A new report just released shows clearly that targeted government investment in Aboriginal community-led men’s healing and behaviour change programs delivers better healing outcomes and significant economic savings. The report Strengthening Spirit and Culture: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Dardi Munwurro’s Men’s Healing Programs explains the findings of an analytical study by Deloitte Access Economics of the impacts of three programs delivered by Dardi Munwurro, a Victorian specialist Aboriginal healing and family violence prevention service.

The groundbreaking study, funded by The Healing Foundation, proves the economic benefits associated with Aboriginal men’s healing. Dardi Munwurro CEO, Alan Thorpe, said that Dardi’s men’s programs work with men to address a range of issues that can lead to violence, including trauma, mental health issues, drug and alcohol misuse, unstable housing, unemployment, and identity issues. “We create a space where men feel safe to talk about their feelings and emotions,” Mr Thorpe said.

“We talk about relationships and family, and your responsibility as an Aboriginal man. We support the men, but we challenge negative behaviours. ”The report identifies a range of positive outcomes from Dardi’s programs, and Deloitte has monetised the impacts of the programs stemming from clients’ reduced contact with criminal justice, and improved employment outcomes. The analysis found that each dollar invested in Dardi Munwurro is estimated to provide a return on investment of 50-190 per cent, noting that this should be viewed as a conservative estimate of benefits as it was not possible to quantify all benefits from the programs. The report indicates the largest benefit comes from reduced rates of incarceration, with the rate of incarceration of Dardi clients decreasing from 13 per cent pre-program to 4 per cent post-program. Every avoided case of incarceration represents a saving to government of over $90,000 per annum.

Healing Foundation CEO, Fiona Cornforth, said that there is inadequate investment in cultural practices for creating safe and well individuals and families. “Mainstream violence prevention programs are not working for First Nations families,” Ms Cornforth said. “First Nations men’s healing and violence prevention programs face a constant battle to access funding, despite the lives they change each day for survivors of trauma, and users of violence. “We have the evidence to back up our experiences now that there is a return on investment for the taxpayer, and ultimately savings for governments, if an investment is made in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s healing – our way, led by our expertise.