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Two year pilot Breathing Space to tackle Pilbara’s domestic violence crisis in South Hedland

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Housing and Homelessness Minister John Carey, Melissa Perry and Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel.
Camera IconHousing and Homelessness Minister John Carey, Melissa Perry and Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel. Credit: Suppied/DPC

A two-year pilot to provide a men’s behavioural change program will be rolled out in the Pilbara to help address the problem of family and domestic violence.

Breathing Space is a voluntary, men’s residential behaviour change program for perpetrators of family and domestic violence.

Established in 2003 in Calista it was the first residential men’s behaviour change program in the southern hemisphere with a second program established in Maylands in 2019.

The program focuses on supporting men to understand and take responsibility for their violence, anger and abuse with participants spending up to six months living at the facility.

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Participants complete an intensive therapeutic program that includes group work, individual counselling and case management.

The State Government provided Communicare with a Lotterywest grant of $1,840,240 to staff, manage and evaluate the trial.

Members of Communicare, South Hedland police and GBSC Yurra with John Carey and Kevin Michel.
Camera IconMembers of Communicare, South Hedland police and GBSC Yurra with John Carey and Kevin Michel. Credit: Supplied/DPC

The Port Hedland program will also provide a short-stay residential crisis service for men who have received 24 or 72 hour police orders removing them from the family home for using violence and abuse.

Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk said the rate of domestic violence in the Pilbara was unacceptably high.

“The funding will allow this important men’s behaviour change program to be trialled and evaluated in regional WA for the first time,” she said.

“Taking men out of the family home allows women and children to stay connected with their local support networks, including schools, healthcare providers and community services.

“There is a demand for behaviour change programs for perpetrators of family and domestic violence, and this is an important step in improving support for people in regional WA.”

The facility includes nine units that were refurbished by GBSC Yurra and funded through the State Government’s Social Housing Economic Recovery Package.

Housing and Homelessness Minister John Carey said working with men through residential behaviour change programs was an important part of the family and domestic violence response, preventing pathways to homelessness for women and children.

“The accommodation to be used as part of the Breathing Space program is a key part of this Government’s commitment to tackle the scourge of family and domestic violence in the Pilbara,” he said.

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said the program would not only help reduce family and domestic violence, but the drivers of homelessness in the region.

The initiative commenced as one of three Vital Change Programs rolled out in the region under the Pilbara Family and Domestic Violence Network, with BHP contributing $500,000 towards the project.

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