MEN who commit family violence are waiting up to four months for a place in a south-west program designed to change their behaviour.
The state-funded organisation No To Violence has described the wait as “unacceptable”, warning some men would lose the motivation to change.
Across the south-west there were 1148 incidents of family violence reported to police in the past financial year, but the Brophy men’s behaviour change program is funded to treat 27 men each year.
Men from around the south-west wanting to access the service can wait between five weeks to four months to access the program.
No To Violence manager Rodney Vlais said the waiting lists for men’s behaviour change programs varied around the state.
“Certainly four months is unacceptable,” he said.
Mr Vlais said police, domestic violence groups and the courts had worked better together over the past decade but state government funding had not kept up with the increased demand.
He said in some areas of Melbourne last year there were service providers which were no longer able to add new clients to waiting lists.
“It’s a very long journey for most men once they accept they’re responsible for the use of violence,” he said.
“Once they start they may develop a strong motivation to change. They might realise they’re destroying their families and their own life and all the excuses they’ve built up.”
The program runs twice a year for 15 weeks. One group will start on January 30 and another on September 30.
Men who participate in the program are all ages and come from all walks of life.
They can initiate help or be referred through police, the courts or child protection.
Men’s behaviour change program co-facilitator Graham Bedford, from Brophy Family and Youth Services, said the safety of women and children was the program’s number one priority.
“Every woman and child has the right to feel safe,” Mr Bedford said.
A spokesman for the Minister for Community Services, Mary Wooldridge, said services provided the government with data regarding the demand on a regular basis and the data was used to help determine future funding allocations.
“The Victorian Coalition government has demonstrated a strong commitment to preventing family violence occurring, to intervening earlier when it does occur and to holding perpetrators to account,” the spokesman told The Standard.
He said since coming to office the state government had introduced legislative change, with new offences and penalties for breaches of family violence intervention orders, including an indictable offence with a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
He said it had also significantly increased investment in men’s behaviour change programs, both voluntary and court-directed, and introduced new initiatives targeting adolescents who were violent in their homes towards their mothers and their siblings.
. Anyone experiencing family violence in the south-west should call 000, contact the 24-hour women’s domestic violence crisis service on 1800 015 188 or Emma House on 5561 1934
. To contact the men’s behaviour change program call Brophy Family and Youth Services 5561 8888.