Professional Testimonials

Separated men are frequently either ignored, or criticised when they behave inappropriately. Sometimes that inappropriate behaviour becomes extreme and people have been injured and even killed.

To date few organisations have taken the trouble to look closely at what men experience in separation, and question why they frequently cope poorly.

On this page, professionals working in the area comment on the benefit they see in the program. It provides some insight into the acute need men often have in this area, and what massive relief a well designed and executed program can bring.

Click here to see testimonials from men that have experienced the MENDS program first-hand.

Steve Biddulph - psychologist, family therapist & author (Manhood, Raising Boys and others)

"For over a decade it's been clear to professionals in family welfare that the problems of men after separation are significant, and badly neglected. While marriage is our most critical social building block, over a third of marriages end, and abundant research shows that the effect on men, and therefore on women and children, is especially damaging.

Separated men increase in their suicide risk sixfold over the already high figures for that gender. Compared with women, they are thirteen times more likely to take their lives in the two years following marriage breakup. Re-marriage is even more likely to be unsuccessful. It's a rough time, with the risk for violence, unhappiness, and therefore stress on children, poor health, and other risks all being magnified,

Yet some men and women separate well, continue to grow and thrive, and children are cared for and come out of the experience unharmed. What are they doing right, and how can this be shared to others?

The MENDS program is simply the most promising community health measure to come along in this whole field. It capitalises on men's liking for structure and information, and at the same time through peer support reduces the likelihood of men acting in impulsive, or counterproductive ways. By reducing fear, giving clear structure, and doing so in an educative, group based way, it taps into men's responsiveness to peer pressure to be sensible, reflective, and not give in to fear and panic - which in men usually turn into combative or violent impulses.

It integrates a range of community resources which already exist but are underused, and means that men are able to then take advantage in a rational and calm way, of the normal mediation, legal, and social resources around them.

The program elements range from self-care, parenting, legal information, self-awareness, breaking out of stereotyped roles, which are taught in a factual way men prefer, and yet have an underlying tone of emotional support and care which breaks the long tradition of men's emotional isolation. MENDS is well named, and well conceived, and capable of being replicated as a model in hundreds of centres around the country where it would find a ready demand and a vitally useful place."

Dr. George Burkitt - GP specialising in men's health and counselling, Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Past President NSW Men's Health & Wellbeing Association

"I have found that in the aftermath of separation, men may experience a vast array of new circumstances for which they are often poorly equipped. This integrated course is designed to meet the needs of the whole man, including relationships, child-rearing, legal, health & nutrition.

The well trained facilitators are men of integrity and compassion who have often successfully faced these issues in their own lives. The course is coming from the right place and acknowledges the healthy role that a community of men can have in supporting men in difficult times and creating a new paradigm for men."

Bettina Arndt - psychologist, social commentator & columnist for Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

"How you handle this devastating time in your life will determine your future, particularly that all-important relationship with your children. Don't try to struggle through on your own. Other men have the experience to help you. MENDS is a much needed resource for our community."





Peter Jordan - family counsellor, mediator & developer of FCA Report 10 - Men and Separation - 10 Years On

"My research (FCA Report 10) highlighted that men are significantly affected emotionally, physically, socially and financially at the time of a separation. It is at this time that men need positive, constructive and understanding help.

I see the MENDS program as meeting the needs of men at that very critical time following a separation. The value of the program is that it provides information and strategies in a friendly and accepting environment."

Grant Brecht - psychologist, author, Director of CORPsych and President of EAPAA

"The MENDS initiative is a most valuable and long overdue contribution to the mental well being and emotional health for a group of potentially vulnerable and unsupported men.

The programs within this initiative will provide education, support and options for men who may otherwise turn to very maladaptive means of coping. The women and children who have relationships with these men will also benefit greatly.

I congratulate all involved in this initiative and see it as a necessary community and social support strategy which hopefully will receive wide ranging support and funding from government bodies, workplaces and the general community."

Helen McKeering - researcher*, psychologist and teacher

"While researching separated men's health and parenting concerns, I was fortunate to meet Owen Pershouse of MENDS Brisbane . To date, approximately 25% of the men participating in my study are MENDS graduates.

Although I have yet to analyse the data, my general impression of the MENDS graduates is their more positive outlook on life despite some desperate child access and health issues; their awareness of "the journey", of a healing taking place; their support for one another; their respect for Owen; their strong belief in the value of the MENDS program for themselves; and their conviction that other separated men be made aware of the program. The strengths of the course appear to be the practical, structured approach, whilst imbuing the men with an ability to articulate their concerns with balance, self-awareness, and emotional expression.

Reflecting on the needs of some of the men and boys I have met in my previous occupations as a teacher in a Christian Brothers boys' school, and as a construction administrator; and my present occupations, including that of parent to a 16 year old boy; I am buoyed by the growth of organizations and programs, such as MENDS."

* conducting Honours research into father's involvement into child care activities at The Centre for Public Health Research at QUT, Brisbane.

Jeannie Harriden - program developer, instructor & advisor

"MENDS is an unusual and positive program which has the potential to benefit not just the men who complete it, but the women and children with whom they are connected. The concept - a structured course which provides information and practical guidance about legal, emotional and financial issues for separated men - is long overdue. The fact that it is designed and presented by caring, committed and competent men with clearly enunciated values is a real bonus.What makes me an authority on these matters? Well, nothing really, except that I am a woman who has worked in educational and therapy programs with male prison inmates for over four years and, since then, in the strongly male atmosphere of the Queensland Police Service for about the same length of time. I recognise that men experience the same feelings of loss, failure, confusion and, sometimes, despair, that women describe when their relationships break down.

In my experience, women in crisis will seek solace, aid and counsel both within their personal networks and from professional sources; men often tend to try to "handle it" alone. The long-term effects of this can be harmful to all parties, especially the men themselves. The MENDS program helps men focus on issues that matter to them and to realise that they're not alone in their plight.The program enables participants to deal with the personal stresses of separation, shares knowledge and understanding of men's legal rights, in the Family Court and demystifies both the Court and the Child Support Agency. It also tackles the tough issues of children's ideas and fears about the changing circumstances of their family. In fact, one of MENDS' key objectives is to help men maintain strong, loving bonds with their children both during the separation process and for years after.A program like MENDS has been needed for a long time. Women will realise the benefit to themselves and their children of a course that enables men to steer through difficult and turbulent emotional times, beyond self-pity, to new depths of inner strength and emotional competence. They will endorse the program's commitment to mature acceptance of responsibility, expressed through its encouragement of men to seek insights into their feelings and actions. Men will be relieved and delighted to regain their former sense of having control over their own lives."

Michael Green - QC & author of Fathers After Divorce

"I consider that MENDS is the most positive and valuable programme for separated men that I know."





Steve Carroll - health worker & psychotherapist, Past President NSW Men's Health and Wellbeing Association

"I have worked in prisons. Many of the men in gaol are there because they have committed crimes out of desperation. Some of these men had relationships that had broken down for one reason or another, and they became more and more unable to think straight; their world had crumbled.

They started to drink to excess or take other drugs or they became violent with their ex-partner or others, broke the condition of their AVO, refused to pay child support or "kidnapped" their child or a hundred other ways that these men use to cope with their distress.

If, at the time of the relationship ending, a group of men are available to help with this crisis, the outcome may be different. If this group is able to show better options for these men, perhaps I would not have to meet so many in prison.

Such a group is MENDS."

Michelle Lowy - family lawyer

"My involvement with MENDS has highlighted the immense benefits of a strong support network for men going through the divorce process. MENDS provides a structured forum within which men are encouraged to openly share and discuss the emotional, psychological, legal and physical consequences of divorce and associated proceedings.

As a family lawyer, I often see matters aggravated by a lack of understanding on the part of either or both parties, of themselves and of the legal system, and by an inability to explore and challenge these misconceptions.

The MENDS programme gives men a chance to clarify their thoughts and opinions in a supportive and informative way, with the help of the course coordinators and other professionals, such as lawyers. I believe that the programme provides a useful framework within which men can identity, and deal with, the complex issues raised by divorce."

Sally Griffin - family lawyer & CSA review officer

"When I first saw a small "ad" for MENDS in a local paper I thought, what a great idea.

I've been around the family law game, as a legal practitioner, for more than 15 years (perhaps too long). I've seen and been part of the advent of many appropriate issues for women being brought to the consciousness of the public and political mind.

Alas, however, little had I heard of the trumpet "sounding" for men. Had the male story not been heard?

I wanted to be involved.

I hear men's stories every week, both as a family lawyer, but more as a practitioner hearing child support appeals. What is happening to the voices of the bread-winning male who is facing the imposition of a system before which he can feel so powerless and isolated. MENDS was responding.

My experience as a guest-presenter for the Legal Issues session in two groups has, I believe, been mutually beneficial. My intent was to say "Hey, you're not forgotten" and "there may be a better way of playing your cards within the legal world" .

However, what I took away with me was inspiration. Here was a group of men that could come out of the "separation crisis" facing probably the most vulnerable parts of themselves and actual find a meaningful way of coming to terms with it. This step, to a positive sense of well-being, I found to be more than encouraging; I found it be a real and tangible step towards the evolution of a more loving community - both for men and women - and isn't that what we all want??

So yes, I am great advocate of MENDS!"

Michael McMahon - counsellor (formerly with FCA) and MENDS facilitator

"Working as a Family Court Counsellor for ten (10) years put me in professional contact with thousands of men going through separation. I was struck by the number of men who were both unprepared and totally devastated by their loss of partner and (in most cases), their children. At a time when many men were most vulnerable, they often lacked not only a personal, emotionally-supportive network, but also had no access to community-funded services for men - they simply were non-existent.The MENDS program evolved in response to such needs. It is a wholistic response, which addresses the needs of separated men on the wide variety of levels involved - cognitive, emotional, social, legal and health. The MENDS program incorporates a powerful combination of focused presentations and group-based informal sessions which are geared to respond to individual concerns. MENDS is an extremely positive course which encourages participants to take an active role in the healing of their separation wounds. It achieves this by creating a 'safe place' in which men can draw strength from other men in an open, accepting environment.As a man who has survived separation and as a professional who has assisted many men in their post-separation healing journey, I strongly recommend the MENDS program."

Paul Lewis - solicitor and mediator - Thorntons - Sydney

"The MENDS program has established itself as a credible and enlightened alternative to traditional counselling offerings for men. It is enriched by the values of compassion, self-awareness and self-responsibility, communicated within a professionally run and supportive environment.

With best wishes to MENDS and to all who grow with it!"

©2010 MENDS