3I Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander/CALD
“Hey Brother” – connecting and supporting our Aboriginal Men’s growth, their desire to change.
Over the past 20 years CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes NSW has provided domestic violence, homelessness and parenting programs in remote and regional NSW in communities with large Aboriginal populations. These communities statistically have higher levels of violence as well as disproportionate levels of domestic violence, which goes unreported. Disadvantage is high on all statistical measures and there are few culturally appropriate services to address these issues.
A Department of Social Services commissioned literature review concluded that ‘Recent meta-analyses of program evaluations generally suggest that intervention programs contribute to a small reduction in recidivism’ (e.g. Eckhardt et al., 2006; Saunders, 2008). In contrast, meta-analysis of court-mandated interventions for domestic violence offenders (Feder, Wilson & Austin, 2008) indicated no clear positive impact of court-mandated interventions.
In addition, intervention programs were more likely to produce attitudinal and behavioural changes, leading to reduced recidivism for, perpetrators who: ‘are Caucasian, employed, married, older, and have a higher level of education’ (e.g. see Edleson, 2008; Jewell & Wormith, 2010; Kingsnorth, 2007; Oliver, Stockdale & Wormith, 2011; Sartin et al., 2006).
CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes NSW team members are regularly approached by Aboriginal men wanting to change and our teams will often support multiple families of men who re-partner and continue the cycle of violence all over again.
CatholicCare’s Aboriginal leaders considered the best approach and began to re-engage Aboriginal men as fathers and partners. CWF employ Aboriginal Men’s Workers, which may include men with criminal records and use a ‘men’s business’ approach to reconnect men with their traditional roles through camps, one-to-one case work and peer group sessions which support them to own their past behaviours and provide them with a positive pathway to recovery. The Aboriginal men who engage with CWF all indicate that they want to be good fathers and be respectful partners. Challenging conversations about domestic violence, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol issues all surface during the sessions. Men share with other men in a way that is respectful and safe for them. They hold each other to account and they support each other during the challenges. As men reconnect to their identity as Aboriginal men, they can envision a different way of being, to regain a sense of hope for themselves and they begin to repair. The program has some startling results and has generated real change in many of the men.
Jane Kemp is a proud Aboriginal woman of the Mandandanji people of South West Queensland. Professionally, Executive Leader Aboriginal Unit and Program Manager Parent Child Services with CatholicCare Wilcannia-Forbes NSW. I have a strong passion to work with our Aboriginal families and communities to learn and support their journey to empowerment