A Child-Centered Approach to Perpetrator Intervention

October 23, 2018

The upcoming 2018 STOP Domestic Violence Conference will be held at QT, Gold Coast over 3 and 4 December with optional workshops on 5 December. 

Joining us at the conference is Mrs Monique Yeoman, State Wide Coordinator, Caring Dads at Kids First who will present on ‘The Velvet Covered Sledgehammer”: A Child-Centered Approach to Perpetrator Intervention’.


Family Violence is a major health and welfare issue in Australia. Too often the responsibility for keeping children safe rests with mothers, while fathers who use violence are isolated and marginalised, limiting opportunities for meaningful change and relationship repair.
In this paper we show that men who have used violence in their family relationships can be challenged and motivated to take responsibility for ending their abusive behaviour, and develop more child-centred fathering.

The Children’s Protection Society and ReGen, in partnership with the Universities of Toronto and Melbourne, are undertaking a Victorian trial of Caring Dads, a Canadian intervention program for fathers who have neglected or physically and/or emotionally abused their children; exposed their children to domestic violence or are deemed high-risk for these behaviours. Caring Dads helps raise father’s awareness of and responsibility for their use of abusive and unhealthy parenting strategies by utilising best practice across parenting, child abuse, perpetrator interventions, behaviour change and working with difficult-to-engage clients to enhance the safety and wellbeing of children.

Two years into the trial, feedback from fathers, mothers and referrers is showing us how Caring Dads makes a difference for children and their families. One father described Caring Dads as a “velvet-covered sledgehammer” that pushed him to confront the impact of his use of violence on his children, while respecting his desire to be a better father. The experience of feeling listened to empathically helps fathers to reflect and move beyond entrenched patterns of self-centred parenting choices rooted in deep shame. Many fathers describe having a greater sense of connection with their children, and evidence suggests that this increased empathy is a protective factor against his future use of violence. While holding father’s accountable for their use of family violence, this program approach acts as ‘velvet sledgehammer’ to promote change and repair.


Monique Yeoman is social work trained and has primarily worked in the field of child and family safety and wellbeing for the past 15 years. Her background of working in the Child Protection system in New Zealand and Victoria over a 10-year period exposed her to inter-generational patterns of family violence and raised her interest in working with perpetrators to effect meaningful change.

For further information and to book tickets for the 2018 STOP Domestic Violence Conference please visit www.stopdomesticviolence.com.au