When he is not captaining Port Adelaide Football Club in the SANFL next season, Cameron Sutcliffe will be in the classroom leading a push to shape the attitudes and values of young men.

The 28-year-old will spearhead the Power to End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) program when it resumes in Term 1 to teach Year 10 boys about respectful relationships.

Sutcliffe will juggle the role with his responsibilities as the Magpies’ leadership player for 2021.

A joint partnership between Power Community Ltd (PCL), Centacare and the Department for Education, PTEVAW has engaged nearly 7000 15-year-old boys in schools across the state since it began in 2016.

Through the primary prevention program, students learn how to recognise and safely stand up to gendered drivers of abuse.

It’s a cause close to Sutcliffe who has seen the impact of domestic and family violence on a few good mates.

“Thankfully they were able to get through it with the supports around them, so programs like this are certainly very important,’’ he said.

Sutcliffe has worked with PTEVAW before, having joined PCL General Manager Jake Battifuoco on a previous school visit.

“It was an eye-opening experience, just to see the young guys take in the message,’’ Sutcliffe said.

“To be able to drive the development of young people, not only on the playing list but also in schools, has become a passion for me and I am grateful that the club has given me the opportunity to do both.’’

In August this year, PTEVAW celebrated its 100th school visit. At the same time, Centacare and PCL launched the EMPOWERED program, which works with girls to foster critical thinking about gender equity and women’s rights.

“Given how important continuity and capacity building over the long-term is for primary prevention, we have high hopes for these programs going forward,’’ said Pauline Connelly, Deputy Director of Centacare.

“Using sport as a hook to start conversations with men and boys around respectful relationships can be a powerful catalyst for change.

“Domestic violence is a choice. The more young people understand the values and attitudes that drive abusive behaviours, the better chance we have of stopping domestic violence before it starts.’’


Picture: Dean Martin

Rebecca McNicol began her social work career supporting our smallest and most vulnerable.

Not long out of university, the then-22-year-old was working in out-of-home care, nurturing young children separated from their families by the child protection system.

Stints in regional family preservation and targeted intervention followed, with a focus on providing critical in-home supports where early child wellbeing or safety risk factors had been identified.

Now a member of Centacare’s Youth and Community Support Services, Rebecca is drawing on these early experiences to support young people and adults at risk later in life.

Many are caught in generational cycles of unresolved crisis which has put them on a multi-directional path to homelessness.

“Trauma manifests in different ways,’’ Rebecca says. “Sometimes the effects of this go unnoticed but then issues come up later in life, and homelessness is usually one of them.’’

Working across Centacare’s Whyalla Generic Homelessness Service (WGHS) and Whyalla Regional Domestic Violence Service (WRDVS), Rebecca sees the full gamut of challenges facing clients aged as young as 15 and up to those in their 60s.

The cumulative effect of years of immense sadness is obvious.

“Perhaps they were removed from mum and dad, placed in Guardianship, but then they get to 18 and they’re out in the big wide world,’’ Rebecca says.

“We see them quite a few years later with pretty significant mental health and drug and alcohol issues, and their housing is one of the things that falls by the wayside.’’

Collectively, the WGHS and WRDVS worked with 543 people In 2019/2020.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness in Australia, and women fleeing unsafe households account for the majority of clients who access specialist supports.

In Whyalla, factors which precipitate homelessness are compounded by limited public transport, Rebecca says, which makes it difficult for many people to access the supports they need. To overcome this barrier, Centacare provides transport assistance to clients.

“No day is the same,’’ Rebecca says. “Sometimes it is really, really difficult, particularly with the domestic violence, and then the people who have just had a challenging hand in life.

“Obviously things can creep up and shock you more than other cases but, for the most part, taking an empathetic approach and perhaps offering an apology – saying sorry that they are upset – that’s huge for some clients.

“At the end of the day being able to offer someone a house so they feel safe and have a roof over their head, that’s a pretty awesome feeling.’’

Rebecca attributes her strong sense of social justice, and her drive to help others less fortunate, to her family’s caring influence.

“My dad worked in the public service with young offenders in maximum security detention centres. He was a youth worker and is now a minister. We travelled all over Australia for Dad’s work which brought about a richness to our life in seeing different things.

“My oldest sister is a social worker, and my other two sisters are in the health field, so we are definitely a family of helpers!’’

*It’s Homelessness Week (August 2-8), a national campaign to raise awareness of the experiences and challenges faced by people living homeless. This year the theme is Everybody Needs a Home. Even before COVID-19, almost 120,000 people had no place to call home each night. Today, many more Australians are currently unemployed, facing rental stress and the possibility of losing their home.

Domestic and family violence is not confined to home – abuse can follow individuals everywhere, including to work.

Understanding and responding to domestic violence in the workplace is the focus of a three-hour workshop being held in Berri today as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

Under the guidance of Dr Katrina Birchmore, Manager, Women’s Safety Strategy, Women’s and Children’s Health Network, businesses will be taught how to recognise and act on early warning signs of abuse.

A joint collaboration between Centacare’s Riverland Domestic Violence Service (RDVS) and Housing SA, the initiative is part of a local community push to widen the safety net for adults and children at risk.

RDVS Manager Sam McKay said one of the best ways employers can protect workers from domestic violence is to learn to recognise warning signs of abuse.

“Many people think domestic violence is a private matter which only happens at home, but abusive behaviours can infiltrate every aspect of a person’s life including their workplace,’’ she said.

“It is usually a pattern of behaviour and the level and type of violence used by a perpetrator to control, coerce and intimidate can escalate quickly.

“If employers pay attention to warning signs and know how to respond and who to refer people to for specialist support in their local community, they can help prevent serious harm.’’

Sam said victims were often particularly vulnerable at work because the perpetrator knew where and when to find them.

How to recognise an employee is at risk

Changes in a person’s appearance, personality, habits, work performance and behaviour can be indicators of domestic and family violence. Common warning signs include:

  • Changes in appearance
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing for the season to conceal injuries
  • Regularly arriving late to work or taking sick leave
  • Decreased work productivity, concentration and performance
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Unusually anxious
  • Keeps to themselves and ceases usual interaction with colleagues
  • Sensitive about their private life
  • Appears afraid or anxious after receiving some phone calls and messages

“Once a workplace knows how and what to look out for, they are able to act,’’ Sam said.

“It’s important they are aware. Women in general are probably more aware of what’s going on for other women because of female intuition.

“Men can see those signs as well but they might not want to pry or don’t believe it’s their place to say anything. But it’s important they act on their instincts if they have immediate concerns about someone’s safety.’’

How Centacare supports staff and volunteers

Centacare is leading the way in supporting workers and volunteers at risk of domestic violence.

In what is believed to be a state-first for non-government organisations in South Australia, Centacare has gone one step further than the minimum domestic and family violence leave requirement in order to assist workers to stay safe.

Employees can now access at least 15 days domestic and family violence leave each year, including upto 10 days paid and a from five days unpaid leave.

The updated leave entitlements are outlined in the Domestic and Family Violence Workplace Policy and Procedure, which was endorsed on February 25, 2019.

The entitlements follow a Fair Work Commission decision on August 1, 2018, to update all industry and occupation awards to include a minimum five days unpaid domestic and family violence leave per year.

Centacare’s policy extends to developing an accountability framework for perpetrators, and safety planning for those at risk.

“Centacare acknowledges that a supportive place of employment constitutes an important pathway for men and women to reduce the effects of domestic and family violence,’’ said Director Dale West said.

“Employment is critical to women’s financial security. It can provide a pathway out of being trapped and isolated in violent and abusive relationships, and allows women to maintain, as far as possible, their home, safety and standard of living.’’

The policy applies to all workers, including those who are experiencing or who have experienced domestic and family violence, and those who perpetrate, and is inclusive of volunteers and students on placement.

Full-time, part-time and casual staff with no pre-qualifying employment period can access the leave.

Except that volunteers can’t access paid entitlements

Messages about respectful relationships are sticking with male secondary school students beyond the classroom, new research shows.

Flinders University evaluated primary prevention program the Power To End Violence Against Women (PTEVAW) and found it is not only starting but also sustaining conversations that challenge gender-based violence.

The program targets Year 10 students in metropolitan and regional schools, and teaches them how to recognise and stand up to disrespect of women in their lives.

Launched today, the report highlights ways the program is inspiring secondary students across South Australia to become positive bystanders, and the influence Port Adelaide Football Club players have on how they think and behave.

Asked a year after undertaking the program how it had influenced them personally, students stated key messages were taken seriously and were being put into practice each day.

For example, challenging low level behaviours by calling out sexist banter, and learning how and when to step in when they witness inappropriate behaviour.

One boy said he was unaware of what domestic violence was until he had participated in the program, the report states.

“What is quite powerful is the way the program challenges students to look at certain behaviours, such as street harassment or belittling and gendered language, and how this manifests in a mentality that contributes to a normalised continuum of disrespect and inequity,’’ said Research Fellow Dr Jonathon Louth.

“While we are not in a position to measure the extent to which the retention of key messages transitions into behaviour change over the long-term, the study reveals that there is an increase in awareness and there are early indicators of positive outcomes.

“As it stands, the program is vital for starting conversations and speaking across generations.’’

Delivered by Power Community Ltd facilitators, retired Port Adelaide great Russell Ebert and current players, the PTEVAW program’s focus is on healthy and unhealthy relationships, and developing skills to safely challenge harmful attitudes.

Research focus group participants made it clear that their engagement and retention of key messages was built on the involvement of role models. Meeting players and senior coaching staff at follow-up events, including leadership days, was equally important, they said.

Ebert captured the impact in the report stating: “Each time you see that face, each time you hear about the Port Adelaide Football Club you will resonate with the messages that were given on the day.’’

Dr Louth said the report showed how the use of sport and elite players can `cut through’ unhealthy biases and complicit silence: “As a social glue, football clubs and communities are only just starting to reimagine their contribution to the reproduction of values and attitudes that permit behaviours or encourage silence in the face of actual or inferred violence against women.’’

More than 4600 students have engaged with PTEVAW since it began in 2016. The program is delivered over two weeks, with two by two-hour sessions, and is run in partnership with Centacare Catholic Family Services and the State Government.

“For cultural change to occur, we need to raise an awareness of what people don’t know they don’t know,’’ said Pauline Connelly, Deputy Director, Centacare.

“This program has achieved that with the Year 10 students, and with awareness comes choices.’’

Report recommendations include:

  • Extend the program beyond the Year 10 cohort to create a whole-of-school approach
  • Involve girls but in such a way that rejects them taking responsibility for the actions of men or boys who perpetrate negative behaviours
  • Commit to longitudinal evaluation to track the impact of the program within each unique setting
  • Develop student leaders and allies to assist with delivering the program to their peers

For more information, please phone Elizabeth Rowe 8215 6761 or 0437 062 302.



Join us this Wednesday, May 2, in Elder Park at a candlelight vigil to remember all women and children who have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence.

​Events are being held across Australia this week in a mark of national remembrance.

The hour-long Adelaide vigil organised by the Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services of South Australia, will begin at the Elder Park rotunda, on the southern bank of the River Torrens, at 5.30pm.

Everyone can play a part in raising awareness of domestic violence and an understanding of warning signs of abuse to support women and children at risk.

As part of the Power to End Violence Against Women education program, Port Adelaide Football Club joined Centacare at last year’s vigil.


It’s the race that stops the nation in a flutter of fashion, form guides, foreign raiders and famous faces but, behind closed doors, the Melbourne Cup is one of the darkest days of the year, writes Director Dale West.


Horses aside, there is one sure thing tomorrow – domestic violence will soar.

Alcohol and gambling coupled with the use of power, coercion and control over another create a perfect storm for abuse on the first Tuesday in November, most often by a male perpetrator.

The result can be sickening.

Research shows emergency department admissions, police recorded assaults and family incidents are elevated on Cup day.

In response, South Australian support services are preparing for a spike in demand for outreach, emergency accommodation and crisis help, as the impact of race day celebrations hits home.

The problem is not the Melbourne Cup itself – we should be able to enjoy the Spring Carnival without hurting our partner and kids. Rather, it is the cumulative effect of noxious gender attitudes, alcohol and gambling.

For a big problem, the link between gambling and violence remains largely unknown.

In the past decade, studies have found family members of a problem gambler are likely to experience violence and that this can impact the broader family: parents, parents-in-law, children, siblings.

In acts of desperation, family members may turn to violence themselves – sometimes against their partner, and other times, against children – to try and change the situation.

Centacare is currently working with Government and other non-Government organisations to develop practice frameworks for problem gambling and domestic violence.

While we recognise that these two problems are not always interrelated, many households receive support for both. However, service providers may not always be aware of one other or cross-refer clients.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) recently announced it would fund new research into the impact of gambling on domestic violence.

The study is one of three ANROWS projects to address key gaps in current evidence on the experience of domestic abuse, and the prevention and response to violence against women.

Key research questions include how problem gambling might contribute to domestic violence towards women – when it is linked to his gambling or her own habit – and the use of economic abuse to sustain the perpetrator’s gambling.

Hundreds of millions will be bet on the Melbourne Cup as once-a-year punters join regular gamblers for their annual wager on the iconic event.

Who wins, who loses and how that affects individuals and the choices they make will mean many families are fearful of what tomorrow may bring.

Living under the threat of violence day-in and day-out is debilitating.

As the euphoria of the world’s richest two-mile race dies down, spare a thought for those who will lose more than money – their lives are threatened regardless of who’s first past the post.

Dale West is Director of Centacare Catholic Family Services.

The Melbourne Cup is anything but a celebration for women and children in vulnerable homes.

Centacare’s Vicki Lachlan says there is a significant rise in domestic violence on the first Tuesday in November, with alcohol and gambling creating a perfect storm for abuse – most commonly by a male perpetrator.

“If the money is gone after a day at the races or a Cup event, then that can have a big impact on the family,’’ said Vicki, Manager, Domestic Violence and Homelessness Services.

“It’s not only the loss of income, but there’s potential for behaviours and moods that put women and children at risk when he comes home.

“He won’t blame himself for losing on the races, he’ll blame the woman.’’

Research shows emergency department admissions, police recorded assaults and family incidents are elevated on Cup day.

In response, local support services are preparing for a spike in demand for outreach, emergency accommodation and crisis help, as the impact of race day celebrations hits home.

Vicki said the glamour of the Spring Carnival hid a dark side of problem gambling and increased accessibility to multiple betting platforms, via the internet, telephone and face-to-face formats.

“It’s like everything in today’s society – betting platforms are easier to access so you can also lose money quicker.

“There will be a lot of women feeling apprehensive about Tuesday.’’

The Cup is among a number of dates on the nation’s social calendar that put vulnerable women at a heightened risk of abuse.

Christmas and New Year also take a heavy toll on families in which perpetrators exercise power and control over their partner and children, Vicki said.

This year more hundreds of millions will be bet on the Melbourne Cup as once-a-year punters join regular gamblers for their annual flutter on the iconic event.

Centacare is currently involved in work with Government and other non-Government organisations regarding the development of practice frameworks for problem gambling and domestic violence.

This work has stemmed from national research recognising a link between domestic violence and gambling, and that both problems exist in many families.

“Centacare is pleased to be looking at how services might better respond when there is problem gambling and domestic violence, and while we recognise that gambling and domestic violence are not always interrelated, a lot of families see services for both issues but those services don’t always know about each other or how to cross-refer,’’ Vicki said.

“That’s what we are working to address.’’

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) recently announced it would fund new research into the impact of gambling on domestic violence.

The study is one of three ANROWS projects to address key gaps in current evidence on the experience of violence, and the prevention and response to violence against women.

Key research questions include how problem gambling might contribute to domestic violence towards women – when it is linked to his gambling or her own habit – and the use of economic abuse to sustain the perpetrator’s gambling.

New research released last month by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) found nearly one million Australians regularly gamble on horse and dog racing, with about 41 per cent experiencing one or more gambling-related problems such as relationship issues, financial pressures and health problems.

The AGRC analysed data collected through the 2015 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey.

In the lead-up to Cup day, AGRC Researcher Dr Andrew Armstrong said “regular bettors should consider their financial position carefully and seek help if they are concerned they are at risk of gambling-related problems.’’

This year we welcome Port Adelaide Football Club defender Jasper Pittard to the Power to End Violence Against Women campaign.

Jasper joins Travis Boak, Ollie Wines, Hamish Hartlett, Matt White and Gavin Wanganeen as a Program Ambassador.

PTEVAW - Jasper & Russell

In his role, Jasper will visit schools with club legend Russell Ebert to talk to male students in Year 10 about respectful relationships with women.

We are grateful for the invaluable support of players as we continue our partnership with Power Community Ltd.

This term the #PEVAW program has engaged 305 students across four schools, including Norwood Morialta High School.

Students learn about respect, trust, gender equality, healthy relationships and the dangers of abusive behaviour, and how to make informed choices.

Launched in late 2015 with the help of the State Government, the program will be funded by Centacare until 2019 in order to reach more male students across the state.

For more information about the PEVAW program, please phone Ross Wait 8447 9965.

Centacare’s domestic violence services are taking part in a forum today to examine the development of targeted perpetrator interventions in South Australia.

If women and their children are to be safe, perpetrators should be held to account through effective interventions that stop their violence.

The forum, organised by the Office for Women, is part of the implementation in SA of the National Outcome Standards for Perpetrator Interventions (NOSPI), endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in late 2015.

The standards will guide and measure the outcomes achieved by perpetrator interventions across the nation.

Identifying shortfalls in the SA system around responses to men’s violence against women is one focus of today’s meeting.

It will also explore ways to develop a framework for the best model of interventions for perpetrators, supported by evidence and best practice.

“Just because a perpetrator goes to an intervention program doesn’t necessarily mean his behaviour changes,’’ said Desi Alexandridis, Senior Manager, Domestic Violence & Homelessness Services.

“From our perspective, it’s really important that perpetrator interventions are conducted in conjunction with women’s services.

“If the victim’s experience is not part of that intervention, then how are we actually going to keep him accountable?’’



Meeting the Challenge

Centacare Catholic Family Services is a Catholic welfare organisation delivering a range of services across the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide.

Client Services

45 Wakefield Street Adelaide SA 5000
T 08 8215 6700
E enquiries@centacare.org.au

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