BHP funds Vital Change Programs to tackle Family Domestic Violence in the Pilbara

Communicare will establish a new men’s behaviour change program in South Hedland, thanks to a funding boost from BHP as part of a wider initiative to help address Family Domestic Violence (FDV) in the Pilbara region.

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Communicare will establish a new men’s behaviour change program in South Hedland, thanks to a funding boost from BHP as part of a wider initiative to help address Family Domestic Violence (FDV) in the Pilbara region.

The Hedland Residential Men’s Behaviour Change Program is one of three ‘Vital Change Programs’ to be rolled-out in the region under a $1.1million funding package from BHP over the next 12 months. 

The Vital Change Programs are a series of projects under the broader Pilbara Family and Domestic Violence Network (PFDVN) and will initially run for 12 months led by the Pilbara Manager of the WA Council of Social Service, Celeste Stephens, and supported by the Hedland Family Violence Action Group (HFVAG), Hedland Collective and Newman Futures

The behaviour change program - co-designed with local social services, Aboriginal groups and other community stakeholders - will provide a short-stay residential facility for men who have received 24 or 72-hour Police Orders removing them from the family home for using violence and abuse. 

The need for a unique intervention and engagement program was first identified by HFVAG and the PFDVN to ensure the immediate safety needs of women and children. 

Communicare CEO Melissa Perry said the Vital Change programs were an important next step in tackling FDV in local communities.

“I’m incredibly thankful to BHP for funding these important initiatives,” Ms Perry said. 

“This year, Communicare became the new custodian of the national White Ribbon Australia movement, and the establishment of this new behaviour change program is very much aligned with our mission to engage men and boys in the work of eliminating gendered violence.

“Of course, the safety of women and children impacted by FDV will be a key priority of the program.
 
“Our 20-plus years’ experience in delivering FDV services, including men’s behaviour change programs, has shown us we can achieve this by supporting men to be accountable for their use of violent and abusive behaviour and educating them on the opportunities for change. 

“It will involve a whole-of-family, wrap-around approach; collaborating with existing systems and stakeholders, including women’s advocacy and other local support services, to deliver a culturally appropriate program, tailored for the broader community.”

Ms Perry said the program would encourage community engagement for residents through social activities and connection to other support agencies, including employment, education and training, alcohol and drug services, mental health and accommodation providers.

“This will help build residents’ support systems and increase outcomes for lasting behaviour change,” Ms Perry said.

“It will also strengthen connections and pathways to Aboriginal organisations and community Elders, to be culturally responsive and supportive of Aboriginal men engaging in the service.”

Planning for the Hedland Residential Men’s Behaviour Change Program began in October 2020, with an extensive consultation period to ensure the program would deliver the best outcomes for the Pilbara community.

A local reference group has been established to provide input on the development of the program and ongoing support during the delivery phase, including monthly reviews and ongoing refinement.

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