing therapy. As such, a research team from Griffith University and the University of Southern Queensland is looking for professionals from a variety of different backgrounds, across all parts of the country, to have their say on computerised therapy.

Interested participants can learn more about this research and/or register to participate by clicking here 

Blackdog Institute - Cognitive Styles in Mood Disorders

Lifengage - Acceptance and Commitment therapy for medication resistant pyshosis

A support program for family members who have a relative with psychosis - Illawarra Institute for Mental Health

Problem Drinking Survey-    University of Melbourne

Problem Drug Use Survey-    University of Melbourne

Development of Guidelines for Carers of a Person with a Bipolar Disorder Project-    University of Melbourne)

Alternative treatment for the symptoms of schizophrenia-    Alfred Hosptal

Early electrophysiological markers of schizophrenia in young infants-    Swinburne University  

Black Dog Institute - Two Studies About Bipolar Disorder


schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder 6 week trial of add-on Glycine treatment Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre

If you are interested in promoting your research through our website - please follow the following guidelines:

Guidelines for organisations and students seeking support with research

Recently Published Carer Research

Robinson, R., Rodgers, B., & Butterworth, P. (2008). Family relationships and mental illness: Impacts and service responses. Australia: Australian Institute of Family Studies