Community organisation EveryMan (formerly Canberra Men’s Centre) are expanding their Queanbeyan services to tackle domestic violence head on.
The organisation have been implementing the program ‘Working with the Man’ since mid-last year and are seeing positive results.
The program brings men who have either perpetrated violence or have volunteered themselves because they feel at risk of being violent together with a counsellor for one-on-one sessions to address their behaviour.
Program coordinator Simon Port said he was pleased to bring the program to Queanbeyan because there were no services in the city directly targeting men’s behaviour towards women.
The program is aimed at men who have perpetrated violence against a partner or ex-partner but the councillors will also work with men who have been violent towards daughters and mothers.
The organisation has received financial support from the Stronger Communities Fund, NSW Health, the Queanbeyan Leagues Club and the Snow Foundation. Deputy Premier John Barilaro played a key role in setting up the service across the border.
The ultimate goal, Mr Port said, was to increase the safety of women and children.
The men can be referred from other agencies or seek out the organisation themselves. They will go through a series of risk assessments before meeting with a counsellor, usually weekly, to develop strategies to avoid violence and aggression.
Mr Port said it was vital the men want to complete the program and it worked on the principle that “no form of aggression is acceptable in any relationship.”
“We name, but we don’t shame,” he said.
“You have to respect the fact they want to make a change in their lives.”
The group currently has eight men in the program, at one stage they had 12, and they want to expand. Mr Port said he expected it to “snowball” once more agencies came on board to refer to EveryMan.
The organisation has been working closely with Queanbeyan Community Corrections who have referred men to the service and also provides rooms for counselling sessions to take place.
Manager of Queanbeyan Community Corrections Frank Woods said he was happy to help the organisation in any way he could to help combat domestic violence, which he said was a problem everywhere.
“There are more services out there for victims than there are perpetrators,” Mr Woods said.
“But working with perpetrators can be really beneficial because you’re addressing the behaviour rather than just dealing with the consequences.”
He added that reducing recidivism was a key initiative of corrective services and the NSW government.
Mr Port said the re-arrest rate for men using the program in the ACT was 6 per cent which he said was significantly lower than men convicted of domestic violence not in the program.
Mr Port said he wanted to secure this program long term in Queanbeyan and introduce more group services targeting anger management. His message to men in the community was clear.
“If any man out there feels they are at risk of becoming violent, don’t wait.”
“Give me a call.”
The EveryMan organisation can be contacted on (02) 6230 6999 and more information is available on their website.