Counselling Order Review – Beyond ‘getting him to a program’
The CIJ has reviewed the processes that enable Victoria's specialist Family Violence Courts to order perpetrators of family violence to participate in Men's Behaviour Change Programs.
Victoria’s Specialist Family Violence Courts have been recognised as best practice, in part because of their legislated capacity to order perpetrators of family violence to participate in Men’s Behaviour Change Programs through a mechanism known as Counselling Orders, which has been in operation since 2005. However, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria sought a review of this mechanism and the processes around it to ensure that it has kept pace with an ever evolving evidence base.
As part of this project, the CIJ first conducted an extensive literature review, complemented by consultations with interstate and international experts, to establish an evidence base for a best practice model. The CIJ then consulted all those working in the relevant Victorian programs to identify areas for improvement and opportunities for reform.
The CIJ has now provided a substantial internal report to the court which included practical, organisational materials to support the move to a best practice model. These internal materials will inform the court’s ongoing work as it strengthens its overall responses to perpetrators of family violence. More than a decade on from the establishment of the Counselling Order programs we now understand that best practice perpetrator interventions are about more than simply ‘getting him to a program’ but instead about an integrated web of interventions – including Men’s Behaviour Change Programs and a proactive court – collaborating to improve victim-survivor safety and reduce perpetrator-driven risk.
The CIJ is now working closely with the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and the Judicial College of Victoria to support the uptake of its recommendations. The Literature Review which informed these recommendations is available below.