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Domestic Violence Prevention:Online Services for Prisoners

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A number of accredited services in NSW provide paid programs to curb men’s domestic violence. These agencies provide valuable services for men who wish to change their abusive behaviour.[1] These programs have to follow minimum standards set out by the NSW government in order to receive accreditation. Examples of these standards include providing current partners of the participants with support prior to and during the program, and emphasising victim protection throughout it.[2] Accredited providers that meet the minimum standards for these programs include Baptistcare (Facing Up Program), Catholic Care (Men and Family Relationships Program) and Relationships Australia NSW (Taking Responsibility – a course for men). MBCP incurs fees and are typically run for 16-18 sessions, depending on the provider. However, different entry criteria need to be met prior to the admission into the programs – offenders have to make the decision to choose change for themselves. Programs like ‘Taking Responsibility’ emphasise strengthening attitudes and skills for respectful and loving relationships with female partners and children.[3]

[1]NSW Justice, Minimum Standards for Men’s Domestic Violence and Behaviour Change Programs (2016) <http://www.crimeprevention.nsw.gov.au/domesticviolence/Pages/MiniStandardsforMen'sBehaviour/Minimum_Standards_for_Men's_Behahviour.aspx>.

[2]Attorney General & Justice, Minimum Standards for Men’s Domestic Violence and Behavior Change Programs (2012) <http://www.crimeprevention.nsw.gov.au/domesticviolence/Documents/Mini/dfv_behaviour_change_program_standards_april_2012%20(1).pdf>.

[3] Relationships Australia NSW, Taking Responsibility – A Course for Men (2016) <https://relationshipsnsw.org.au/support-services/taking-responsibility-a-course-for-men>.


  • Two thirds of violent men who attend behaviour change programs completely stop abusing their families within two years. [1]
  • Monash University followed men who attended behaviour change programs in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia for two years after they completed the program. Monash University social work Professor Thea Brown concluded that 65% of men were classed as violence-free at the end of the study. This is to say that they no longer physically, emotionally or sexually abused their partners or made them afraid. [2]
  • Nevertheless, reducing re-offending rates should not be the only objective for men’s behaviour change programs, according to new research from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS).[3]

[1] Cosima Marriner, ‘The Violent Men who do Change’, Sydney Morning Herald (online), 28 May 2016 <http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/the-violent-men-who-do-change-20160527-gp53j0.html>.


[3] ANROWS, New Research Finds Men’s Behaviour Change Programs Should Aim to do More than Reducing Re-Offending Rates (2015) <http://anrows.org.au/resources/media/media-releases/new-research-finds-men%E2%80%99s-behaviour-change-programs-should-aim-do-more>.



Enough is Enough is an anti-violence organisation which provides workshops, programs, and phone counselling with an aim to offer counselling and support services for those affected by crime, road trauma, violence and anti-social behaviour. [1] This program emphasises empowering individuals to eliminate violence from all areas of their lives and to encourage community members to assist each other in overcoming these challenges. Domestic Violence is a key focus of this organisation with support services available for both perpetrators and victims. The organisation also provides educational programs and workshops in correctional facilities for both staff and inmates, focusing on methods of community reintegration and changing violent behaviours.[2] The vision of Enough is Enough is to be the “peak-performing grassroots organisation dealing in help, hope and healing”.[3] The outcome of this program includes establishing a sense of responsibility in offenders so that they may understand the consequences of their actions and empathise with victims, so as to begin rehabilitation and reintegration for offenders.[4]

[1] Enough is Enough, Domestic Violence Support (2016) <http://www.enoughisenough.org.au/counselling-and-psychology/domestic-violence-help>.


In collaboration with Queensland Corrective Services and Gold Coast Domestic Violence Integrated Response, this program seeks to work with men to end their use of violence and abuse in intimate personal relationships. Women and children’s safety is prioritised throughout the program and regular contact with partners who have experienced violence is provided.[1] As part of this program, men are required to attend a minimum of 24 weekly sessions in order to:

  • Assist the participants to understand acts of violence as a means of control by examining the intent of their acts.
  • Increasing participants’ willingness to understand his actions by examining its negative effects.
  • Increasing the participants’ understanding of the causes of violence.
  • Providing practical information on how to change the abusive behaviour by exploring non-violent ways.

The entry into the program is subject to the following criteria:

  • The court makes an order for the man to attend the program if he has been convicted of a breach of a domestic violence protection order or for other domestic violence related criminal offences.
  • The program is a condition of an offender’s parole.
  • A respondent is referred to the program by being granted a Voluntary Intervention Order (VIO) through the civil process in a Domestic Violence Court. For a VIO to be granted, there must be a current Domestic Violence Order against the respondent.

The programs outcomes have been positive overall.[2] Individuals that complete the program were less likely to engage in minimising, denial, manipulation, and assigning blame to victims post-program than they were pre-program.[3] Furthermore, program participants reported having greater awareness of the effects of their actions because of the program, and were significantly less likely to endorse acts of domestic violence post-program than they were pre-program.[4] These outcomes demonstrate that group-based intervention programs can be effective, and entry to the program should not be restricted to individuals with a Domestic Violence Order.

On a global scale, through the input of victim advocacy groups, the criminal justice system, and treatment providers, the Perpetrator Index was developed.[5] There was an emphasis on the need to go beyond recidivism, looking at the reduction of negative behaviours and attitudes, and to make a goal of developing positive behaviours and activities.

[1]Domestic Violence Prevention Centre, Men’s Domestic Violence Education and Intervention Program (2016) <http://www.domesticviolence.com.au/pages/mens-domestic-violence-intervention-education.php>.

[2]Australian Institute of Criminology, Integrated Responses to domestic violence: Legally mandated intervention programs for the male perpetrators (2010) <http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/tandi_pdf/tandi404.pdf>,



[5] Washington State Institute for Public Policy, What Works to Reduce Recidivism by Domestic Violence Offenders (2013). <http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/ReportFile/1119/Wsipp_What-Works-to-Reduce-Recidivism-by-Domestic-Violence-Offenders_Full-Report.pdf>.



[4]Enough is Enough, The R Program (2016) <http://enoughisenough.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/The-R-Program.pdf>. 

4.2.3 1800RESPECT

1800RESPECT is a 24/7 phone and online counselling service, with translators and interpreters available to assist[1]. It provides online and over the phone counselling to victims of domestic violence as well as online educational resources for friends and relatives of victims.[2] The website provides online counselling through email correspondence or small group therapy to help men reduce their violent and abusive tendencies. There is a great emphasis on learning how to relate to partners in a respectful way, and on assisting the development of non-abusive alternatives for dealing with difficulties through relationships. Keeping their partner safe is an important aspect of 1800RESPECT’s teachings.

On the 30th of October a Coalition Media release by The Hon. Michaelia Cash reported major improvements in service levels through the initiative.[3] This has resulted in increasing response time and a significant decrease in call abandonment. This has meant that the immediacy of support for victims of domestic violence has substantially improved, however, the National Plan is only in the third part of its action plan out of four parts, so true results and outcomes are still to be measured.

[1] 1800Respect, Telephone and Online Counselling (2015) <https://www.1800respect.org.au/telephone-and-online-counselling/>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://christianporter.dss.gov.au/media-releases/early-success-for-1800respect-s-new-telephone-counselling-service

4.2.4 RELATIONSHIPS AUSTRALIA (1300 364 277)

Relationships Australia provides online, face-to-face, and phone counselling for people who have used anger, violence or abuse in their interpersonal relationships.[1] The service is available for anyone in Australia and offers a secure Chat counselling service via text or video/audio links on Skype for those who cannot physically attend counselling or that prefer the convenience of online therapy.[2] No referral is required, however a $90 per hour fee is charged for the online counselling service.

[1]Relationships Australia NSW, Family Violence Prevention (2016) <http://www.relationships.org.au/what-we-do/services/family-violence-prevention>.

[2]Relationships Australia NSW, Counselling (2016) <http://www.relationships.org.au/what-we-do/services/counselling>.

4.2.5 MENSLINE AUSTRALIA (1300 78 99 78)

MensLine is a 24/7 service providing leading professional remote telephone and online counselling.[1] The MensLine website provides online counselling or video counselling as well as a forum for mutual assistance. The organisation focuses on providing appropriate counselling for men who often find it tough to ask for health advice and can find face-to-face discussion confronting. Their online services can offer visual privacy, a higher level of control for the client as well as anonymity that can help them to enable greater honesty.

[1] Men’s Line, Talk it Over (2014) <http://www.mensline.org.au/>.

4.2.6 MEN'S REFERRAL SERVICE (1300 766 491)

The Men’s Referral Service is a free and anonymous telephone counselling line, which provides information to assist offenders in stopping their violent and/or controlling behaviour.[1] ‘No To Violence,’ a family violence prevention association, provides this service and is supported by both the Victorian and New South Wales Governments. There is an emphasis on providing a respectful and confidential service that can help men to take the next steps in changing their behaviour. The Men’s Referral Service also supplies a counselling service for women seeking information on male family violence, as well as for friends or family who are experiencing violence. The Men’s Referral Service received over 7000 calls during the 2014-15 financial year, and the volume of calls has been increasing since 2012.[2]

[1] Men’s Referral Service, Men’s Referral Service (2013) < http://mrs.org.au/>.

[2]Male Family Violence Prevention Association, Annual Report (2015) <http://ntv.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015-ntv-mrs-annualreport-final-w.pdf>.


In the United States, the Risks Needs Responsivity model (RNR) and Good Lives Model (GLM), are discussed and both are related to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).[1] In the RNR model, offenders risk levels are assessed as well as their criminogenic needs (these are factors that are known to be associated with criminal behaviour such as interpersonal skills deficits, cognitive distortions, and a lack of victim empathy) and are interrogated about their responsiveness: What factors will influence the offender’s response to the program? These can be their learning style, level of motivation, as well as their cultural background. Enhancing the life of the offender or improving their personal wellbeing is not the aim of this program. RNR for the past 40 years has been the main approach to rehabilitating sex offenders. The program may be beneficial in recognising and coping with various psychological thought processes associated with domestic violence.

[1] M. Schaffer, E. L. Jeglic, A. Moster, D. Wnuk, ‘Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy in the Treatment and Management of Sex Offenders’ (2010) 24(2) Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly 92.

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