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Domain 3
Personal and family safety

Family Safety Contact: Improving family safety and connectedness

We provide a Family Safety Contact service to establish safety and support for partners and former partners of participants in our Men’s Behaviour Change Programs (MBCPs). In a 2020 report, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) found that by providing a Family Safety Contact service – which incorporates case management, counselling and support for people experiencing violence – not only is the safety of families enhanced, but the efficacy of the MBCP is improved (ANROWS, 2020). Including the perspectives of victim-survivors is an important priority for future research and evaluations of family violence services as well as perpetrator interventions (Bell & Coates, 2022). Our Family Safety Contact service has implemented a routine survey to collect a combination of qualitative and quantitative data about the impact of the service, as well as the MBCP.

In 2022–23, Family Safety Contact respondents identified that they felt validated and had an increased confidence around their decision to leave their previous relationship where applicable. Additionally, they reported an increased ability to relate and empathise with their children, and generally felt stronger and more relaxed about both their current and future family situation.

When asked to identify the best aspect of the Family Safety Contact service, respondents overwhelmingly spoke to the importance of continuity of care from a person who understood the specific issues and challenges that the respondents faced.

In relation to the impact of MBCPs on their partners or former partners, 50% of respondents identified a positive change. The most notable change was in parenting and positive interactions with children, followed by a decrease in violent behaviour and an improvement in overall behaviour and attitudes.

‘I have become more confident in how I deal with the circumstance around me, both by making supported choices for myself and my children and how to communicate with others about our situation.’

Family Safety Contact client

Men’s Behaviour Change Programs: Improving emotional self-regulation and accountability

We have been delivering MBCPs in various formats since 2005 and are one of the largest providers of these programs in Victoria. Drawing on a strong evidence base and informed by national standards and guidelines, our 20-week MBCP curriculum focuses on promoting gender equality, holding men accountable for using violent and controlling behaviour, challenging attitudes and beliefs underlying this behaviour, teaching healthy relationships skills, building empathy and emotional regulation, and increasing personal insight and awareness of the impact of violence on women and children. We frequently contribute to the strategic development of perpetrator responses and building the evidence base of the Victorian specialist family violence service system.

We routinely collect anonymous pre- and post-program surveys from MBCP participants, through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. These self-assessment surveys are focused on the key learning areas and skills taught in the program. In 2022–23, 4 key areas were self-assessed as having the greatest change (see Top 4 areas of self-assessed change in MBCP survey). These results show that MBCP participants have begun to build an understanding of the negative impact that their violent behaviour has on those around them, as well as a greater ability to manage their emotions and actions in times of stress.

Participants were asked to identify the most significant change for them and their families as a result of the program, and then rate the extent of this change on a scale of 1–10. This question was adapted from the Most Significant Change evaluation technique (Davies & Dart, 2005). The responses were looked at in relation to the 7 outcome areas in the MBCP program logic. The largest self-reported changes were in the areas of increased awareness of what constitutes family violence, emotional regulation, empathy and personal insight.

‘I’ve got so much to learn about myself and my feelings. Opening myself up to learning and listening to help create a better me for the future.’

MBCP participant

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