The Family Violence Prevention Foundation of Australia


Matthew Ryan

Police Superintendent Matthew Ryan has been selected to represent District 9800 on a vocational exchange of experts in family violence being arranged between Rotary District 9800 and District 6840, centred on New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. The exchange program is supported by Violence Free Families. Matthew is the sole superintendent in the Victoria Police Family Violence Command established in March 2015. He leads a team of 50 staff working collaboratively to prevent and reduce the harm caused by child abuse, sexual assault, and family violence.

Superintendent Ryan will travel to the United States for two weeks in late March. He will be hosted there by local Rotarians and will study the work of police and other agencies involved with domestic violence. He will also speak at the District 6840 Conference being held at the Island View Casino & Resort in Gulfport, Louisiana.

District 6840 has also selected an expert in the field to spend two weeks in Victoria looking at ways the various agencies here tackle the growing problem of family violence. That person will speak at the District 9800 Conference in Bendigo on 12th March.

This exchange of vocational leaders in the field grew out of the very successful Group Study Exchange (GSE) run between Districts 9800 and 6840 in March and April 2015. At the time of that GSE, the team leaders, DGN Peter Frueh (9800) and Carl Michel (6840) agreed that domestic violence was a major issue in both communities and that by having a vocational exchange of this sort the relationship between our two Rotary Districts would be enhanced in a meaningful way. It is intended that the exchange will be hosted by each District for two weeks each year for three years.

Superintendent Matthew Ryan says that “This exchange will inspire me to be innovative in the way I lead police to combat family violence in Victoria. I feel privileged to be selected and am very grateful to Rotary for allowing me to represent Victoria in this way.” He is keen to create positive lasting links with family violence professionals in the USA.

Prior to establishing the Family Violence Command, Matthew was the Superintendent in charge of the Victoria Police State Emergency Response Division. He was the Police Commander for the Murrindindi and Mitchell Shires for three months during and after the 2009 Black Saturday fires. He has worked in metropolitan and rural Victoria as a police operative, detective, supervisor and manager. From 2001, he spent five years planning and delivering the security overlay for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

In 2008, Matthew was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chadstone – East Malvern as a participant in the first Rotary Victoria Police Leadership Mentoring Program. He is an accomplished speaker and has spoken at Rotary Clubs, police conferences and various community forums.

Matthew has been married for 29 years. He and his wife have four sons.

His trip has been made possible by a travel grant from the Rotary Club of Balwyn. The leadership of District 9800 and Violence Free Families are very appreciative of the Balwyn Club’s generous support of this new vocational exchange and wishes to place on record their grateful thanks to the club.

Past District Governor, Rotary District 9800
Murray Verso

In the past six months, significant milestones were passed on our two major projects and we enjoyed the continued warm and enthusiastic support of our Ambassador Colleen Hewett and her manager, Danny Finley, as well as that of several major donors and many smaller ones.

The Online Men’s Behavior Change Program

Following the excellent evaluation report by the University of Melbourne, we signed a contract with On the Line Australia for the provision of the first regular online men’s behaviour change program, to commence in February, 2016.

This has required a revision of program documentation, assisting OTL with systems for implementation and OTL staff training.

At the same time, we are seeking registration of the program in NSW and the extensive documentation required for this process is well advanced.


Data collection for our research study into the long term results of conventional men’s behaviour change programs was completed and analysis and documentation is in progress. Publication of results and two seminars for professionals are planned for the next half year.

Fund Raising and Community Relations

Colleen Hewett and some outstanding performers gave a concert in October to a near-capacity audience in the new Bendigo Ulumbarra Theatre and generously donated part of the proceeds to VFF.

Our programs could not have continued without the generous support of several philanthropic trusts and we are most grateful to them.

We welcomed the continuing official recognition of our program by Rotary, and our information stand at the annual Australia-New Zealand Rotary Zone Institute Meeting in Sydney was very well-patronised. Members of Violence Free Families addressed many clubs and organisations in the half-year period, spreading awareness of family violence and our contribution to prevention.


The Board was delighted to welcome new Director Gabe Hau in November and his contributions have already been of great value.

Dr David Smyth


The Rotary Club of Glen Eira and the Carnegie Cricket Club will be hosting a Summer Community Luncheon to Prevent Domestic Violence in the club rooms at Koornang Park, Carnegie on Saturday 30th of January 2016 from 12:30pm – 2:30pm.

Tickets are $35 per person (with separate $10 all-you- can-eat BBQ tickets for kids), with proceeds going to Violence Free Families and other Rotary projects.

Guest speakers include Assistant Police Commissioner Stephen Fontana and Domestic Violence Survivor & Advocate Kristy McKellar.

Book online at
View the printable pdf flyer

Violence Free Families works for the elimination of all forms of family violence. We believe that Research, Innovation and Education can help improve the lives of vulnerable children and women, and help curb the incidence of family violence.