Crossing borders, setting boundaries: Findings from an evaluation of the cross border Indigenous family violence program

Matthew Willis1*, Sarah Holcombe2

1 Australian Institute of Criminology
2 Australian National University

* corresponding author:

The NPY Lands of Central Australia are home to 13 communities speaking five Western Desert languages. The Lands straddle the cross border region where the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia meet. It is a vast and sparsely populated area with limited services and infrastructure. Like other remote communities across Australia, the Aboriginal communities in this region exhibit resilience in the face of systemic disadvantage and problems such as family violence.

The Cross Border Indigenous Family Violence Program is a joint initiative of the three cross border governments that works with mandated and voluntary men who have perpetrated family violence. It is a four week, 54 hour group work program that aims to achieve enduring changes in behaviour through culturally and locally appropriate support to address issues of family violence, anger management and substance abuse. The program works from the assumption that an individual can change their behaviour by developing self-awareness and taking responsibility for their actions.

Drawing on the findings from an evaluation of the program led by the Australian Institute of Criminology, this presentation will explore the difficulties of delivering programmatic interventions in remote Central Australia and consider the challenges of achieving positive behavioural change in these communities.


Matthew Willis has been with the AIC for twelve years. His main research areas are crime, justice and community safety issues in Indigenous communities, and correctional policy and practice. He has a strong research interest in Justice Reinvestment and has recently commenced doctoral studies focused on this emerging area. Matthew has operational management and policy experience with a range of Australian and ACT government justice agencies.

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