Call Me Dad - Can a violent man change? , News

Call Me Dad - Can a violent man change?

Premiere Broadcast, 26 November, 8.30pm ABC

Screen NSW talks to the producer of Call Me Dad, Madeleine Hetherton, about making this powerful documentary that takes its audience to the most delicate and painful place...


In your documentary, Call Me Dad, a group of fathers attempt to take responsibility for their violent behavior through a group counseling process, we usually see the aftermath of domestic violence played out on screens from a female victim's point of view, do you think viewers are ready for this side?

There is a great comment made by Mary Crooks at the Victorian Women’s Trust – basically that our solutions will only be as good as our analysis. If we only hear one side, that of the stories of the victims, then as important and critical is to hear these stories and give a voice to these women, we are still missing a vital part of the puzzle. This film is not about justifying the men’s violence, far from it. We feel strongly that perpetrators of violence need to recognise their behaviour and address it and be accountable. And so yes, I think that viewers are ready for seeing the full picture of domestic and family violence.


The men in the documentary are not good at dealing with emotions; yet you get them engage with you so openly, can you tell us about your filming process and how you worked in this tense environment?

There was a long process of finding first a service provider who would allow a documentary film team in to watch and then to find men who would also allow us to film them. There was a long process of negotiation, which really has continued not just in the lead up to the filming, but through the entire process.


How did you deal with your own emotions on a human-to-human level making Call Me Dad?

It was confronting to be with men who we knew have been, and possibly still are, violent. At the same time, it was reassuring to see them as humans wishing to change their behaviour and rescue their relationships with their partners and children.


After making this documentary, do you feel that more needs to be done in terms of offender rehabilitation to address the domestic violence epidemic?

More needs to be done in every aspect of domestic and family violence! There have been substantial cuts to service provision, which have had devastating effects – particularly on services for women and children seeking shelter. Of course we also believe that prevention is an essential part of the whole approach to solving family and domestic violence. There is great unmet capacity to offer behavioural change programs to men, there are long waiting lists and many men never get a chance to attend, so increasing the number of programs offered is important.


Have your views on men’s capacity to change their behaviour altered since making Call Me Dad?

I think I always thought that humans, given the right conditions and motivations, could change. Having made the documentary has made me more aware of the difficulty of this, but also some hope that there are many skilled counsellors who can facilitate men’s change if these programs can be funded adequately and without reducing services to women and children.


Do you see an opportunity to follow up with the dads in the documentary to see if they made a change for the long term?

We are still in contact with the men in the program and our hope is that they will sustain and grow the positive changes in their behaviour in the long term. In terms of filming follow-up, we’ll see!


Can you tell us your plans for the documentary after its premiere on ABC broadcast on November 26th?

We have an extensive community and professional screening campaign in the works, which will launch 26th November 2015. Check us out on Facebook or on the website:

We have developed educational materials for community and professional use in training and awareness raising. You can register to host a screening here:

Or attend a screening of the feature version through Cinema on Demand here:

In the lead up to the broadcast we have four parliamentary screenings (NSW, Victoria, Qld and Federal Parliament) as well as support from major partners White Ribbon, NRL and others.

There are some key organizations people can reach out to for help as well.

National Phone Line - 1800 Respect

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