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Court Directed Male Family Violence Interventions to End 30 June

1 May 2024

The safety of women and children across parts of Victoria may be at higher risk following a decision by the Magistrates Court of Victoria (MCV) to cease funding for critically important interventions with men using family violence.

“We were deeply concerned to learn in the midst of a national family violence emergency that the Magistrates Court of Victoria is ceasing vital funding for one of its key family violence intervention services,” said Mr Phillip Ripper, CEO of No to Violence.

The news came as it was revealed in data released yesterday by the Australian Institute of Criminology that the rate of women killed by an intimate partner in Australia increased by nearly 30% in 2022-23, compared to the previous year.

“The MCV itself argues funding from the Victorian Government for court services is not sufficient to cover the complex requirements of ensuring high risk men are supported to change their violent behaviour to keep the women and children in their families safe,” said Mr Ripper.

“MCV’s own figures suggest that only around 4 per cent of all respondents to final Family Violence Intervention Orders across Victoria receive a counselling order.  We are now told that the Court aim to spread this meagre funding even further, greatly reducing the potential impact of the Court Mandated Counselling Order Program on high-risk men.”  

Mr Ripper is calling on the Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan and Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes to urgently intervene and make additional funding available to Magistrate’s Court in Victoria.

“It appears that MCV are ceasing the program in some areas with no clear plans in place to provide pathways from the Courts to men’s behaviour change programs after July 1 when the funding ends,” he said.

Cafs (Child and Family Services, Ballarat) servicing the Central Highlands Region were informed on 18 April that their funding under the MCV’s Court Mandated Counselling Order Program in their region would not be extended and would cease taking new referrals from 30 June this year.

“This news came just 10 weeks before contracts were due to be renewed and results in approximately $500,000 in annual funding being stripped from a Cafs in Ballarat at a time when the local community is reeling from a spate of violence against women,” said Mr Ripper.  

“This means 120 men using family violence in hard hit Ballarat risk being taken out of view each year, leaving affected family members potentially unsupported and at risk. That’s at least, if not more than, 120 victim-survivors possibly placed at higher levels of risk.”

Cafs CEO Wendy Sturgess said ongoing funding was critical for their organisation which is deeply embedded in the Ballarat community and highly trusted for the services they provide.  

“As a program that provides a coordinated response to keep many high-risk high-harm offenders ‘in view’ while also engaging with their family members, services currently provided by Cafs are critical for keeping women and children in our community safe and should not be watered down to save money,” she said.  

“There is a great deal of anxiety and stress in our community right now. We believe this short-sighted decision to close these critical services and withdraw the funding from Cafs which has undertaken this complex and important work puts women and children in the Ballarat region in danger.”

Mr Ripper said NTV understands that the Magistrate’s Court is aiming to reallocate their existing funding under the Court Mandated Counselling Order Program.

“However we lack any confidence that suitable alternative programs will be in place from 1 July,” he said. “We call on the Magistrates court to roll over funding for existing program and work with providers to develop more innovative models of court ordered family violence interventions.”

Mr Ripper said he has been alarmed by the lack of consultation and planning with the male family violence sector. “There is a massive cloud hanging over the whole system of court orders for men who use family violence in Victoria.” 

“Despite delivering high-quality service, often self-funding core aspects, existing providers have been given no clear indication about what comes next. Cafs and at least one other member of ours have been told their contracts would not be rolled over, with no indication of next steps, including any options for re-tendering,” Mr Ripper said.

“With no pathway from the Courts into Men’s Behaviour Change Programs, men may be left adrift with no engagement and women and children placed at greater risk”. 

“While we have been told that the courts are looking at new approaches, we do not know how these new models will keep women and children engaged with services, what the courts will require of men and how police, courts and correction services will be stay involved and informed about the risk posed by those men in the future.”

“For services on the ground working in communities like Ballarat, the uncertainty surrounding the end future of the Court Mandated Counselling Order Program will no doubt be causing significant concern, a concern being shared right across Victorian communities.”

Wendy Sturgess, CEO of Cafs, today called on the Magistrates Court to roll over the organisation’s existing funding for 12 months while they work together to ensure any new programs are safe and effective.  “With the lives of women and children across our community at stake, $500,000 is a small funding commitment that can have a huge impact in the Ballarat community.”

“We need this decision reversed immediately, and a commitment from the Victorian Government to expand funding to the Courts for the existing services for a further 12 months while they work together with CMCOP service providers across that period to co-design a new flexible best practice model of perpetrator interventions that moves away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach.” 

For interviews please contact David Sutherland at or 0405 354 343.

About No to Violence  

No to Violence (NTV) is Australia’s largest and only national peak body for organisations that work with men who use family violence, providing training, sector development and advocacy across the sector.

NTV also operates the Men’s Referral Service, providing a counselling service and referral pathways directly to men who use violence.