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New pilot program to help combat domestic and family violence

Dechlan Brennan -

The Victorian government has announced a new pilot program with Aboriginal service Dardi Munwurro to tackle family and domestic violence at the source.

The Changing Ways pilot program is designed to ensure keep victim/survivors safe through intensive interventions and individual behaviour change work on the offender.

Dardi Munwurro, a Melbourne-based service that offers a range of family violence programs to break the cycle of inter-generational trauma in Aboriginal families and communities, is the third provider selected as part of the state's two-year, $3.2 million trial.

The outcomes of the pilot program are independently evaluated and the Victorian government has said this contributes to the evidence base on what works to address family violence.

Dardi Munwurro chief executive, Gunai man Alan Thorpe, said the program offered a culturally safe and innovative move to counter inter-generational violence.

"Changing Ways will be a ground-breaking program providing a culturally appropriate response to work with the complexities of family violence within First Nations' families and communities," Mr Thorpe said.

A report in 2021 from Deloitte Access Economics found investment in programs run by Dardi Munwurro saved money by reducing their clients' contact with the justice system, as well as improving employment outcomes.

The Dardi Munwurro pilot will run in both the Northern and Southern Metropolitan areas of Melbourne and will be tailored to meet the needs of Indigenous communities by providing culturally sensitive, sensitive and comprehensive responses. The organisation will interact with a range of justice, mental health, family, drug and alcohol services during the trial, with referrals to begin in the coming months.

Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Natalie Hutchins said she looked forward to seeing the results of the program which would support behavioural change in communities.

"We know that when you listen to and work with communities, you get better outcomes," she said.

Minister for Prevention of Family Violence Vicki Ward said it was "essential" the government supported access to "Aboriginal-led family violence services" and the pilot program is tailored to meet the needs of Indigenous people.

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