URGENT funding is needed for a south-west program which works with men who commit family violence.
That’s the view of Western Victoria MP Gayle Tierney who raised the shortfall in State Parliament this week.
Ms Tierney said local people who worked in the sector argued the long waiting lists to access help were unacceptable.
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.
Ms Tierney said the wait for services meant men were losing their motivation to address their issues and change their attitudes.
“Statewide, as I understand it, there is government funding available to treat 2500 family violence offenders each year,” she said.
“One-third of offenders in Victoria are referred by police to family violence programs. The police are also saying that is not nearly enough.
“When we combine these referrals with those of other organisations or departments that refer people to these programs, such as the courts through court orders, we find that less than 20 per cent of offending men are in the programs.
“I think it is incredibly important that we make sure that the south-west No To Violence program is fully supported.”
Men are referred to the program through police, the courts or child protection and can also initiate help themselves.
Ms Tierney encouraged the Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge to urgently consider increasing the funding to the No To Violence program in the south-west so it can work with family violence offenders and protect those vulnerable people in our community who are subjected to family violence.
The statewide organisation No To Violence Men’s Behaviour Change program is run through Brophy Family and Youth Services.
In January The Standard revealed the difficulties facing men accessing the program and at the time No To Violence manager Rodney Vlais said the wait was unacceptable.
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,” he said.