The Family Violence Prevention Foundation of Australia

Blog

Domestic Violence Forum Melbourne

Sadly, violence against women and children continues to occur all over the world, including on our doorstep.

So when is enough, enough? What are the facts and figures in our own community? How are victims being assisted? What happens to the perpetrators? How can we help to end this violence?

Be encouraged by recent research findings and inspired to make a difference. Hear from expert speakers including Scott Holmes from YMCA, Allison Wainwright from Family Life, Rachel Ellyard from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, Kaye Swanton from Violence Free Families and Peter Streker from Community Stars.

Join in conversation with them about ways to STOP family violence and build a safer world for all.

Proudly presented by St Stephen’s Anglican Church Gardenvale.

Thursday 26 November 2015
7.30pm – 9pm (supper to follow)St. Stephen’s Anglican Church,
Gardenvale, 111 North Rd, Brighton
Cost: Free.
Register at: tinyurl.com/NotInOurBackyard

Overview

Our focus on family violence prevention through innovation and development of men’s behaviour change programs continued and significant further progress was made.

The Online Behavior Change Program

The third and final field trial of this world-first concept was completed in May, and the University of Melbourne evaluators confirmed the excellent results obtained from the first two trials. One partner said: “The program has given me the man I believed he could be when we married nine years ago.”

On the Line, specialists in telephone counselling and the provider of MensLine Australia was selected for the provision of the first regular program and preparations for induction training of their staff by VFF were finalised.

Research

Our research study with Monash University into the long term results of conventional men’s behaviour change programs will continue for another nine months as we follow up men who have “graduated” from the programs. The results will be disseminated through publications and a seminar early in 2016.

Funding and Community Support

We welcome 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. Sixteen family violence prevention presentations were made to a total of over 1,000 people, spreading awareness of family violence and our contribution to prevention.

In March, our new Ambassador, Colleen Hewett, entertained delegates at a Rotary conference in Hobart with her new song about the experience of family violence, along with other well known songs. For many delegates, it was the highlight of the conference. An anti-violence video clip, featuring Colleen and numerous public identities, including the Prime Minister, premiered at the conference.

Governance

We accepted with regret the resignation of Norm Thomas from our Board with effect from 31 December. Norm’s wise advice and many contributions over his five years of service will be very much missed.

In May, we welcomed Helen Bird to the Board. She brings to our work her great enthusiasm and a wealth of experience in business development and public relations.

We made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into domestic violence in July, 2014, testified at a hearing later in the year and followed up with supplementary material requested on notice. We also made a submission to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.

 

Dr David Smyth

Chairman

Violence Free Families Ambassador, Colleen Hewett, is donating $5 from every sale of her new CD, Black and White, to Violence Free Families.

There’s a wonderful feeling of freedom and security in being able to breathe normally, without fear and without anguish. Sadly, three in ten Australian women have felt suffocated by physical, emotional or sexual abuse at the hands their partner. Colleen Hewett’s powerful anthem “Let me Breathe” has been generously donated to Violence Free Families to help raise awareness and much needed funds.

 

 

Colleen Hewett has joined Violence Free Families as an Ambassador. Her new CD – “Black & White” featuring the song “Let Me Breathe” – is available now and $5 from every sale will be donated to Violence Free Families. To order your copy, click here.

The Monash Filicide Research Project (led by Professor Thea Brown and Dr. Danielle Tyson) has just received funding from the Criminology Research Grants Scheme for the first Australian National Study on Filicide.  The study will be conducted in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Criminology.

It has been estimated that some 25 or so children are killed by a parent or equivalent guardian in a tragic act of family violence in Australia each year.

The study, retrospectively examining 12 years of filicide deaths, will be the first to provide accurate information on incidence; it will investigate the extent to which the Monash Project’s Victorian study findings on causes and risks are the same in all states and territories of Australia.   The study will examine potential intervention and prevention for all levels of government.   It will commence in early – 2015 and finish in mid – 2016.

(Professor) Thea Brown, 18/12/2014

This ambitious study is examining the results of behaviour change programs for violent men over the long term. These programs are believed to be one of the most effective ways of helping men to stop their violence but no large scale systematic study of them has ever been conducted in Australia.

Violence Free Families is raising the funds for this study and has commissioned Monash University to lead it. The researches are supported by a talented and diverse academic reference committee.

The first results are currently being analysed and the final outcomes will be published in mid 2016.

Why are we doing this study?

The need for more research into intervention programs has been recognised in the federal Government’s “National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women – Immediate Government Actions” Canberra, April 2009 and was further supported by a survey of agencies providing programs in 2012 by IBIS Research.

Who is doing the study?

The lead researchers are:

  • Professor Emeritus Thea Brown, former Professor of Social Work and Research Professor at Monash University, and
  • Dr Catherine Flynn, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Monash University, with special responsibilities for honours studies.

They are supported by an academic reference committee that brings together a cross-section of members with a wide range of relevant skills and knowledge to provide significant input and advice. It includes:

  • three program managers from agencies located in participating states
  • a legal expert with human research ethics committee experience
  • a medical practitioner with special interest in family medicine
  • an agency chief executive
  • a professional manager with a research background.

The committee has also consulted international experts on forensic psychology and survey questionnaire design.

Ethical considerations

The study design has been examined in detail and cleared by the human resource ethics committees of Monash University, the Victorian Department of Justice and five agencies.

Web survey

As part of the study, we are inviting the opinions of partners and men with first hand experience of behaviour change programs, sometimes known as anger management programs. If you have such experience, please respond to the questionnaire. We would value your views and you would be helping families with difficulties in the future.

Further information

Further information may be requested by contacting us.

8 August 2014

Summary of the Violence Free Families submission

This submission focuses on the use of men’s behaviour change programs as a key tool for protecting the welfare of women and children who are the subject of family violence. These programs aim to improve the behaviour of men in affected relationships by providing group psycho-educational interventions over 13 or more weeks of two-hour interactive sessions with trained facilitators. The submission primarily addresses items (c) and (e) of the Committee’s terms of reference.

Violence Free Families argues for a systemic view of behaviour change programs in government policy, seeing them as a central element of a matrix of related interventions and supporting programs. Abusive men typically have higher levels of mental illness, substance abuse and more frequent histories of being abused of neglected as children than the wider community. They are also more likely to be violent outside the home: in the workplace, streets and social settings. These problems do not fit neatly into the prevailing gendered analysis of the determinants of family violence and are not systemically addressed under present policy.

Men’s behaviour change programs are an effective tool, but the concept has the potential for much greater development. Programs need to be delivered in a setting that provides for a range of supporting services and the programs themselves need to be improved through evidence-based research. There is a need for innovative extensions of the concept, including induction and after-programs, indigenous and CALD-specific versions and flexible delivery over the Internet. Violence Free Families has addressed this last need, as well as the need to improve the evidence base through research.

Finally, a national view should be taken of sector regulation, including better training, multiple accreditation paths for program facilitators, better quality control and minimum program standards for all Federally funded programs.

Government policy for men’s behaviour change programs should recognise and fund:

  1. service delivery
  2. research and innovation
  3. training and sector regulation

as separate but related activities.

Overview

Violence Free Families continued its focus on developing new and better men’s behaviour change programs. These are small-group programs that run for a minimum of 26 contact hours under the guidance of trained facilitators. They are considered to be the most effective way of helping families by improving men’s behaviour.

Significant progress was made this year in developing a world-first online/multi-media behaviour change program for violent men. In addition, our established research program with Monash University into the long term results of conventional men’s behaviour change programs continued with data collection and early analysis.

The Online Behavior Change Program

This project progressed from contract awards in August through development of materials to the completion of the first 14-week field trial in June. The project consortium including Gippsland TAFE (for e-learning expertise and experience in online suicide prevention programs) and Trusted Impact Pty Ltd (for information security services) worked with dedication and enthusiasm. The University of Melbourne is evaluating it on an ongoing basis. The first field trail was completed in June and a second trial will commence in August.  The initial results, while too early to be statistically significant, have been most encouraging and the concept shows considerable potential.

Research

Agencies in three States are participating in this research, giving us an opportunity to compare the different types of program used in different States. The study will continue for several more years, as we follow up men who have completed programs to see whether the impact is durable. While the numbers are a little below expectations, information from the early analysis, if confirmed, indicate a need for significant changes to established programs.

Funding and Community Support

Once again, we record our grateful thanks to the Rotary movement for its support and high-level endorsement of our programs. Representatives of Violence Free Families addressed numerous Rotary Clubs and conferences throughout the year. We also shared a promotional stand with Women in Rotary at the 25,000-delegate Rotary International Convention in Sydney, attracting a high degree of interest from both Australian and foreign delegates.

Funding from Rotary, philanthropic institutions and concerned individuals has made our work possible and we are most grateful for their contributions.

Dr David Smyth

Chairman

Article from The Age: 8 June, 2014

If one of Garry Higgins’ employees came to work with a black eye and no funny story to go with it, he wouldn’t know what to say to her, or how to respond. “But I want to learn,” he says. “We need those skills in this community.”

The Maryborough baker, as president of the local Rotary club, is this week launching a very public and focused stand against family violence.

Read the full article here

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.