Partnering with The Glen on men’s behaviour change

June 3, 2022

Men who may have a history of violence but who wish to understand themselves better are taking part in a ground-breaking program delivered by CatholicCare Diocese of Broken Bay (CCDBB) at The Glen on the Central Coast.

The Glen was established by the Ngaimpe Aboriginal Corporation in 1994 and is the only male-specific Central Coast Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre. It provides opportunities for drug and alcohol rehabilitation for Indigenous and non-Indigenous men from all over NSW.

Peter Lear, Program Lead for CCDBB’s Men’s Domestic and Family Interventions, says the workshops came from a longstanding relationship between CCDBB and The Glen. “We have a long relationship of providing counselling and other programs with The Glen,” says Peter, who is a counsellor with in-depth experience in the area of family and domestic violence. “And in July and August last year we started doing this workshop about men’s behaviour change online with a group of men at The Glen. In conjunction with The Glen, we asked what kinds of issues are important to the men at this point.”

Since then, the CCDBB team has conducted a series of workshops, both online during the COVID pandemic and, more recently, face-to-face in an outdoor ‘yarning circle’ setting at The Glen’s Central Coast property.

Peter says the workshop covers a range of topics, including emotional regulation.

“We’re very much looking at anger and helping the men to understand anger and to explore ways of experiencing anger that are not violent,” he says. “We also look at the topic of masculinity – what does it mean to be a man in today’s society? We unpack some of the unhelpful images of masculinity that might be tied to violent behaviour. And finally, we focus on awareness, or self-awareness, to be aware of thinking and feeling patterns and how they can influence behaviour. We provide strategies to help the men be more aware of their thoughts and feelings, as well as options for action – options that are not harmful to other people and themselves.”

As part of the workshop, the men are invited to look at the things that might trigger violent behaviours in them and are given tools to help them intervene when they feel their emotions rising.

“We look at how the body and emotions are linked and how to spot the signs in their body that they are experiencing certain emotions, and then to take action before their behaviour becomes violent,” Peter says.

Danielle Habib, who is a Primary Prevention Education officer for CCDBB and works in the area of domestic and family violence prevention and support, says the whole experience of delivering the workshops at The Glen, has been “wonderful”. “Even just the decision to take the workshop outside, under the trees rather than inside has made a huge difference,” she says. “The men do a lot of their talking around the fire pit and it’s a very relaxed, safe and non-judgmental atmosphere.” She says most of the men attending the workshop have been raised in domestic violence situations and don’t know how to have healthy relationships because of a lack of positive role-modelling. “We designed the program by finding out what are the men asking for. We thought it was really important to ask the men what they’re needing and not just to impose what we think they’re needing,” she says.

Peter and Danielle present the workshops together, which helps set the stage for the material to be covered.

“By presenting together, we’re modelling how to show respectful behaviour towards people of the opposite sex, with good humour and a positive working relationship,” she says. “The workshop is not a shaming or blaming process. Rather, it’s inviting the men to take responsibility for identifying where the wheels have fallen off in the past and what they can change, in order to be the best man, father and partner they can be. “We provide them with the tools for their kit in how to make the necessary behaviour change. It’s a therapeutic approach and we then give them different options and pathways to take going forward.”

Peter and Danielle say that the workshops have received positive feedback and CCDBB has also been invited to deliver programs at The Glen for Women, a yet-to-be-opened drug and alcohol facility for women. For further information please call 1800 324 924.

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