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Violence against women and children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.


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“Growing to be a better person”: Exploring the client­–worker relationship in men’s behaviour change group work programs

The project explored the perceptions of multiple stakeholders about how the client-worker relationship influences each man’s change in attitude and behaviour, as well as his engagement in men’s behaviour change programs (MBCPs).

The study involved 65 semi-structured, conversational style, in-depth interviews with MBCP participants, MBCP facilitators, supervisors of facilitators, and partners/ex-partners of participants.

The study was conducted in partnership with two MBCPs at three sites: the Men and Family Centre in Lismore and Tweed Heads, New South Wales; and Centacare in Southport, Queensland.

The study found that facilitators of MBCPs can build personalised client–worker relationships, using self-disclosure to forge an emotional bond and build trust with participants. These personalised client–worker relationships can create an environment conducive to behavioural and attitudinal change.

The study highlighted that there is a risk of collusion when facilitators have a strong emotional investment in participants and identified ways in which collusion can be prevented.

The study also found that maintaining personalised client–worker relationships can heighten the emotional load on facilitators, and that this can manifest in gendered ways.



Publication details

This work is part of the ANROWS Research reports series. ANROWS Research reports (Horizons) are in-depth reports on empirical research produced under ANROWS’s research program.


Senior Lecturer, Southern Cross University.

ISBN: 978-1-925925-39-5 (print) | 978-1-925925-40-1 (online)

86 pp.


Suggested citation

Reimer, E. C. (2020). “Growing to be a better person”: Exploring the client-worker relationship in men’s behaviour change program (Research report, 15/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.

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