My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Corrections.
It follows a stakeholder meeting I attended on the 13th March in Northern Victoria which relates to the operation and funding of behaviour management programs aimed principally at men to reduce domestic and family violence.
These programs are extremely important in terms of prevention and intervention, and community safety more broadly.
Particularly in the area of individual case management for perpetrators, in trying to break their behavioural cycle – and for victims, as they seek to recover from their experiences. An excellent article by Nigel McNay in the Border Mail over the weekend noted … such programs frequently provide long-term benefits in mitigating the crippling impacts of domestic and family violence, by helping to ensure that offending is addressed in a timeframe conducive to genuinely stimulating a change in offenders’ behaviour. However, a series of difficulties are increasingly compromising the provision of these services. Foremost among them; declining funding and involvement from Corrections Victoria. Which apparently no longer runs Men’s Behaviour Change Programs, and is instead referring people to non-government agencies. These agencies are already strained, as it is, to meet demand for referrals just from Victoria Police, and other bodies and surrounding towns. They are now often receiving more than 30 referrals weekly, when they can only cater for far numbers less than that. It’s often touted in Victoria that ‘we can’t keep filling up prisons’ … but here is an area of activity that directly contributes to that goal, and yet it is chronically under resourced. Most critically, that is being seen in a dramatically reduced capacity for early intervention – and, worse still, an increased prospect of re-offending as a major response action is being completely missed in many cases. Let alone that many skilled professionals in this field are now forced to spend more time on administration than frontline service delivery. Therefore, the action I seek from the Minister is that he re-consider the Government’s funding of behavioural change programs. I hope that he will also regard this speech as an invitation to join me in meeting relevant stakeholders to look at ways of increasing resources for these vital programs, including clarifying if existing case managers will continue to be funded beyond the present end-date of June. And also whether any additional case managers will be funded, a prospect that is clearly integral to reducing future domestic and family violence across Victoria.