Rachel Carson

Executive Manager

Family Law, Family Violence & Elder Abuse

Dr Rachel Carson is a Senior Research Fellow and Executive Manager/Program Lead of the Family Law, Family Violence and Elder Abuse Research Team at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She has twenty years’ experience undertaking socio-legal research focusing on the Australian family law system, including examining the intersections between the family law system and family violence, and particularly legislative, policy and practice reforms designed to improve the system.

After practising as a family lawyer, Rachel worked as a researcher in family law at the Melbourne Law School (University of Melbourne) and was awarded a Melbourne Research Scholarship to undertake her PhD in this field of research. Since joining the Institute in June 2012, Rachel has worked on a range of significant research projects, including the Independent Children’s Lawyer Study and the Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments Project. Rachel was the lead researcher for the Children and Young People in Separated Families: Family Law System Experiences and Needs project, the Direct Cross-examination in Family Law Matters Study.

Rachel recently led the Evaluation of the Small Claims Property Pilot (PPP500) operating in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia and Evaluation of the Legal Aid Commission Trial of Lawyer-assisted Property Mediation. Both large scale, mixed method evaluations were commissioned by the Australian Attorney-General’s Department. Rachel also managed mixed-method research investigating compliance with and enforcement of family law parenting orders commissioned by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

Rachel is currently managing the mixed-method Evaluation of the Children’s Contact Service Activity, together with reviews of literature relating to coercive control and in relation to nature, extent and dynamics of family violence and other forms of violence against women. Additionally, Rachel is managing the Institute’s contribution to the Future-proofing Safety – COVID 19 and Family Violence project.

Rachel is also currently managing the Evaluation of the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older Australians, and she has previously contributed to the Institute’s elder abuse scoping studies and the Elder Abuse National Research Program. This research program included the recently completed the National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study.

Rachel has contributed to research undertaken for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and to the work of the Institute’s Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) and Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information hub.

Rachel has represented the Institute in various capacities, including at the Senate Estimates Hearings and as a recently appointed member of Family Law Council, an independent body of experts that provides advice on family law to the Australian Attorney-General.


LLB(Hons)(Melb), BA(Melb), PhD(Law)(Melb), Admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia.