Men down tools to talk about domestic violence

An innovative pilot program delivering domestic violence education workshops in male-dominated industries has received an extra funding boost from the NSW Government.

Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said extending Toolbox Talks was part of the Government’s $21 million investment in frontline domestic violence services and programs during COVID-19.

“This investment comes at a critical point when more domestic violence victim-survivors are seeking help. At the same time, our Government’s record infrastructure investment means Sydney is teaming with worksites keen to host this unique training,” Mr Speakman said.

“Toolbox Talks aim to engage with men in particular, to break the culture of silence around domestic violence that only serves to stymie much-needed prevention and intervention.

“They’ve been embraced by construction, transport and maritime companies to help workers talk openly about this issue and support them to be a positive influence in their communities.”

Participants learn about the different types of domestic and family violence and the impact it has on individuals, the economy and the community. They are also provided with practical advice, including for bystanders, on how to respond to potential disclosures of violence.

Sutherland Shire Family Services (SSFS) are delivering the program until the end of 2020.

SFSS Chief Executive Officer Ashleigh Daines said now is a crucial time to raise awareness about the different forms of violence and to assist people to identify when violence and non-physical forms of abuse may be impacting someone they know.

“This investment will enable us to reach 1,500 more participants, hold community sessions once a month, and develop a program for young people,” Ms Daines said.

“If we can give people the skills to recognise abusive behaviour and the confidence to speak up, then we are contributing to a culture in which workmates, friends, families and community members can provide support to one another during these unprecedented times.”

SSFS has designed an online option to complement face-to-face sessions, ensuring Toolbox Talks could continue during COVID-19. Workshops are delivered onsite, run for about 40 minutes, and can be tailored to individual workplaces for workers and managers.

The program, developed by SSFS with Singleton Family Support Services, was launched as a pilot in October 2017 following a NSW Government grant.

More than 7,000 workers have completed Toolbox Talks since 2017, with the latest funding boost of $300,000 allowing another 1,500 workers to attend the sessions.

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