The role of specialist support programs and family violence


The primary role of specialist family violence services is to confront and address abuse and domestic violence.

To ensure this work is effective, specialist supports are usually embedded in the community response to family violence. Inter-agency protocols are established to appropriately manage safety and risk – for those using violence and experiencing violence.

Because many people choose not to address their behaviour, even when offered opportunities for change, inter-agency responses can be tailored to meet the needs of those affected accordingly – such as developing new risk management and safety planning arrangements.

Behaviour change programs will also seek to support the partners and family members of those experiencing violence. These programs recognise the importance of including the voices of those effected by violence. For some of these partners and children, this might be the first time they have had contact with a family violence or support service. Thus, a referral to a Behaviour change program may lead partners to get the support they also need.

These specialist services, have sound understandings of the complex gender and power dynamics operating where family violence is occurring. So, while issues such as stress and anger management, or histories of personal trauma may be important to address in assisting with changing behaviour, they are not understood as the ‘cause’ of violence and thus accountability for violence remains in the choices the abuser is making.

Specialist services are well placed to make often complex decisions about what is needed to address the violence. For instance, clients that may have co-occurring substance abuse issues which may elevate risk but may also need to be addressed before the client is ready to address other aspects of their behaviour. Similar, complexity can arise when facing mental health problems. These specialist services can support clients while continuing to monitor risk and safety.


“Specialist services play a critical role in engagement, motivation and behaviour change success.”


Specialist services play a critical role in engagement, motivation and behaviour change success. Wherever possible health professionals should seek to refer to local specialist men’s and women’s family violence support services.

Here are some services and directories:


ACT support services

NSW support services

Northern Territory support services

Queensland support services

South Australia support services

Tasmania support services

Victorian support services

Western Australia support services


About MensLine Australia’s Changing for Good program

Changing for Good is a free service that provides a one-to-one telephone counselling service for men who want to maintain respectful relationships without using violence. The service aims to support and strengthen relationships with others, improve wellbeing, and increase participation in community life.

There are two programs available:

  1. Post Men’s Behaviour Change Program – a six-month telephone counselling program that helps men continue the work they started in a Men’s Behaviour Change Program (MBCP).
  2. Violence Prevention Program – a two-month telephone counselling program for men who are worried that their thoughts and behaviours may escalate to physical violence.

Both programs will help men to explore the impact and motivations of their behaviours on others. Our Changing for Good counsellors will help the men work on the areas they want to improve, whether it is intimate relationships, parenting, friendships or work colleagues.