A collaboration led by local organisations is aimed at taking a new approach to tackling domestic violence in the Bundaberg Region.
IMPACT Community Services, Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre and Family Law Pathways Network has announced their partnership with Griffith University Queensland to bring the MATE Bystander Program to the region.
MATE, an acronym for Motivating Action Through Empowerment, is an education and intervention tool which aims to teach everyday community members to be leaders in the prevention of violence and conflict.
Queensland Court figures show the number of applications for domestic violence orders lodged in Bundaberg was up 31.8% (468 v 355) for the year to the end of March in comparison to the corresponding period in 2019-20; the largest increase anywhere in Queensland.
The MATE program teaches people to become proactive bystanders with the tools and understanding to step in and address problematic behaviour.
The bystander approach focuses not on the perpetrator or victim of violence, rather what the wider community can do to prevent violence in homes, workplaces, schools and communities.
The program challenges the root attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that normalise violence against women, inequality, racism, discrimination and bullying within our society.
Previously the program has only been offered to organisations however Griffith University’s MATE team wants to pilot whether this service can be expanded by training community members to deliver it in a local context and, if successful, on a wider scale.
IMPACT’s Intensive Family Support Manager Melissa Clarke said the program offered an opportunity for the community to respond to violence as a whole.
“This is about looking at the issue not only from a domestic violence lens but also as violence in general,” Ms Clarke said.
“This program aims to make a stand and encourage people to consider the right thing to do.
“It’s around being aware of what violence actually is and if you do see some form of violence, knowing what some strategies are to respond in a safe manner so that bystanders can walk away knowing they did the right thing.”
Griffith University will deliver a three-day MATE training course to 30 participants in August.
In preparation for this, IMPACT will host an information session on May 18 from 10am to midday for those who are interested in participating in the training.
The program slogan of “be someone that does something” urges all community members to get involved.
Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre’s Bec Spruce said everyone was encouraged to attend.
“Anybody can be a bystander, we’re talking to you,” she said.
“This initiative is a whole of community approach that welcomes people from all backgrounds.
“Even if people may not be eligible for a place in the training, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a voice – we are here to listen too.”
For more information or to register phone IMPACT on 4153 4233 or visit https://impact.org.au/the-mate-program/.
To learn more about the MATE Program go to https://matebystander.edu.au/about/.