The Family Violence Prevention Foundation of Australia


Horses for Causes

Opportunity of a lifetime

This exciting collection of life-size fibre glass horses have come together for the first and last time as they are up for sale.  Yes, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own one of these unique art horses.  They can be previewed in Brunswick, Melbourne every Saturday until the 11th November, on Wednesday the 15th November or by private appointment.

For all enquiries, event sales and preview appointment times

Auction Details

A wine and cheese event hosted by Rotary to facilitate the sale of the Art Horse Collection.

The aim is to raise funds for the Online Men’s Behaviour Change Program.


Saturday 14, 21, 28 Oct, 04, 11 Nov
10am – 2pm
FREE entry viewing of exhibition

By appointment Monday – Friday.
Call Robyn Lichter on 0418 548 486  or Barry Hickman 0416 088 851

Wednesday 15 Nov, 2017, 6.30pm
RSVP: 10 November 2017
Wine & cheese
Book your free ticket here


10 November 2017


National Storage
60 Dawson St, Brunswick, VIC 3026

James Clark
Anthony & Belinda Dowell
Ivan Durrant
John Evans
Penelope Gibson
Declan Hallinan
Eleanor Hart
Franciscus Henri
Allen Hicks
Pamela Irving
Ellen Jose
Phoebe Kalaitzis
Alison Lester
Fleur McArthur
Bridget McCormack
Jenny McCracken
Daniel Moynihan
Ian Napier
Mark Ogge
Eric Quah
Alex Rowland
Victor Rubin
Jo Slattery
Jo Jo Spook
Ulla Taylor
Wayne Tindall
Susan Wardrop
Daniel Woodman
Phillip Woodman
Joseph Zbukvic

The cost of family violence in Victoria

The Department of Social Services in Canberra has released a 2016 report by KPMG that estimates the national cost of violence against women and children as $22 bn each year.

Download the summary report here

KPMG also believes that a further $4 bn in costs may be incurred for vulnerable groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, but it does not yet have adequate data for such groups to be confident of the figure. This is a significant increase from a 2009 KPMG report, which estimated $13.6 bn.

KPMG says that part of the increase is due to widening the definition of emotional abuse and stalking as forms of violence, in line with changes by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The definition of violence used includes both domestic and non domestic violence, such as street and workplace violence. Violence Free Families estimates from the KPMG reports that the probable cost of family and domestic violence was about $16.5 bn pa in 2016, up from its previous estimate of $9.3 bn.

KPMG has also prepared a more detailed report for the Victorian Government that can be accessed here.

The programs work, they work well and they work in the long term.

Families affected by violence received good news on Monday 1 May, 2017, when the report a long-running study by Monash University into the outcomes of men’s behaviour change programs was launched by the Hon Marcia Neave, AO at University House, Melbourne. The study showed that the programs work, they work well and they continue to work in the long term.

Ms Neave, Judge in Residence at the Melbourne Law School and former Chairperson of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, related the research to the recommendations of the Royal Commission enquiry and formally launched the report at a function at University House, Melbourne University.

On Monday night Dr David Smyth, Chairperson of Violence Free Families, hosted a launch of the report of this very significant research. Professor Emeritus Thea Brown & Dr Catherine Flynn with assistants from the Monash University Department of Social Work carried out the study on behalf of Violence Free Families.

The Hon Marcia Neave, AO, launching the report with Professor Thea Brown and Dr David Smyth

The study collected data from 270 men over 2 or more years, with 71 remaining in the study at the end – a significant result in a study of this kind.

The men showed a sharp reduction in the nature and severity of violence over the duration of the programs and this reduction is maintained and improved upon in subsequent months and years. Most of the men become violence free or almost violence free two years after their program.

This continued reduction in violence is not without effort. Men fear relapsing and often seek further help. This does not negate the value of the programs, which set them on this path.

There is no evidence that one type of violence is transferred to another, eg, physical to psychological. All types reduce together.

In acknowledging the many supporters of this, the first major study of its kind in Australia, Dr David Smyth, chairperson of Violence Free Families, made special mention of the role of Rotary in supporting the creation of Violence Free Families in 2009 and the early stages of the research and of the generous philanthropists who contributed, The study costs in excess of $500,000 in cash and kind and was entirely funded from charitable sources.

It is a study of international significance. A summary and the full report may be found at

Do Men’s Behaviour Change Programs work in the long term? This, and many other questions about these programs, has vexed professionals, participants and their families for many years.

So, it is with great pleasure that we can now post the research report on our Longitudinal Study into the Effectiveness of Men’s Behaviour Change Programs.

The research was conducted by Professor Emeritus Thea Brown, Professor of Social Work at Monash University and co-author of “Child Abuse and Family Law” Allen and Unwin, 2007, with her associate, Dr Catherine Flynn, and others.

The findings of the study are very optimistic. The men’s behaviour change programs work, they work well and they work in the long term.

Violence Free Families is proud of its role in sponsoring and funding this research and will continue to work hard towards the prevention of family violence in our society.

To view a summary of the report, please click here.

To view the full research report, please fill out the form below to obtain your copy.


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The researchers would welcome any feedback or comment and it may be addressed to

1. Headlines

The programs work, they work well and they work in the long term.

They show a sharp reduction in the nature and severity of violence over the duration of the programs and that this reduction is maintained and improved upon in subsequent months and years. Most of the men become violence free or almost violence free two years after their program.

This continued reduction in violence is not without effort. Men fear relapsing and often seek further help. This does not negate the value of the programs, which set them on this path.

There is no evidence that one type of violence is transferred to another, eg, physical to psychological. All types reduce together.

Mandated men have significantly better results than non-mandated men. This may be due to motivation and the role of Corrections in managing the men and possibly also to the lower incidence of mental health problems among mandated men.

A critical factor in the quality of programs, as viewed by the men, is the quality of the facilitators. The group dynamics are frequently cited as another vital factor. Program design did not seem to play a great part.

2. Reliability

The questionnaire responses showed a lower reduction in the men’s perceptions of the seriousness of their behaviour than did the more objective response to numbers and types of incidents. This probably reflects the improved perception of the consequences of their behaviour and this view was supported by phone interview responses, which reinforced and expanded on the questionnaire information overall.

3. Partner Views

Partners who were in a current relationship with the man, original or new, were positive.

Partners who had separated felt it had not protected them or had come too late.

4. Other Factors

Substance abuse

Approx 27% reported problems with alcohol. This had improved to about 14% in later surveys.

Mental illness

Approx 34% reported mental illness and it might be speculated that this is an underestimate. The most frequent problem reported was depression. This rate did not change.


A high percentage of men (nearly 80%) were in contact with children, including about 7% who were sole parents. The programs do not deal with parenting issues in an adequate way and this is a need that should be addressed more fully.

Ali’s twin sons saw it all. They saw their dad shouting at their mother. They saw him smash a door and shards of glass glinting on the floor. And they saw the police officers, after their mum called for help.

And how did these six-year-old boys feel? Ali* clears his throat. This is not an easy thing to talk about. “Very frightened. They probably lost their trust with me.”

But he says he was relieved, pleased even, his wife called the police to their Melbourne home after he shouted and smashed things. It was not the first time.

The visit from police became a line in the sand, a turning point.

“I knew that what I was doing was wrong, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I was always aware it wasn’t the proper behaviour,” he says.

A court appearance followed, a humiliating experience he never wants to repeat. Ali pleaded guilty to wilful damage and had an intervention order issued against him. Punishment came in the form of a one-year good behaviour bond, and he was ordered to do a behaviour change program.

Men’s behaviour change programs, many with long waiting lists, have become a common penalty meted out to perpetrators of family violence who come before the courts.

But until now, there has been little Australian research.

Now a comprehensive snapshot of 300 Australian men who use violence, and their partners (or ex-partners), over two years, gives cause for optimism. The Monash University study found:

The number of men inflicting violence fell by half across all categories of abusive behaviour, from physical violence to demeaning behaviour.

Their violence didn’t just shift from one area to another. It reduced in all areas, with 65 per cent of the men reporting they were either no longer violent, or almost violence-free, after two years.

About 80 per cent of men saw their abusive behaviour as serious two years after their program finished, compared with 60 before the program.

It was surprising to find the men who improved the most had been ordered by a court to do the program, said co-author Professor Thea Brown, from the uni’s Department of Social Work.

Men’s behavioural change are not an anger-management courses. The counsellors and psychologists who run them try to increase an abuser’s empathy for their victims, and talk about how stereotypical gender roles can be damaging to women.

“Often we have to go back to the grassroots and talk about respect for the views of others,” says Pam Wilkie-Clark, who runs the men’s specialist service at Bethany, in Geelong. The men in her programs often view assertive behaviour from their partners as being aggressive.

Partner’s views on the program varied considerably, Professor Brown said. Those who stayed with the man, or new partners, were very positive. But those who had left were negative, feeling the program had either not protected them, or came too late to matter.
‘That frustration inside me, sometimes it’s hard to cope with’. Ali

During his six-month program at Bethany, Ali realised his approach to parenting was quite different to his wife, and he got very angry at her approach. She was very relaxed while he wanted a strict routine. The main thing he took away from the program was that everyone, including his wife, was entitled to personal choice.

And not everything has been resolved. Before the police were called in, Ali had been to a counsellor a few times about his abusive outbursts. He says he will go back.

“I still sometimes become really frustrated. I don’t react, I never externalise it. But that frustration inside me, sometimes it’s hard to cope with.”

Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence recommended a boost to heavily over-subscribed men’s behavioural change programs. In the most recent budget $1 million was put towards these programs.

The research was funded by Violence Free Families, and will be available online soon.

For help in a crisis call 000.

For family violence help contact Safe Steps: 1800 015 188

*Names have been changed.

Read Miki Perkin’s full article here:


This year has seen the near-completion of our longitudinal study into the outcomes of men’s behaviour change programs by Monash University and preparation for delivering our new online men’s behaviour change program on a large scale.


Data collection for the research study was completed in October and Professor Emeritus Thea Brown, our lead researcher, has presented preliminary findings to numerous organisations, including the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the Department of Health and Human Service (Vic) and other interested organisations.

The key finding is that the programs work, they work well and they work in the long term. This is the largest study ever conducted in Australia, one of very few in the world and contributes substantially to removing past doubts about the outcomes of programs. In addition to the headline findings, there is a great deal of detail that will assist in developing future programs, especially in the area of parenting.

The Online Behavior Change Program

The fourth online men’s behaviour change program ran from February to May and was very successful. We confidently expect that the University of Melbourne’s evaluation report will be as positive as the reports on previous programs.

Clients from three States, regional and urban, and from indigenous and ethnically diverse communities participated. This confirmed the universal need for the program and the reasons that drove this initiative in the first place. We aim to start regular program provision in 2017.

Rotary Exchange Ambassadorships

In February, Rotary District 9800, the Rotary Club of Balwyn and Violence Free Families awarded the first annual Rotary Exchange Ambassadorship for family violence prevention professionals. The Australian awardee, Superintendent Matthew Ryan, deputy head of Victoria Police’s Family Violence prevention unit, travelled to New Orleans and other parts of the USA for eight weeks, gathering information that will benefit the Victorian and Australian community. The incoming exchange ambassador, Marie-Claire Landry from New Orleans, visited Victorian organisations and addressed the District 9800 Annual Conference in Bendigo.

Funding and Community Support

Our Ambassador, Colleen Hewett and her manager, Danny Finley, continued to support us and publicise our cause. They presented to a sold-out concert in Bendigo and Colleen did radio and TV interviews and continued to air her anti-violence anthem, ‘Let me Breathe’.

We welcomed the continuing official recognition of our programs by Rotary. Generous donations were received from Women in Rotary and clubs, as well as philanthropic trusts and individual donors. Many family violence prevention presentations were made to community organisations, spreading awareness of family violence and our contributions to prevention.

Dr David Smyth

27th – 29th September 2016 | Crowne Plaza, Melbourne

Just under half a million Australian women reported that they had experienced physical or sexual violence in the past 12 months, according to the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre and over a million women have experienced physical or sexual assault by their current or ex-partner since the age of 15. These figures demonstrate a great need for significant reform in the area of domestic and family violence.

With the Victorian Government committing $527 million to addressing domestic and family violence earlier this year, the NSW Government followed suit and pledged $300m in June. It is vital that not for profit agencies implement strategies to increase their scalability and capacity to continue delivering important services.

Akolade’s 2nd Breaking the Cycle of Domestic and Family Violence Conference, which will be held on 27-29 September in Melbourne, provides a timely opportunity to explore how front-line services can utilise this funding to improve organisational efficiency.

Attend and hear from senior leaders in this sector including:

  • Rebecca Poulson, Chief Executive Officer, The Poulson Family Foundation, Author, ‘Killing Love’
  • Amy J Sanchez, Chief Executive Officer, Break the Cycle, Minnesota, US
  • The Hon. Martin Foley MP, Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Equality, Minister for Creative Industries, Victorian Government
  • Kon Karapanagiotidis, Chief Executive Officer, One of Pro Bono’s top 25 Most Influential People in the Social Sector of 2015, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
  • David Smyth, Chairman, Violence Free Families, VIC

Click here to see the event brochure

Key benefits of attending:

  • How to access new government funding opportunities
  • How to maximise resources to strengthen capacity
  • Innovative strategies to improve quality and scalability of service delivery to meet growing demand for frontline services
  • Diversifying service delivery approaches to meet the diversification of relationships
  • Methods to strengthen culturally effective service delivery to Indigenous communities
  • Implementing leading-edge perpetrator behavioural change programs

To register, please contact Akolade on 02 9247 6000 or

Behaviour change programs are highly effective for domestic violence perpetrators.

Two thirds of violent men who attend behaviour change programs completely stop abusing their families within two years, but they always fear slipping back into their old ways.

The first Australian study into the long-term effects of interventions for domestic violence perpetrators found that court-ordered participants in behaviour change programs were the most likely to stop being violent.

Monash University followed men who attended behaviour change programs in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia for two years after they completed the program.

Monash social work professor Thea Brown said 65 per cent of men were classed as violence-free at the end of the study. This meant they no longer physically, emotionally or sexually abused their partners, or made them afraid.

“That’s a good outcome. The men do improve considerably,” Professor Brown said. “It shows that the programs are effective.” After the initial three-month program, most men continued to use professional help to remain violence-free.

Men who had been ordered by the courts to attend a behaviour change program did better than their peers. Professor Brown suggested this could be because they were more tightly monitored, had been rattled by their court experience, or feared the legal consequences if they didn’t succeed at changing their behaviour.

All the men said it was difficult to remain violence-free. “None of them ever felt they were in a secure position and wouldn’t slip back,” Professor Brown said. “It’s very hard to do as well as they should every day of the year.”

One man said: “I only feel confident when I’m doing the program.”

This daily battle was identified by some of the men’s partners who contributed to the study. “He’s good most days, not every day,” one woman said of her partner. Overall most women were optimistic about the future with their formerly violent partners.

Half the men had broken up with their partners before they started the behaviour change program. Forty per cent of the program participants were born overseas.

Older men who were in relationships and had a higher standard of education were marginally more likely to permanently change their behaviour. However Professor Brown said: “We still don’t know why some men change and some men don’t.”

Men said the program facilitators, rather than the actual content, made the difference to them. They also liked the group dynamic. “They found a lot of individual support, they felt they were being accepted by other people, they felt less evil,” Professor Brown said.

Men were disappointed the programs didn’t provide any help with their parenting.

The programs failed to reduce the incidence of mental illness among domestic violence perpetrators. Thirty per cent of violent men have mental health problems. The programs did halve the incidence of alcohol and substance abuse.

Professor Brown said her research, which was funded by Violence Free Families, showed there was a need for closer monitoring of participants in men’s behaviour change programs, and proper exit assessments that could refer men to ongoing support services. Parenting advice also needs to be provided.

By Cosima Marriner

Read more:

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.