Reflections on Duluth

The Duluth conference was a very rare and special event, that left me with a number of questions concerning things I’d taken for granted about family violence service systems in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia. I knew that hearing six representatives talk who have been such important drivers of the Duluth response was going to be an opportunity I’d never get again but what I didn’t expect was what I learnt from understanding how Melissa, Laura, Lori, Scott, Graham and Shaun, and the agencies they represent, work together. Their coordinated community response appears to thrive without relying upon integration meetings, nor significant dedicated funding to support the response.

Through the generous insights that all shared into the world of the Duluth CCR, it struck me how ‘activist’ the proponents of the response have been. Duluth response leaders both do and don’t use law enforcement and criminal justice system levers in traditional ways. It’s not just about accountability through administering consequences, nor even just about giving perpetrators a clear and consistent message. It’s using these levers creatively to intensely understand and follow the victim-survivor’s lead, basing decisions and actions on what she and her children need. I was struck by how much ‘bottom up’ listening is involved, rather than top-down administering. Victim-survivor experiences drive the response … Duluth runs more focus groups with victim-survivors than corporations run focus groups to sell products.

The conference was a wonderful opportunity to understand how bottom-up community organising influences each link in the chain of the response – for example, how women’s advocates and police, and probation and perpetrator programs, work together. Judge Floerke’s presentations and workshops were highly insightful in showing what courts need so that they can be responsive to regular incoming information related to the safety of victim-survivors and accountability of perpetrators. Melissa (and all six delegates) was so clear on how victim advocates need to be at the hub of the response.

I was left positively unsettled, wondering how our reforms are ‘stacking up’ in relation to all that I’d heard.

Rodney Vlais




I want to congratulate Tracy and her team at Shanti Works on their initiative leadership in bringing the team from Duluth to Melbourne. It was a massive and ambitious undertaking that showed leadership and vision and involved sustained effort over months to achieve.

I participated in the Growing the Duluth Model, Accountability based Group Work with Perpetrators 2 day workshop with Melissa Scaia and Graham Barnes. Having first completed training in the approach in Duluth, Minnesota, over 10 years ago, it was exciting and inspiring to re-engage with the model, learn about the growth in their understanding and practice of working with men who use violence in their families.

I appreciated the priority on using dialogue with men about their beliefs that support and justify their use of violence – over rigid adherence to curriculum – and, just as critical, the encouragement to regularly examine and reflect on our beliefs rather than see ourselves as experts or “all sorted”.

I’ve heard some who work in this field refer to their programs as “post Duluth” but the “Duluth model” is no less relevant than it ever was.

Cheryl Munzel

Centre for Non-Violence; Ending violence against women and children




This was amazing training to attend – so fortunate to hear from this very informed group of individuals.

I really enjoyed my time at this training and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the model and challenge myself in my current work environment.

It would have been great to see more Police, housing workers, people who work in the court system and even General Practitioners attend the Conference, as I believe this training would have assisted in their day to day work as well. Hopefully there can be a future opportunity for these workers/workplaces.

Thank you for the amazing opportunity.

Lorilee Biro




Thank you ShantiWorks for bringing us the Duluth model conference. It is the second time we have attended it and again got so much out of it. While an enormous amount has been and continues to be achieved by the sector in Victoria, we are inspired by what has been achieved in Duluth by a committed group of people making a sustained effort into solving this most intractable problem – violence against women and their children. We are really interested in hearing from other agencies who attended the Duluth conference and who might be considering what can be done in their local area – anyone open to a community of practice?

Carol Vale and Mary Bartlett

McAuley Community Services for Women




The Duluth training brought to Victoria by ShantiWorks provides an unparalleled opportunity for practitioners to be able to learn and develop skills central to the work of prioritizing safety for women and children and perpetrator interventions. The Duluth model is world renown for being an approach to perpetrator accountability that is established, evidence based and clearly located within a feminist framework. It was with much gratitude to ShantiWorks I was able to attend the Perpetrator Intervention workshop. I acknowledge ShantiWorks has prioritized the facilitation of this opportunity in their tireless work towards gender equality and the elimination of violence against women. It was a wonderful opportunity, I learnt so much, reconnected and met more of  the amazing community of practitioners in the sector.

Thank you to Tracey and the talented and dedicated team at ShantiWorks!!

Lisa Levis

Centre for Non-Violence; Ending violence against women and children




Congratulations to the ShantiWorks team on the recent Duluth conference. It was such a valuable experience to hear directly from the ‘Duluth team’ and gain a greater understanding of the coordinated work to provide safety for women and children while making perpetrators truly accountable for their use of violence.  I particularly enjoyed the presentation from Judge Floerke who did highlight the importance of the Courts being informed and ensuring they are part of the response and accountability in Family Violence cases.  The Duluth model is inspiring and achievable with the commitment of both the Government and non-Government sector. Thank you ShantiWorks!

Janine Bussell

Centre Against Violence