Service gap for domestic violence help

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
Graphic: Toby Wilkinson
Camera IconGraphic: Toby Wilkinson

Domestic violence advocates fear the continued lack of a domestic violence counselling program in the region will continue to affect their efforts in addressing the problem.

The Changing Tracks program for perpetrators to attend on their own accord or be referred by the courts was lost to the region in 2017 after Anglicare’s service agreement with the Department of Justice ended.

The 24-week program encouraged men to manage their anger and address their accountability in a group setting. So far this financial year Great Southern police have laid 391 domestic assault charges up until March.

Anglicare Albany clinical response manager Jo Dechief said more emphasis on prevention of domestic violence was required, labelled the absence of a counselling program as a “big gap” due to the high number of perpetrators in the region.

“There needs to be more focus on behaviour change and men’s accountability and address the problem instead of always treating the outcome,” she said.

Albany Family and Domestic Violence Action Group acting chairwoman Maria McCabe echoed calls for more resources for victims and perpetrator counselling in the region.

“Yes we do need more accommodation for survivors of violence and it’s also important that perpetrators have the opportunity to change,” she said.

“There is no local avenue for these men wanting to change their violent behaviour other than a residential program in Perth and the Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline.”

Women's Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services chief executive Angela Hartwig said perpetrator counselling was an important part of the solution to provide intervention.

“We just don’t have enough perpetrator programs across the State,” she said.

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