New research has revealed a program aimed at rehabilitating domestic violence offenders may not be effective but one Wagga lawyer says if just one victim is spared – it’s enough.
A NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research evaluation of treatment program DV EQUIPS showed there was little evidence to suggest a reduction in reoffending after 16 two-hour treatment sessions.
Despite the results, Wagga solicitor David Barron said anything that decreases the rate of domestic violence is worth the trouble.
“For every person it does work for that’s at least one less victim,” he said.
“Anything that reduces the number of victims has got to be a good result.”
Wagga Women’s Health Centre crisis and support worker Julie Mecham said she wasn’t familiar with the DV EQUIPS program but any rehabilitation should focus on changing the offenders attitude toward gender equality.
“Anything that identifies men taking responsibility for their behaviour and sustaining changed behaviour would be great news for our community,” she said.
“The problem in the past is that things like anger management programs missed the point.
“We know domestic violence is not an anger management issue, not drugs and alcohol and not inadequate housing, it’s men using violence against women.”
Ms Mecham said some rehabilitation programs can lead a victim to become misled, heading back into a dangerous situation with no sustained change.
“What we don’t want to see is people falsely misleading the targets of domestic violence into saying look I’ve done this program – any problem now and it’s all on you,” she said.
Mr Barron has watched several offenders go through the DV EQUIPS program and witnessed a mixed bag of results.
“I’ve seen some come out the other side but I think it depends on the motivation of the person doing the program,” he said.
“If a person goes in there with the right attitude then there’s a lot to be gained from the program but if they’re going there simply to tick a box it’s obviously not going to work for them.”
The research suggests the finding is influenced by the fact that just 21.8 per cent of offenders referred to the program complete the treatment.
Mr Barron said a longer period on parole would help offenders finish the program.
Call 1800 RESPECT or Wagga Women’s Health Centre on (02) 6921 3333. In an emergency call triple-zero.