The Aboriginal Male’s Healing Centre (AMHC) will work closely with other government agencies and business to ensure the delivery of quality infrastructure and programs to support sustainable economic and social development around family and domestic violence in the Pilbara region for Aboriginal Males who use violence.
The following priorities will provide the focus for the AMHC in terms of the development of strategies and funding allocation.
Reclaiming the image and protection of Aboriginal Males and their Children – “Sons of Father’s”.
Much research has focused on whether and to what extent children who are exposed to domestic violence become perpetrators or victims of family violence as adults (see Flood & Fergus 2008). Given the apparent pervasiveness of the problem of childhood exposure to domestic violence, this is an important area for social, legal and public policy concern.
Although results have been mixed, studies have indicated that children from violent homes may be likely to exhibit attitudes and behaviours that reflect their childhood experiences of witnessing domestic violence. Research has suggested, for example, that children’s exposure to domestic violence may result in attitudes that justify their own use of violence and that boys who witness domestic violence are more likely to approve of violence (Edleson 1999).
There is thus ‘some support for the hypothesis that children from violent families of origin carry violent and violence-tolerant roles to their adult intimate relationships’ (Edleson 1999: 861; see also Kovacs & Tomison 2003).
It is important to stress, however, that research findings in this field have been mixed and that ‘most children growing up with violence will become adults who are neither perpetrators nor victims of violence’ (Elizabeth 2005: 2; see also Tomison 2000). Moreover, it is possible that children from violent homes display diverse attitudinal and behavioural responses to violence against women.
A study by VicHealth (cited in Flood & Fergus 2008) found that adults who had been exposed to violence as children could be classified into two ‘attitudinal categories’—those who were significantly more tolerant than average of relationship violence and those who were significantly less tolerant than average of relationship violence.
The AMHC Organisational Development Framework outlines three pillars of capability: ’Our People’, ‘Our Knowledge’ and ‘Our Culture’.
It also highlights the AMHC’s commitment to a shared purpose and CORE values.
Effective stakeholder engagement aligns with several of the commitments under the three pillars including:
• effective collaboration and partnerships
• knowledge sharing and collective learning
• aligned and effective processes
• a capable and empowered workforce.
As a learning organisation, the AMHC has committed to the following CORE values in its relationships with external stakeholders, financial partners, males, woman, children and young people, parents and families, local and global communities:
• Collaboration and knowledge sharing
• Respect and diversity
The AMHC’s CORE values underpin the principles which guide its interaction with stakeholders.
We understand that engagement is a two-way process and appreciate the benefits of mutual learning (between stakeholders and the AMHC). The AMHC values stakeholders’ contribution to improving outcomes.
We commit to seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially interested or affected by AMHC’s work, including those that are harder to reach for reasons such as language, culture, age or mobility.
We will make efforts to ensure information is accessible and objective and facilitate engagement with all stakeholders who have an interest.
We will provide information so stakeholders can participate in a meaningful way and will foster a culture of sharing ideas.
We will value stakeholders and use their input to improve policy and outcomes. The AMHC will actively listen to and understand stakeholder needs, seeking to understand how they want to be engaged, based on their particular circumstances.
Principles of mutual respect and trust are fundamental to establishing effective stakeholder engagement. To maximise the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement, the AMHC expects our stakeholders to be open, transparent, trustworthy and respectful in all engagement processes.
Providing opportunities for Aboriginal Males to express their views and ideas directly to government, industry and non-government agencies is very important. It can provide clarity and inspiration, provoke thought, or a revision of what was thought acceptable. It must be a vital part of the business of providing services to Aboriginal males and their families.
‘Participation’ is the active involvement of Aboriginal males in being informed, expressing their views, having their views listened to, and making decisions. Throughout Western Australia there are limited, positive examples of Aboriginal males participating in their local community, for example, in employment and community groups.
Why is participation important? We will make Aboriginal males more visible by involving them directly in decisions that impact on them and better outcomes will be reached when their views are taken into account and seriously considered.
They have a role in building and sustaining communities. Participation increases the social inclusion of Aboriginal males and gives us a more complete picture about how their communities work.
Participation helps develop Aboriginal men’s level of responsibility and decision-making skills. It improves their relationships and ability to communicate with professionals and peers, and increases their sense of control and self-esteem.
Consultation with Aboriginal male’s as users of the AMHC service or program is simply good business practice. Their involvement can make sure what is provided is what is needed, leads to an increased use of the service and improves their experience of our service. Further, men are more likely to feel that our service is better or the process and outcome is fairer if they have been involved in its development.
There are different forms of participation. Key techniques are:
Consultation: a short-term or one-off mechanism for men to be involved in decision- making about a limited set of issues. Examples of this technique include focus groups or surveys.
Involvement: working together to ensure Aboriginal male’s views are considered in the decisions made by decision-makers, for example a stakeholder meeting.
Collaboration: a partnership with men where decision making is shared, for example a men’s advisory council.
Empowerment: placing the final decision-making in the hands of men. An example of this includes a men’s conference, group or body run by men.
Each technique requires a different strategy and allocation of resources and can be used to achieve different outcomes. It is important, however, that participation is meaningful for the men involved.
If our consultation is to be meaningful, documents as well as processes need to be made accessible. But appearing to ‘listen’ to men is relatively unchallenging; giving due weight to their views requires real change. Listening to men should not be seen as an end in itself, but rather as a means by which AMHC make our interactions with the men and their actions on behalf of men ever more sensitive to the implementation of men’s rights.
Meaningful participation resulting in positive outcomes for Aboriginal male’s and our organisation occurs with careful planning. Participation techniques and methods shall be carefully tailored to the issue. In some circumstances, it would be too great a burden to expect men to make the decision. For example, in family law matters a man’s involvement may not be appropriate. On the other hand, a collaboration technique enabling men to share the decision making with the decision-makers could be suitable in AMHC planning decisions or in making policy recommendations.
It may be necessary to ‘shake up’ existing attitudes and practices if participation with Aboriginal male’s is going to be meaningful for them and achieve benefits for our organisation.
Poor participation practice
Good participation practice
Participation as an afterthought (a tick a-box addition to decision making), a one off, or a fad.
Embed participation as a valued organisational practice.
Focussing only on process rather than outcomes.
Look at what will be improved for Aboriginal males as a result of their participation.
Negative decision-maker attitudes – ‘it’s easier to do it ourselves’, ‘they don’t really want to be involved’, ‘we’ve made good decisions for years without men’.
Value participation as a right, acknowledge the benefits of engagement, realise that Aboriginal males have different world views
Becoming ‘stuck’ in rigid and imposed participation requirements.
We will be flexible to develop participation methods best suited to the issue and the men involved
Participation being (or appearing to be) tokenistic or manipulative. Aboriginal male’s feeling frustrated with the process.
We shall be clear about what we are trying to achieve and the level of participation. Seek feedback during the process, show evidence of how views have influenced decision-making and explain why something different has happened.