Victorian Aboriginal family violence prevention service, Dardi Munwurro (Strong Spirit), has launched a 24-hour hotline to support Aboriginal men in need of a yarn.

Dedicated to building stronger and safer families and communities, Dardi Munwurro supports Aboriginal men in embracing self-determination and breaking cycles of intergenerational trauma.

The Brother to Brother hotline was launched in March to combat the impact of COVID-19 on families. It operates 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week and seeks to assist Aboriginal men struggling with relationships, family violence, drug and alcohol issues or COVID-19 induced stress.

The hotline is staffed entirely by Aboriginal men—including Elders—all of whom have relevant lived experience and expertise.

Dardi Munwurro CEO, Alan Thorpe, spoke of the increased stress within families as a result of COVID-19. He said as with many of the programs the organisation offers, the hotline focuses on preventing, as “preventing is better than curing”.

“If we can get to men and connect with men in stressful situations where we can talk through that build up phase or offload some of that stress, they’ll be more present in the household and more supportive,” said Thorpe.

“Kids need emotional support and partners need emotional support as well, you have to be able … to provide that.” 

With COVID-19 restrictions tightening again across Victoria, the hotline continues to provide an avenue of support.

“The hotline was critical, incidents can happen any time of the day but where do our men or communities or families reach out to after hours, after five?”

“To be able to answer that call and talk to someone or counsel someone over the phone and just yarn in our way has really been amazing.”

Four months after its launch, the hotline has averaged around 100 calls per month. The organisation has received positive feedback and has hopes to extend the service.

“We set it up thinking local Victoria, but we’d like to go national. We’d like to be able to provide a national [hotline],” Thorpe said.

“However, the bigger you get the more resources you need.”

While mainstream support for family violence prevention and men’s issues already exist, Dardi Munwurro provides support that is holistic and culturally safe for Aboriginal men, women and families.

“A lot of our people don’t always use [mainstream services], so having alternatives are important and we have to be able to have our own to have that safe space,” said Thorpe.

“The 1800 number is a really great outreach we want our men to use. We are really proud of it.”

The Brother to Brother hotline runs 24/7. Photo supplied by Dardi Munwurro.

Thorpe also stressed the importance and safety of picking up the phone to hear another Aboriginal person on the other end.

“We can relate to each other—having that cultural overlay and that cultural perspective and understanding is really imperative around how we pick up the phone, how we talk, how we understand all the issues and feel the issues,” said Thorpe.

“The great thing about it is that we, as individuals, continue to work through our issues and grow.”

To learn more about Dardi Munwurro, visit: https://www.dardimunwurro.com.au.

To reach the Brother to Brother 24-hour Crisis Line for Aboriginal Men, call 1800 435 799.

By Rachael Knowles