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Anger management and violence prevention: improving effectiveness

Media Release

26 June 2002

26 June 2002

Maintenance of anger programs; needs-based programming; sufficient program length and ability to accommodate individual needs are all necessary elements for effective anger management in the correctional setting. Ongoing program evaluation and maintenance of program integrity are also important factors.

These are the key findings from a paper released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology.

"Despite the renewal of interest in offender rehabilitation and the increased rehabilitation and increased optimism about programs attempting to prevent re-offending, violent offenders, such as those in this study, are rarely the focus for intervention", said Dr Adam Graycar, AIC Director when releasing the paper. "This study has partly filled this gap by evaluating the effectiveness of anger management programs for violent offenders in two Australian jurisdictions", he said.

Based on an assessment of 200 male offenders (mainly prisoners) in South Australia and Western Australia, this study demonstrates that the overall impact of anger management interventions was small. While the treated group consistently made changes in the expected direction, the changes were not large enough to be of clinical significance.

The paper also examines the participant characteristics associated with treatment gains in anger management programs and supports the notion that individual differences are important. The extent of improvement of an individual undertaking the programs was largely predictable based on the following factors: level of anger control; motivation to succeed; program integrity; and the complexity of an individual's problem. There were no differences in outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders in this study.

Copies of the report by Kevin Howells, Andrew Day, Susan Bubner, Susan Jauncey, Paul Williamson, Ann Parker and Karen Heseltine can be downloaded from http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi227.html