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  • The Advertiser

Surge in calls to new hotline helping men recognise red flags for domestic violence

Lauren Novak April 22, 2021 - 6:26PM Counselling services are already fielding a spike in calls from men who fear they could harm their families, in the wake of two horrific murders in two days. South Australia’s Don’t Become That Man hotline and website has recorded a “marked” increase in demand following the alleged murder of baby Kobi Shepherdson by her father on Wednesday and the killing of Gold Coast mother Kelly Wilkinson on Tuesday. Leigh Garrett, whose organisation runs the hotline, said men were often prompted to seek help after highly public crimes of family violence and there had already been calls from some who were “fearful of exhibiting the same behaviour and taking the same actions” as the two men charged over those deaths. “They reach out in the hope that they can get some help when they’re in a moment of self reflection and they can see the stark consequences,” Mr Garrett said. The Don’t Become That Man hotline launched in June last year with Federal Government funding allocated to address a spike in domestic violence reports during COVID-19 lockdowns. Kobi Shepherdson was killed by her father at the Whispering Wall in the Barossa. Picture: SA Police Extra money was also given to men’s programs run by Aboriginal-led organisation KWY. So far at least 514 men have used the two services, and for 80 per cent it was the first time they had sought help. Most were aged 25 to 44 but, in a worrying sign, 13 per cent were in their teens or early 20s. Another 156 South Australian men rang the national Men’s Referral Service, which also received a federal funding boost last year. State Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said the services were crucial to addressing the issue at its cause. “If we want women and children to be free from violence the onus is on men to take responsibility and change their behaviour,” she said.

White Ribbon Australia executive director Brad Chilcott acknowledged it could be “incredibly hard for men to admit to themselves that they’re being violent” but urged them to reflect on “what happens in their home”.

“We’ve seen this week what happens when men don’t reach out early,” he said. “The most important thing is to reach out as soon as you sense that that’s where your mind or attitude is starting to go.” Centacare deputy director Pauline Connelly said most men “would be devastated” by the deaths of Kobi and Ms Wilkinson this week.

“What we need is men to talk to other men about how bad this is,” she said. Centacare offers men’s counselling, and runs a support program for single fathers and a school course educating boys about respectful relationships. Kobi Shepherdson murder: Surge in calls to counselling hotlines | The Advertiser (

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