There is a role for housing programs for perpetrators of DFV as men who are removed from the family home and have nowhere else to go are more likely to attempt to return to the family home, which may compromise the safety and security of the women and children.
Such programs also help to keep DFV victims safe by monitoring the ongoing whereabouts of perpetrators, which may help prevent breaches of Intervention Orders (IVOs). [In the 12 months to 30 June 2021, Victoria Police recorded 14,341 Family Violence Intervention orders (with another 79,099 orders not recorded. Breach of family violence order (offence recorded as E21) increased by 22.1% or 2,960 to 16,356 incidents.
Housing programs can also help perpetrators to stay engaged with psychological behavior change programs (either voluntary or court mandated).
The Western Australia Communicare Breathing Space program was the first residential DFV men’s behaviour change program in the southern hemisphere when it commenced operations in June 2003.
The program provides men with up to six months of accommodation while they undertake an intensive therapeutic program which includes group work, individual counselling and case management. It assists men in understanding and taking responsibility for their violence, anger and abuse. It also includes an extended support service, counselling and assistance after the completion of the six month program.
Men access the program via a self-referral, referral by a supporting agency or the courts may require them to attend.
The ACT’s Men — Room4Change program is for men who want to stop their use of violence and controlling behaviours and build healthy, respectful relationships.
While undertaking the program, Room4Change participants can choose to live in one of the program’s fully equipped residences.
The program comprises an eight-week introductory group followed by a 20-week Behaviour Change group. Participants attend group sessions each week and receive one on one support and assistance to help with problems that might contribute to violent behaviour such as employment or financial troubles and drug and alcohol abuse. Ongoing support is available to men and their families once they have completed the program.
The Room4Change program is currently being evaluated, however, the accommodation component has been important. Often men moving into the accommodation (where they have been excluded from the family home) have previously been couch surfing, staying in share houses, or accessing other homelessness services in Canberra that house single men. Having safe, stable and affordable accommodation while in the program assist with engagement and assists the person to pay maintenance to their partner if mandated. Other men have found the accommodation useful as temporary accommodation to use as a part of their de-escalation strategy or as a way of creating space for their partner.