About us

Providing evidence to improve family-sector policy and practice

About AIFS

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) is a Melbourne-based Australian Government statutory agency. It was established in 1980 under the Family Law Act 1975.

AIFS’ mission is to conduct high-quality, impartial research into the wellbeing of Australian families, to inform government policy and promote evidence-based practice in the family services sector.

AIFS also incorporates the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC), which was established under the Gambling Measures Act 2012. AIFS’ Director governs AGRC’s operations.

AIFS operates within the portfolio of the Department of Social Services (DSS) and is responsible to the Minister for Social Services.

Executive team

Executive team

AIFS’ executive team is responsible for the overall management of AIFS’ research program and operations.

Sharman Stone


Hon Dr Sharman Stone BA (Hons), MA, Grad Dip Ed (Tert), PhD was appointed Director of AIFS on 1 May 2022. She is known for her longstanding engagement in research and policy influence in relation to gender equity and the eradication of gender-based violence. Sharman has qualifications in anthropology, sociology, education and economics and was the government’s representative on the Australian Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. She was an academic at the Institute for Early Childhood Development and at Monash University, a Senior Executive in the Victorian Public Service and Manager for International Development for the University of Melbourne. She was elected to the Federal Parliament in 1996. Her 20-year parliamentary career included appointments to six government or shadow Ministerial or Assistant Minister portfolios.

Sharman was Australia’s global Ambassador for Women and Girls from 2017 to 2020. In 2020 she became the Professor of Practice in Gender, Politics and International Relations at Monash University. She is widely published on community development, water policy, Australian race relations and gender equity.

Rae Kaspiew

Research Director (Systems and Services)

Dr Rae Kaspiew BA (Melb), LLB (Hons) (Melb), PhD (Law) (Melb) is a socio-legal researcher with particular expertise in family law, family violence and elder abuse. Prior to her appointment as Research Director, Systems and Services, she was Executive Manager of the Family Law, Family Violence and Elder Abuse research program at AIFS. She has been involved in an extensive range of studies and is the lead author of two large scale evaluations of successive waves of reforms in family law (the 2006 and 2012 reforms). She led the team that completed the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study in 2021.

Chris Schilling

Research Director (Demographics and Data)

Prior to his appointment at AIFS, Dr Chris Schilling PhD was a Director at KPMG, where he led the Health Economics practice responsible for a range of large-scale economic evaluation and modelling engagements using linked and longitudinal data. He has a double degree in Engineering (Hons)/ Commerce (Hons) from the University of Melbourne, and an MSc in Agricultural Economics from the University of Hohenheim, Germany. His PhD in Health Economics was completed at the University of Melbourne where his thesis included a range of publications using individual-level observational data.

Michael Alexander

Chief Operating Officer

Dr Michael Alexander BEc (Hons) (Adelaide), PhD (Employment Relations) (Griffith) is responsible for the management of services to support the Institute's research activity, including human and financial resources and communications services.



Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) Expert Advisory Group

The AGRC Expert Advisory Group provides advice on the strategic directions, research plans and programs of the Australian Gambling Research Centre.

Risk Assessment and Audit Committee (RAAC)

The Risk Assessment and Audit Committee (RAAC) ensures effective and efficient use of public resources by reviewing the performance and operation of the Institute’s internal controls and performance management systems.

Ethics Committee

The Ethics Committee is a Human Research Ethics Committee registered with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The committee ensures that all projects AIFS undertakes are ethical and respectful of participants. The committee comprises eight members, consisting of: a chairperson; three lay people (a man and two women); one lawyer; one person with relevant research experience; one person who performs a pastoral care role in the community; and one person with knowledge of, and current experience in, professional care, counselling or treatment of people.