Stopping Family Violence, in conjunction with Curtin University, has recently received a research grant from the Australian National Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) to carry out a two year national research project exploring partner contact practice in Men’s Behaviour Change Programs. This study is internationally and nationally significant as it’s the first of its kind to comprehensively explore the research evidence and practice experience around partner/victim/survivor contact (PC) practices and examine the capacity of these services to promote women’s and children’s safety.
Within Australia many MBCP guidelines and standards highlight the importance PC, although very little is documented in terms of the practice and underpinning literature. The need to ensure women and children are provided appropriate support is a well-established expectation of the perpetrator intervention system. Furthermore, some women first enter the service system as a result of PC highlighting the importance of this service as an opportunity for meaningful engagement. PC may also act as a key accountability and quality assurance measure within perpetrator interventions and provide a means of minimising collusion and increasing accountability around self-reporting.
Whilst recognised as imperative, there is currently very limited research in the Australian context around how PC is incorporated into program delivery. This project will provide a deeper level understanding of the way in which MBCPs support women and children’s through PC. This includes programs designed to cater for diverse populations including Aboriginal or culturally and linguistically diverse and diverse sexuality and gender.
Research Aims and Methodology
A literature review will be initially undertaken, followed by a survey of MBCP providers nationally and complemented by in-depth interviews with managers, facilitators and PC providers. This understanding will contribute to improved quality of services provided to victims by identifying gaps between theory and practice and providing practice guidance and considerations for the field.
Specifically, the aims of this research project are to:
- Document national practice of victim/partner contact across Australian MBCPs including the nature and types of arrangements used to provide the service (e.g. MBCP facilitator contact, in house contact workers, partnerships, subcontracting of specialist women’s services, outsourcing etc.);
- Examine how MBCPs support women and children’s safety through partner contact and its benefits. Explore how diverse populations are catered for in terms of MBCP partner contact (Aboriginal or culturally and linguistically diverse; diverse sexuality and gender);
- Understand MBCP partner contact in both metropolitan and regional areas;
- Improve the quality and consistency of support provided to women and children by current and future MBC programs and perpetrator interventions more broadly.
This project has the potential to enhance women and children’s safety while also contributing to the family domestic violence evidence base both in Australia and internationally. Specifically, this project will establish a stronger perpetrator intervention system response around partner contact that can have a flow on effect to the system of services for women and children’s safety. By developing a stronger evidence base on partner contact system and its practice, those providing service responses to women and children can be more confident that the work in men’s interventions are promoting safety and meeting the needs of women and children impacted by the perpetrator’s violence towards them. The project outcomes will cover a number of areas which include:
- A detailed understanding of partner contact practices in Australia
- Documentation of good and promising practices in partner contact
- Greater integration between perpetrator intervention systems and the service system for women and children’s safety
- Tailoring responses to achieve safe outcomes outside the metropolitan areas and in diverse populations
Contribution to policy and practice
A key output of the project will be the development and dissemination of a practice guide reporting on the background literature and logic underpinning partner contact including how the diverse needs of women and children can be addressed. In addition to the practice guide, findings will be communicated to professionals and other domestic violence intervention stakeholders through training programs and other written publications such as journal articles.