A unique intervention program, based in Victoria, that works by tapping into fathers’ motivation to be better dads has emerged as a leader in the family violence prevention space with a new independent evaluation report confirming its success.
The University of Melbourne, which evaluated the Caring Dads program over three years with the aim of building an evidence base and identifying how the program fits into the Victorian service system, has linked the program to an overall reduction in violence and positive changes in father’s parenting after completing the program.
Against the backdrop of a nation grappling with how to end violence against women and children in the wake of yet another tragedy, the timely release of the report highlights a program that is helping to stop the cycle of violence.
Adapted from an internationally acclaimed Canadian model, Caring Dads is an evidence-backed, 17-week intervention program for men who have used violence or are at risk of doing so. The program helps fathers understand the impact of their behaviour by harnessing their motivation to be good dads.
Evaluation findings drawn from data collected over three years clearly showed that program participants were better able to manage aggressive behaviours and that the program led to positive changes in the father’s parenting as well as an overall reduction in violence.
According to Kids First CEO, Ms Aileen Ashford, behaviour change programs that focus on fathers are an important part of the diverse set of measures used to treat and prevent family violence in Australia.
“We are facing unprecedented demand from men seeking help, not just within Victoria but right across the country. We also know that out of all countries where Caring Dads is run, Australia has the highest retention rate of any location.”
“From the level of interest in the program, and the fact that we are currently running at capacity, it’s clear to me that men want to be part of the solution.
“Providing opportunities for men to participate in interventions where their behaviour can be monitored can lead to improved father-child relationships that have potential to enhance children’s social, emotional and psychological wellbeing. Which is what we all want.
“We thank Gandel Philanthropy and the Victorian Government for their ongoing funding that has made it possible for us to deliver the program to the community. With continued funding we will be able to offer the program to even more people.”
Professor of Social Work at University of Melbourne, Professor Cathy Humphrey, along with Dr Kristin Diemer and their team, said that the program gave men the chance to change their behaviour and to father more safely.
“In the last 20 years we’ve seen an increase in research and clinical initiatives focusing on fathers who use violence towards their partners and children. What we’ve found is that most children will continue to have contact with their fathers and that many staff often lack the confidence or training to effectively engage with perpetrators.”
“To increase the safety of children and partners we need to look at pathways that consider the perpetrators perspective and hold fathers to account for their behaviour.
“This combined with the knowledge that men are far more likely to engage in a program if the program philosophy includes gaining skills to be a better father, makes programs like Caring Dads an incredibly valuable way of effectively treating family violence.”
To read the full evaluation report from the University of Melbourne please visit www.kidsfirstaustralia.org.au/caringdads
Please note, the Caring Dads program is currently running at capacity. For further information about the program please visit www.kidsfirstaustralia.org.au
Clare Lombardi, Marketing & Communications Manager, Kids First
0427 181 778