Keeping women safe, no matter where they live

  • Artwork of persons head in multiple pieces

Women should be safe in their homes – no matter where they live.

Some evidence shows that people living in regional, rural and remote areas are 24 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence than people living in major cities. People living in rural, regional and remote Australia also have limited access to services.

For men who use violence, this can often mean long waitlists and a lack of specialised support. Far too many men in regional areas are unable to access the services they need to change their behaviour.

No to Violence is Australia’s peak body for organisations and individuals who work with men to end their use of family violence.

In 2021, No to Violence received philanthropic funding for an online men’s behaviour change program designed specifically for men living in regional and remote areas. No to Violence worked with a member organisation – the Men and Family Centre, based in the Northern Rivers – that developed and implemented the program.

In 2022, the Men Exploring New Directions (MEND) pilot program ran for 20 weeks – entirely online.

Men and Family Centre built on their decades of experience working with men in the Lismore area. However, while the program was based in New South Wales, its for-purpose online environment meant men from regional areas in any state and territory were eligible to attend.

It was an Australian first.

In March, researchers from Monash University released an evaluation of the MEND program. Their review showed that online programs like MEND can play an important role for men who use family violence but are unable to access in-person programs.

No to Violence is working with its members to ensure all men have access to men’s behaviour change programs.

Men’s behaviour change programs have been operating for decades, with the aim of keeping women and children safe by holding men to hold account for their violent and abusive behaviours.

These group sessions are usually held face to face, with facilitators working with men to challenge their attitudes and behaviours – like using family violence – that are driven by gender inequality.

Unfortunately, men’s behaviour change programs are often unavailable outside of metropolitan or major regional centres. Men in rural, regional and remote areas of Australia often have trouble accessing them. This often results in low uptake and participants dropping out of programs. This inability to access a men’s behaviour change program can mean men are going without the support they need.

If we are serious about reducing – and ultimately ending – the scourge of family and domestic violence in this country, we need more investment in innovative programs like MEND.

Men need to be held accountable for their behaviour and they need to understand that violence is a choice. Men’s behaviour change programs are often the first step in this journey.

Help and support is available.

No to Violence operates the Men’s Referral Service: a national counselling, information and referral service for men who use family violence. This includes men in regional and rural Australia.

Men who want to make a different choice can contact the Men’s Referral Service to find support to change their behaviour – no matter where they live.

Men who are concerned about their behaviour should call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or visit mrs.org.au.

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