Prioritising women’s safety in Australian perpetrator interventions: Mapping the purpose and practices of partner contact. Key findings and future directions
The findings of this study underscore the importance of partner contact as central component of successful men’s behaviour change programs.
Partner contact involves working with the current or ex-partners of a program participant to provide them with support, information and safety planning. This evidence suggests that every woman with a current or former partner involved with such a program should be offered this kind of support from the program or a partner organisation.
The research shows that when MBCPs do not support victims/survivors of domestic violence and involve them in the process of change through partner contact, perpetrators may use their participation in the program as an opportunity to further their abuse. Similarly, if a man stops attending his behaviour change program, the risk to his partner or ex-partners is likely to increase.
In many cases, partner contact is also the first interaction that women and their children have had with formal services. As such, it is a crucial first pathway to support.
For victims/survivors to be safe from violence, they will need ongoing access to these services, regardless of whether their perpetrator is attending a men’s behaviour change program.
However, the study found that in practice partner contact is often not prioritised, as it is labour-intensive and resources are limited.
The findings also show that across the various kinds of Australian perpetrator interventions, there is no consistent approach to involving partners in this process.
This paper provides recommendations for policy and practice, including:
- National minimum-practice standards should be developed for partner support as a component of all men’s behaviour change programs, ensuring a shared understanding among services about the importance of their partner contact work, and the goals, processes and ethics that underpin it.
- Funding and resourcing of partner contact services should be provided in a way that allows these shared minimum standards to be met.
- Funding bodies should coordinate their criteria to ensure that effective partner contact is prioritised when granting funds.
A Practice Guide has been developed to help frontline workers apply the new evidence and prioritise victim/survivor safety when working with perpetrators of domestic and family violence.
ANROWS Research to policy and practice papers are concise papers that summarise key findings of research on violence against women and their children, including research produced under ANROWS’s research program, and provide advice on the implications for policy and practice.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2020). Prioritising women’s safety in Australian perpetrator interventions: Mapping the purpose and practices of partner contact (Research to policy and practice, 08/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.