On 28 August, we marked Social Justice Sunday, an opportunity to reflect on what Catholic Social Teaching refers to as the ‘preferential option for the poor’—the idea that within the task of Christian charity there is a special and primary place for the poor, for those among us who experience destitution, poverty and misery.

In this year’s Social Justice Statement, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) devoted their attention to a significant and pressing social issue, condemning the evil of domestic and family violence. Titled Respect: Confronting Violence and Abuse, the statement draws on the voices of abuse victims crying out to be heard, and seeks to bring the light of the Gospel into this awful reality.

In his 2022 Patrick Oration, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli reflected on the simple ‘domesticity’ of God’s hopes for his people, identifying the family as a place where faith should be ‘nurtured and passed on from old to young’, and households as a place to receive ‘the encouragement of a fresh heart’.

Seen in the light of God’s heart and hopes for the family, the persistence of domestic violence in our society takes on an especially tragic light.

As the Archbishop pointed out, maybe our task today—like that of the early Church—rests with the household and with the formation of families:

For better or worse, in good times and bad, whether whole or broken, strong or vulnerable, we each come to be from a family, and we each live out the project of our lives within a family. No-one is an island; and any social theory that attempts to reconstruct human flourishing separated from its family roots is devoid of goodness.

In our own time, then, the cultivation of families that are centred around the Gospel is a special and urgent task.

This requires of course that we listen attentively to the cries of those suffering in abusive relationships and reach out to aid them. It also requires that we provide the formative contexts in which men and women can recognise and confess their brokenness, discover both the greatness and humility of their calling in Christ, and learn how to live out their marriages and relationships in ways that reflect the equal dignity of men and women.

Within the Archdiocese of Melbourne, there are places for victims of domestic violence to find refuge and support—an important outreach to those in most need. Beyond the responses offered in the midst of crisis, it is also important that in the Archdiocese we provide opportunities to find fellowship, prayer and support, as people seek healing and nourishment in supportive communities, and to live lives of authentic, compassionate Christian discipleship.

A few of these ministries and opportunities are featured below.

Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV)

CSSV is the peak body for Catholic social services across the state of Victoria, working with more than 40 members organisations to help the Catholic community stand with the poor and disadvantaged. Several of their member organisations deal directly with issues of family and domestic violence. Ever since the 2016 Royal Commission, understanding the drivers of violence within the home has been a special priority.

The Good Samaritan Inn specialises in this area, providing crisis accommodation for women and children who are experiencing family violence and homelessness. Every year they provide support for more than 500 people, offering companionship and opportunities for rehabilitation.

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand is one of Australia’s oldest charities focussing on this issue. Providing support for women and girls, they specialise in the area of economic abuse.

Wellsprings for Women is another organisation that seeks to provide training, support and employment for women so that they can live free of violence. Among their highly rated programs is their Mental Health First Aid training program.

McAuley Community Services for Women provides the full range of help for those suffering in situations of family and domestic violence. As well as providing crisis accommodation and employment support, they also offer programs for children, recognising that a child’s pain and trauma require a different, more specialised response.


MenALIVE started in 2003 in Brisbane as a ministry for men. It’s not a group as such; it doesn’t ask anyone to join. Instead it reaches out to men in parishes in the hopes of ‘waking the sleeping giant’—the large number of men whose baptismal calling has yet to be taken up with intention and passion. MenALIVE seeks to inspire men to embrace fulness of life, to become active within the Church, and to be all God created them to be, including in their relationships.

One of their major ministries is a parish men’s weekend, run by a team of experienced menALIVE leaders. These weekends are an opportunity for men to experience fellowship, reflect on what God wants of them, and be encouraged with a new sense of purpose and mission.

In Victoria, there are a few weekends coming up. These are open to men 18 years and over.

Made for Greatness

Made for Greatness is a monthly opportunity for men to pray and find fellowship together through Eucharist Adoration, followed by some social time. Led by Matthew MacDonald, a Catholic counsellor and psychotherapist, in conjunction with the Emmanuel Community, Made for Greatness puts Adoration at the centre of its gatherings, allowing men to enter into silence and prayer, opening themselves to the presence and transforming power of Jesus Christ as they seek to live their calling as men.

This ministry began in 2020 and is currently hosted at St Roch’s Parish in Glen Iris on the second Friday of the month. For more information, contact emmanuelcommunitymel@gmail.com.

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement and associated resources can be found at www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au.