Family violence

Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — We know that men are the most likely perpetrators of family violence, yet there are many who commit to change and many who are willing to face up to what they have done and declare they will never do so again.

Many seek help through the Men’s Referral Service in Abbotsford, which I visited last week with the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence. This service has been working with men to end family violence for the past 22 years. Men choose when they use violence, and this is why men’s behaviour change programs can give a man the skills and ability to not choose violence against their partner, ex-partner and children. The Men’s Referral Service offers anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals to help men stop using violent and controlling behaviour.

Many of its clients go on to take part in behaviour change programs, which feature in the outstanding documentary Call Me Dad. I had the opportunity, thanks to Shine Lawyers, to attend a screening of this movie, which tells a unique story about men who have perpetrated or who are at risk of perpetrating family violence. Over several months we follow their journeys as they attempt to change and heal their relationships with loved ones. Special thanks to the exceptional counsellors, David Nugent and Jacque Seamark, and production team Sophie Wiesner, Madeleine Hetherton, Marden Dean and Rebecca Barry for telling such an important story.

We need men to stand up and say ‘No’ to family violence. AFL players, including star Bulldog Marcus Bontempelli, joined The Line, a national violence prevention campaign, as ambassadors. In a great video Marcus reflects on how he expects his sisters and mother to be treated and hopes that other men are doing the same, because violence against women is not just a women’s issue. The Dogs versus Cats next year will be a White Ribbon event. Go the Dogs!

Men can lead the way on this issue. To finish I would like to make special mention of yet another remarkable man, Kim Stowe, chief executive officer of WAYSS. He has seen family violence far too often and has helped many others to deal with it. I thank him for all that he has done.