MATE Bystander approach: Coming together to tackle domestic violence

Last updated: 04/05/2021

MATE Bystander approach: Coming together to tackle domestic violence

A new approach to tackle the Bundaberg region’s surging domestic violence rate is set to launch in Bundaberg.

Next Bystander information session 22nd June 2020

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 Bystander Program
Angela Twyford from Family Law Pathways Network, Mel Clarke from IMPACT Community Services and Bec Spruce from Uniting Care & Family Relationship Centre

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 we can all do to prevent violence in our 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 sign up below.

To learn more about the MATE Program go to https://matebystander.edu.au/about/.

What MATE is all about

Every single one of us plays a role in violence prevention—whether it’s something we’re exposed to directly or not. We want you to have the ability to recognise when a problematic situation is taking place and feel empowered to effectively interrupt the behaviour, providing it is safe for you to do so.

It is our aim to raise awareness around the ways in which abusive behaviour is embedded in our culture as well as the subtler issues that support a potentially harmful environment. Our programs challenge the root attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that normalise violence against women, inequality, racism, discrimination and bullying within our society. We recognise that in order to facilitate change, we need to open a dialogue about the dynamics and context of all forms of violence.

You may recognise that violence and discrimination don’t align with your values, but how often do you take a deep dive on the topic in an interactive environment? In our violence prevention programs, we create a safe space for people to share their opinions as well as any experiences they may have had with problematic behaviour to bring light to issues that are often left undiscussed.

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