project info 

outcomes from this project

If you'd like more information about the project or have any questions, please get in touch with me via the Contact the researcher page. I have also developed some recommendations arising from this project that I hope will be useful for people who have discovered a family secret in their own family, or in someone else’s family, as many genealogists do. You can access those recommendations from the Outcomes page.


The data collection phase is almost complete - thank you to all my participants so far for their generosity in taking part. Participants have been asked to share their family secret story with me in an interview or written exchange, and to reflect on what the impacts have been for them and those around them.

You’re likely to be eligible if you are aged over 18, fluent in English, and have discovered or otherwise experienced a reproductive family secret at least two years ago that you’re prepared to share. This two-year buffer aims to ensure people have had some time to process their experience before deciding to participate in this study.


This project is supervised by A/Prof Deb Dempsey, a sociologist and researcher, and A/Prof Roger Cook, a clinical and counselling psychologist and researcher, both from Swinburne University.

benefits of participation and potential for distress

It is possible that sharing personal stories of family secrets will be enjoyable, and people may gain insight, meaning or clarity into some aspects of your own life. I hope so!

This being said, discussing or writing about personal topics can sometimes bring up emotions. I want to be clear with my participants that they are welcome to share as little or as much as they want to about their family story. There are supports in place if anything comes up during or after participation. Participation is completely voluntary, and people can terminate or pause their involvement at any time, and decide to withdraw their contribution at any point up until the data has been processed.

privacy and anonymity

All interviews or written exchanges will be confidential and participation is anonymous. All data collected will be de-identified and a number of privacy-preserving techniques applied so that no one will be able to read any of my work and identify any individual participant or their family member. Data (including transcripts, contact details and recordings) is kept on Swinburne University's secure cloud server. The only person able to access any of this original material is me.  

about Katy

I'm a qualified social worker, and I have a background in social policy, research coordination and family violence policy and project work. I'm a member of The Australian Sociological Association and part of their Families and Relationships group. I'm also a member of the European Sociological Society, and a member of their Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives research network. I work as a grant manager in the health and medical education field and freelance writer.

My contact email address is katy.barbier.greenland @  

Thank you for your support! 



Image: Clay Banks

Image: Clay Banks