Evaluations of men’s behaviour change programs conducted to date have produced mixed results as
to their effectiveness . There have also been fundamental disagreements amongst those seeking to
evaluate such programs as to how ‘effectiveness’ should be measured. For example, should the sole
indicator of success be a reduction in rates of family violence reoffending as measured by
quantitative data or should other more qualitative measures be relied on, including improvements in
quality of life or feelings of increased safety on the part of victims? (Salter, M., 2012, Howard &
Wright, 2008, Day et. al, 2009, Gondolf, E., 2009) Commentators argue that any program offered to
family violence offenders should be able to demonstrate a reduction either in the frequency or
intensity of violent behaviour and/or an improvement in women’s and children’s safety (Day et. al,
2009, p.204). On this measure researchers contend that many men’s behaviour change programs are
not effective (Feder et al, 2008, Gondolf, E., 1999). However, others point out that the partner
contact component of men’s behaviour change programs can have benefits for victims, including
gaining access to support and services, increasing feelings of safety, giving women space to consider
the future of the relationship and providing strength and validation (Howard & Wright, 2008, p.31).
Despite these controversies, Men’s Behaviour Change programs continue to form a part of violence
intervention strategies in Victoria with approximately 37 Men’s Behaviour Change groups currently
running in metropolitan Melbourne.60
Very little research regarding the success of men’s behaviour change programs in engaging men
from CALD communities has been conducted either in Australia or internationally (Laing, Dr. L, 2002,
InTouch Inc, 2010, McIvor & Markwick, 2009). In two separate studies from the United States, race
was found to be a strong predictor of whether or not men dropped out of the program, with men
who were classified as belonging to an ‘ethnic minority’ less likely to complete the program when
compared to Caucasian men61. In one study ‘race was the strongest predictor of treatment dropout
and number of treatment sessions completed by individual members…’(Taft et al, 2001, p.395-396 in
Laing, Dr. L, p.20) Of the men’s behaviour change programs currently running in metropolitan
Melbourne none are language or culturally specific.
Whether the needs of CALD male perpetrators are being accommodated within existing groups is
unknown but anecdotal evidence from consultations conducted with service providers as part of the
scoping exercise suggested that CALD perpetrators often fail to have their needs met by English
speaking men’s behaviour change groups. Service providers gave examples of strategies they had
employed to accommodate CALD perpetrators within existing groups, including using interpreters or
providing one on one sessions, but there were real limitations highlighted in both of these strategies.
There was also evidence that because of the difficulties in accommodating CALD perpetrators,
service providers may simply screen these men out of their intake process.
A pilot program for establishing and delivering perpetrator programs to Vietnamese speaking men in
Melbourne’s North Western Region concluded in 2011 after delivering three groups.62
A systematic review of ten experimental and quasi-experimental studies from the US concluded that court mandated
treatment does not reduce the likelihood of reassault, Feder et al, 2009. An evaluation of men’s behaviour change programs
that are part of the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Integrated Response gave the researches some “cautious optimism” about
the ability of group interventions to change perpetrator’s behaviour. Reported in Day, et al, 2010.
Figure provided by Victorian umbrella group ‘No To Violence’