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New approaches to adolescent family violence

Despite around 1 in 10 family violence incidents involving adolescent perpetrators (young people aged 10-17), there are very few interventions to respond to this issue.
We are developing and trialling new ways of holding young people who commit family violence to account and keeping their families safe in Victoria and New South Wales. Our activities include:

  • RESTORE – a restorative justice pilot program for adolescent family violence developed in partnership with the Melbourne Children’s Court.
  • Starting Over – an adolescent family violence pilot program working with schools in Western Sydney.

This work draws from Jesuit Social Services’ experience using restorative practice and principles in responding to youth offending, and offers a Family Group Conference process for young people who have used family violence. It will assist the family member victims and adolescent perpetrators to address the harm caused by adolescent family violence and prevent further violence in the home.

This work is being undertaken in collaboration with governments, police, courts, families, and other community organisations. Both programs are evaluated by experts from the University of Melbourne. Our focus is on building knowledge and capacity to effectively intervene at an earlier stage so that families are safe and young people avoid pathways into the criminal justice system.

Intervening earlier to prevent sexual abuse

There are currently no early interventions in Australia for people who are worried about their sexual thoughts or behaviours in relation to children. The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse recognised this and recommended successful international approaches be considered as part of wider efforts to prevent child sexual abuse.

The Men’s Project is currently undertaking a scoping project to develop new models for early intervention with people at risk of committing sexual abuse. We are looking at successful approaches from North America, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands that provide information and support for adults and young people who are worried about their own thoughts and behaviours, as well as parents, family-members, and professionals who come across child sexual abuse and sexually abusive behaviour.

We are collaborating with academics, practitioners, and governments to develop new models that will then be able to be piloted.

Before It Starts

Most boys grow up to be productive, healthy and responsible members of society.

But some boys drop out of school early. Their family relationships are dysfunctional. They fall in with the wrong crowd. And they end up in trouble.

They cycle in and out of crisis services and the justice system, at immense costs. And as adult men some of them end up being responsible for the most horrific crimes – murders, violence, and acts of extremism.

While we are learning more about the pathways these boys take to end up at the margins of society, our current responses are too often inadequate or too late.

There is a need to develop new ways to identify those at risk between the ages of 8-14 and to support them to remain in school and out of trouble. Present practice is that intervention programs of this nature only begin when boys already are in trouble. Often this is too late. The Men’s Project will focus on these boys Before It Starts.

We will lead work to identify, understand and respond to boys aged 8-14 before the first signs of trouble often present.

Modelling Respect and Equality (MoRE)

We believe that in order to achieve cultural and attitudinal change towards gender equality and around what it means to be a man today, positive role models – both male and female – in the places where boys and men live, work, and meet are crucial.

This is why we have developed Modelling Respect and Equality (MORE) which will trial a new approach for promoting positive attitudes, respectful relationships and gender equality among boys and men.

We will recruit, train and support male and female role models who interact with boys and men on a frequent basis and in a range of settings, including community groups, schools, sporting clubs, and workplaces. Through tailored training and ongoing support, role models will develop the knowledge, awareness, skills and confidence to become influencers for change in their community.

The program aims to be empowering and transformational, nurturing personal growth, building skills and capabilities, and enabling participants to lead the way towards change.

This initiative seeks to address gaps identified in research by OurWatch and ANROWS and will be delivered with funding from the Victorian Government.

Read more about Modelling Respect and Equality or download this brochure with more information.

Our way of proceeding: Gender Justice

The Men’s Project provides the opportunity for Jesuit Social Services to document its approach to gender and gender-related issues, identify opportunities to enhance its approach and to capture the unique ways in which the organisation engages and supports boys and men.

Through this we hope to be able to articulate a further dimension of Our Way of Proceeding – one related to gender justice. This will also involve seeking accreditation against OurWatch and Workplace Gender Equality Agency standards.