Men’s Outreach Workshops (MOW)
Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services of the ACT
What is the project about?
The aims of the Men’s Outreach Workshops (MOW) Program are to:
- help participants to develop knowledge and awareness measures to prevent and combat domestic and family violence;
- contribute towards a reduction in violence against women and their children through preventative measures;
- assist participants to develop knowledge and awareness on the issue to build the conversation within their own communities and within the mainstream community; and
- work with men in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities in Canberra. The communities involved are from Sudan, Sierra Leone, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The community leaders and members on the Steering Committee were asked to oversee the effectiveness of the project and support the implementation of community-led solutions to drive long term, sustainable changes.
Between June 2018 and June 2019, MARSS conducted 6 workshops. In total 106 men each attended one or more of the workshops. In addition to men from the 10 identified communities attending the workshops, men from Ethiopia, Liberia, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Tibet, Eritrea, Cambodia, Guinea, New Zealand, South Sudan and Thailand also attended.
Workshop presentations included:
- Prevention practice and respectful relationships: Conducted by EveryMan and Toora;
- Domestic and Family Violence – Addressing the drivers of domestic and family violence: Conducted by the Domestic Violence Crisis Service;
- The role of the family violence team and police in the family violence space: Conducted by the Australian Federal Police;
- Supports available for victims of domestic and family violence: Conducted by the Department of Human Services; and
- Encouraging young men to talk to counsellors and other support staff: Conducted by Menslink.
The first workshop comprised one full day session. The remaining five workshops comprised half-day sessions. Interpreters were provided by MARSS if required.
The Program was promoted to service agencies on ethnic radio, and promotional flyers in different languages were distributed through MARSS caseworkers, community leaders and other service providers.
Action research focus
MARSS identified a gap in CALD education programs available to men in the ACT. The focus of the action research was to increase awareness in the community on how to prevent and reduce domestic and family violence.
MARSS’ action research activities included:
- workshop participants completing feedback forms for evaluation after each session with interpreters to assist if needed;
- the project officer observing what the participants and presenters said and did during the workshops and in sharing their feedback during the workshops to improve their delivery; and
- sharing the feedback from the workshops with Steering Committee members, enabling the Project Office to fine tune the delivery of the workshops.
Where was the project conducted?
June 2018 – June 2020.
How has this project impacted communities, organisations and your region?
Feedback from the 106 men who attended the 6 sessions indicates that there is an increased awareness in the community on how to prevent and combat domestic and family violence. Of the 95 men who completed the feedback forms after the workshops:
- 81 per cent (77 men) said they found it easy to talk about domestic violence;
- 86 per cent (82 men) said they would be able to talk to their family and friends about the presentations; and
- 89 per cent (85 men) said they would be interested in attending a similar program in the future.
Feedback from participants included the following responses:
- “I appreciate the Program. This Program should continue.”
- “The presentation is good for our community and family, so I like it.”
- “This training is actually good to attend…because it educates men on how to handle family problems.”
- “I think it very much necessary for our community.”
The Project Officer regularly meets with office bearers from each community and encourages leaders to participate in MARSS-led community consultations and the MOW Steering Committee. This has resulted in men from the Sierra Leonean community taking the message of positive family relationships on to the soccer field during the African Tournament on 15 September 2018 and sharing the message with their families and friends after the tournament.
Attendees at the 23 February 2019 MOW workshop also asked the Project Officer if the model used to deliver the workshops could be replicated in a workshop delivered specifically for the Sierra Leonean community. MARSS has given in-principle support to deliver this style of workshop.
What worked well?
- Reducing the length of the workshops from a full day to a half day worked well and did not conflict with the working hours and religious commitments.
- During the first session, a Sudanese artist shared some of his wisdom relating to positive family relationships through his pictures.
What did not work?
- Some community leaders were unable to participate because of work commitments. The Project Officer sought permission from these leaders to involve other community members to make the workshops and steering committee meetings a success.
- Anecdotal information indicated that the original flyer containing the words “Learn about the importance of reducing family violence through community awareness” did not attract men to the workshops. A female member of the Steering Committee suggested changing the wording to “Learn about the importance of positive family relationships and how to reduce family violence through community awareness.” This change was made, and men are now more accepting of the language contained in the flyer, which is reflected in improved attendance numbers at the workshops.
- Relationships Australia and Families ACT were unable to commit presenters to talk on any of the topics assigned at any of the workshops because of resource constraints. The Project Officer successfully sought the help of other presenters to cover these topics.
What did you learn from the project?
MARSS received two key messages from the ANROWS Action Research workshops: that violence against women and their children is preventable and that changing attitudes is a big part of having a future where women and their children live free from violence. We also increased our awareness of:
- the gendered drivers of violence and how they operate across norms, practices and structures to create the conditions in which violence against women is more likely to occur;
- the structured gender roles of men and women in the African communities and the importance of community participation strategies in changing gender and family roles in Australia; and
- the ways in which members of different sub-groups of men (for example, single men, married men and elders) may bring different interests and concerns to workshop settings.
Do you have suggestions for policy-makers, educators or service providers?
- That the Federal and State/Territory Governments consider funding a 1-2 week national campaign, held each year over 3 years, using existing billboards next to busy roads and on buildings in CBD areas promoting messages with the aim of making people sit up and pay attention to the issue of family and domestic violence in Australia.
- The continued success of this program would not have been possible without further funding – increased resourcing for future programs is advisable.
Where to from here?
MARSS will continue to seek grant funding opportunities to support the continuation of this project.
People and organisations to thank:
We would like to thank the Australian Government Department of Social Services; ANROWS; and presenters: EveryMan Coordinator/Senior Practitioner Simon Port and Toora Acting Senior Manager Sara Paniker; Domestic Violence Crisis Service staff; Department of Human Services Multicultural Service Officers, Mark Hermes and Carmel Eustice; First Constable Brandon Thurgar, Family Violence Co-ordination Unit, ACT Policing; Menslink Operations Manager Peter Davis; and Sudanese artist Majok Leek.