An “unprecedented demand” for violence prevention programs during COVID-19 has seen waitlists for the services of ACT men’s referral service partner, EveryMan, blow out to eight weeks.
EveryMan has received more than 300 referrals for counselling and group programs since late February but was forced to deliver its programs over the phone until social distancing requirements could be met.
EveryMan chief executive officer Greg Aldridge said despite the changes in operations, the referral service remained active during lockdown and men were always able to call and seek connections with external services.
“We made sure anyone struggling with their anger had somewhere to ring,” he said.
After months of adjusted services, they are re-opening their group programs.
EveryMan began as a two day a week drop-in centre with one part-time counsellor. Now, 15 years later, the organisation has eight counsellors and one case worker who deliver services in counselling, group programs and violence prevention services.
Mr Aldridge said EveryMan takes a positive view of men’s potential and gives them a fair hearing.
“We don’t condone violence, but we take the strong philosophical view that it’s in men’s interest to address their violent urges.
“Violent men aren’t having a great time either.”
Men are referred to EveryMan by police, neighbours, family members and about half refer themselves.
Client services manager Alistair Jones said regardless of how men end up at EveryMan, the program was entirely voluntary.
“We don’t accept anyone without self-incentive,” he said.
“They have to want to be here.
“But we do find that within one session, most men see the worth of the program.
“We see their value and give them useful and relevant tools.”
Mr Aldridge said over the years he has seen the stigma “ease a little” and the way men have become a little more comfortable with having emotions.
“We’ve chipped away at it over time, but there is still an element of macho,” he said.
“But I’ve had men call and say, ‘Something really bad nearly happened last night’ or ‘Me and my buddy want to come and do your violence prevention program’ so it’s more likely that we can have those conversations today.”
Mr Aldridge said the program works because it is case-management based, and they stay in touch with the latest research and test their standards against other programs in the country.
If you or someone you know needs help addressing violent urges – you can call the Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491).