A pilot program in Port Macquarie to address violent and aggressive behaviour in men is showing promising early signs.
'Respectful Man' by relationship services not-for-profit Interrelate is designed to combat behaviours that lead to family and domestic violence.
The program is overseen by clinical psychologist, Dr Aaron Simpson, head of Interrelate in the Newcastle region.
Two full pilot programs in Port Macquarie have so far been run as well as a targeted program for high school students exhibiting aggressive behaviour.
"We have seen real behavioural change in these men through the pilot programs," said Dr Simpson.
Dr Simpson said the 8 week program uses group processes and peer support to "help men identify what constitutes being a man; how men can change to become the man they want to be; and how this change can support better relationships with others".
The core success of this program comes from helping these men to develop a level of respect for self that is needed to be able to build and sustain healthy relationships with othersMichael Lea
Interrelate Relationship Counsellor Michael Lea said the core message of the program about self-respect resonates with participants.
"The core success of this program comes from helping these men to develop a level of respect for self that is needed to be able to build and sustain healthy relationships with others," said Mr Lea.
"And from building a relationship of trust with the other men in the group to a level where they are able to hold each other accountable for their behaviour."
Video exit interviews with the program participants demonstrate significant improvements in their attitudes to their partners, families and, most importantly, themselves.
At a public screening of these interviews in the local community, the step-mother of one of the participants, praised the change in her step-son towards his whole family.
Participants report seeing real change in their lives.
"I used to be that person that lashed out all the time and couldn't control when to stop but now I can actually pull myself up," said Chris White who participated in the second Port Macquarie pilot program.
Another participant Bruce said the program was life-changing.
I realised I didn't show anyone respect, myself, my partner, my children and just expected respect from everyone else but wasn't able to give it outBruce
" Suddenly very quickly I realised that I didn't have any respect for myself let alone anyone else," Bruce said.
"I realised I didn't show anyone respect, myself, my partner, my children and just expected respect from everyone else but wasn't able to give it out.
With the third pilot group currently underway in Port Macquarie and another in Taree, Interrelate is now in the process of securing a research partner to demonstrate the efficacy of the program and refine the structure to produce long-term results.
"Our ultimate aim, in addition to working with men who have already developed unhealthy ways of managing their feelings, is to be able to run Respectful Man as part of our school services programs to embed a healthy approach in young men before it becomes a problem," said Dr Simpson.
To find out more about the program contact Interrelate Port Macquarie on 1300 473 528.