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‘Start Today Again’

Father and child

Salvation Army staff and other practitioners met in Coburg last month to undertake a two-day training course in ‘Start Today Again’ (STA), by Dr Ron Frey and Don McCrae. The program is designed to try to help fathers heal relationships after family and domestic violence, and is aimed at those who have used violence against their families, as well as onlookers, sporting clubs, educators, ethnic communities, prisons and courts, and other interested groups.

The training examined in depth the various aspects and impacts of abuse – financial, spiritual, physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, emotional, and developmental – and the accompanying realities of mental health difficulties, and poorer satisfaction in adult life.

It is hoped that the love of their children will spur men who use violence against their loved ones to change their behaviour; that their desire to be good parents can serve as a platform to overcome their own pursuit of power and dominance.

‘We have to attempt to break this cycle of abuse,’ said Mr McCrae, ‘and unless we attempt to do so, and educate people, it will continue.’

As well as examining the impacts of witnessing family violence on children’s developing brains, inter-generational trauma and abuse, masculinity and socialisation, parenting relationships and impacts, the program and its researchers point to the prospect of achieving behavioural change.

The need for a holistic, whole of community approach to abuse precipitated the broad targeting of the resource and acknowledged the extent of FDV. STA is designed to be used in conjunction with existing programs.

‘In 14 years of working in prisons*,’ Mr McCrae, said, ‘there’s not one person I’ve worked with who has not experienced family violence.’

Discussing intergenerational trauma, Dr Frey said ‘we are not looking for an excuse; we’re looking for a place to start. Being mistreated is not absolution for your own actions; we see intergenerational trauma as an opportunity to address reasons for offences and an opportunity to change behaviour.

‘You can’t be a violent partner and a good father,’ said Dr Frey. ‘This program and toolkit is not a panacea to the problem. We need a whole of community response and engagement with law enforcement. It is not suggested that this will “solve” family violence in and of itself.’
* Mr McCrae has worked with Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) survivors for 40 years.

Click here for the Paul Kelly song that inspired the name of the program (Mr Kelly has permitted the use of the song by the program)
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