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Key changes to the MRS

13 July 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Social Services (DSS) provided funding to the Men’s Referral Service (MRS) for additional telephone support and counselling to men residing in every state and territory in Australia.

Over the last couple of months, NTV staff has: 

  • Expanded the capacity of the existing Men’s Referral Service (MRS) to accept calls and make referrals nationally
  • Developed and implemented a Brief Intervention Service (BIS) for men who use violent or controlling behaviour
  • Finalised and disseminated a Remote Working Toolkit for working with men who use violent or controlling behaviour, and training frontline workers in its use.

As part of this, we have developed material to increase awareness that there is support available. This is particularly important to distribute across new jurisdictions which haven’t had these services before. See resources here.

The expansion of the Men’s Referral Service is much needed as the COVID-19 pandemic has seen inbound calls to MRS rise by up to 30-40%. This means that some men wait longer to access services such as Men’s Behaviour Change Programs and individual counselling.  Significant effort has been placed on developing referral pathways into and out of MRS for men residing in those states and territories where MRS has not historically provided a service. MRS staff have met with specialist family violence services working with men and women, together with other mainstream services, to bolster awareness of the service that MRS provides.   

Brief Intervention Service

In addition to offering the MRS nationwide, DSS has supported MRS to offer the telephone-based Brief Intervention Service.  Commencing in July 2020, the Brief Intervention Service is focussed on the provision of time-limited, multi sessional telephone support for men who are currently on a waiting list for family violence support or who are unable to access family violence support because services are not taking referrals because of COVID-19. The service is also available to men who have become concerned about their behaviour since the pandemic commenced.

Access to the Brief Intervention Service will be via an internal referral from the MRS following an initial assessment by telephone counsellors to determine service eligibility.  We will also look to develop referral pathways into the Brief Intervention Service from other specialist family violence services around Australia.