Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491
Chat Online (live chat currently not available)
Who can the Men’s Referral Service support?
- Men who have or are still behaving abusively
- Family members who are impacted by a man’s use abusive behaviours
- Friends, family or colleagues of people who may be using or experiencing family violence and wish to understand how to support their friends, family, or colleagues
- Professionals wishing to support a client who is using or experiencing family violence
When you call us
- You can remain anonymous – you don’t need to give us your name or any identifying details
- We will listen to you and treat you with respect
- We will do our best to help you
- We will provide you with referrals to local services that will help you take the next steps
What does support look like?
It takes strength and courage to admit to using violence or control. You should not under-estimate how hard this can be. This is the first step towards changing your behaviour and being the best man, partner, spouse or family member you can be.
The Men’s Referral Service can have a conversation with you, help you with some short term tactics, and put you in touch with some supports that can help you along your journey.
Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491
Chat Online (Live Chat bottom right)
“I said I was sorry and it would never happen again, but if I ever raise my voice now I can see that look in her eyes. It’s still there, in the back of my mind. I don’t want to scare her anymore.” – Stefan
What is a Men’s Behaviour Change Program?
One of the main types of support the Men’s Referral Service can link you up with is something called a Men’s Behaviour Change Program. Men’s behaviour change programs support men who have used abusive and controlling behaviours towards their partners or family members to change their behaviour and build healthy and respectful relationships.
There are a number of ways that people enter into a men’s behaviour change program. Some men self-refer by contacting the Men’s Referral Service. Some men are mandated to attend a program. Others are referred by a family violence service.
After being referred to a program there is an intake and assessment process, which usually includes an interview with an experienced men’s behaviour change worker. In the interview, the worker will have a chat and explain the requirements for joining in the program and establish expectations around your participation and what you can get out of it. This interview will also help the worker assess any risks or safety issues relating to your participation in the program.
Some programs include a case management component, where workers will support men to access other services that will help them to address their use of violence, such as housing and homelessness, drug and alcohol, gambling or mental health services.
In groups of up to 15, men are invited to explore their use of violence and abuse, supported to take responsibility for their behaviour and encouraged to learn new, non-violent and non-abusive behaviours.
Group work is the main component of men’s behaviour change programs and, while they are delivered differently by different organisations, all groups:
- meet weekly for a minimum of 14 weeks, with some running for up to 24 weeks
- meet for two hours, usually in the evening
- are facilitated by two qualified and experienced facilitators – usually one man and one woman
There is a high demand for men’s behaviour change programs which means there is often a waiting list for a place in the group. Some programs offer short-term individual counselling, to help men prepare for the work they will be doing in the group while they are on the waiting list.
In some programs, where resources allow, individual work is also available for group participants.
What about relationship counselling?
We do not recommend relationship counselling as a way to address men’s family violence.
Taking a relationship counselling approach assumes that family violence occurs because of a problem in the relationship which both parties are responsible for resolving. The use of family violence is an expression of power and control and relationship counselling can only be effective when there is a reasonably equal distribution of power and both parties feel safe to speak honestly about their perspectives, feelings and needs.
Relationship counselling can also pose a safety risk if a person experiencing family violence has to talk about this while the person using it against them is present.
When confronted like this, men may deny or minimise their behaviour and many women have reported experiencing further abuse as punishment for speaking out during counselling.
Work with women and children
A central element of men’s behaviour change programs provided by NTV / MRS members is that they are accountable and responsive to the safety and needs of women and children. These programs include a dedicated, experienced worker who can provide support for the partners or ex-partners of men participating in the program. This is a voluntary service for women and can include:
- Safety planning
- Individual counselling and group work
- Referrals to specialist women’s services for further support
Some organisations also offer counselling and group work specifically for children impacted by family violence.
What about individual counselling?
While individual counselling is not suitable for addressing men’s family violence on its own, it can provide additional support for men participating in a men’s behaviour change program.
Counselling can offer tools and strategies for coping with intense emotions and making non-violent choices and may further support men to understand and take responsibility for the underlying thoughts and feelings that have contributed to their abusive behaviour.
Individual counselling can also be appropriate for men who have not used violence or controlling behaviours, but are concerned they could, as well as for men who have completed a men’s behaviour change program and would like support maintaining and strengthening positive non-violent choices to resolve problems.
Individual counselling can be a support in a number of ways to men as they progress through a group program. This can include working on particular areas of concern including substance use, developing a mental health wellness plan as well as inviting men to a commitment to healing from trauma experiences.
What about anger management?
We do not recommend anger management programs as a way to address men’s family violence.
Stopping family violence is about a lot more than managing anger, which is why we encourage men who use violence to participate in a men’s behaviour change group and not an anger management group.
While some men who use violent and controlling behaviours have problems with expressing their anger, others might be finding it difficult to express other feelings, such as fear, anxiety or frustration. Men’s behaviour change programs hold men accountable for their actions and address their choice to use violence, while focusing on keeping women and children safe.
You may find yourself under increased strain under social distancing, or arguments with your family have become more common. Things you once considered small may now seem huge.
BETTER MAN is a new and confidential website that can help: http://public.betterman.org.au.
BETTER MAN aims to motivate men who are worried about their behaviour to seek help at an early stage. The website is in three modules focusing on relationships, values and communication. All modules have online messaging and feedback tailored according to user input.
BETTER MAN is a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and No to Violence.