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Primary Prevention

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Primary prevention of violence against women and family violence

Working together to tackle gender inequality

Violence against women and family violence in Australia is prevalent, serious and an abuse of human rights. The impact on individuals, families and communities is devastating and the broader social and economic costs are staggering.

But it doesn’t have to be this way

Evidence informs us that violence against women and family violence is preventable[2]. We all need to work together in our homes, workplaces, schools and social groups to address its main driver – gender inequality. We do this by:

  • challenging the condoning of violence against women
  • challenging harmful gender stereotypes and roles
  • promoting women’s independence and decision-making
  • strengthening positive, equal relationships based on respect.

Together, we can build a future where women and their children live free from violence and all women are respected, valued and included. As every person, community, and setting is different, so are primary prevention techniques and initiatives. Primary prevention efforts will be most effective, when they are consistently mutually reinforced, across a range of settings.

Our approach to primary prevention

Our organisation is deeply committed to the primary prevention of violence against women and family violence. We endorse a public health approach of working across the population at the community, organisational, systemic, institutional and societal levels to challenge the gendered norms, practices and structures that drive and support this violence. Our practices are evidence-based and align with government frameworks and reform. We understand that gender inequality cannot be separated from other forms of inequality and we must focus efforts on the intersections between such inequalities. Accordingly, we take an intersectional approach informed by partnerships and initiatives that seek to challenge power, privilege and oppression that is reinforced by social systems and structures. This includes work to challenge forms of discrimination including homophobia and transphobia, racism, ableism, ageism and classism. As noted in an Our Watch paper, of analysis of existing research, “it is increasingly evident that gender inequality also functions as a driver of violence against people within lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities, albeit with a slightly more nuanced focus. Binary sex categorisations and rigid adherence to binary gender roles and stereotypes significantly impacts on how LGBTIQ people are treated – both structurally and individually”[3]. We engage in systematic evaluation of the activities, outputs and impacts of our projects to continually improve our practice, inform future work and contribute to the evidence base of primary prevention.

Our primary prevention services

We have worked successfully in primary prevention of violence against women and family violence since 2011. This work includes a focus on educational institutions and workplaces as key settings of change as they have significant reach and influence within our communities. We have partnered with several Geelong secondary schools[4] in their capacity as educational institutions to deliver the Sexual Assault Prevention Programs for Secondary Schools (SAPPSS). This involves working with staff and students to take a “whole school approach” to reduce the incidence of sexual assault among young people and support schools to respond to sexual violence and disclosures. We continue to build our practice of partnering with workplaces to promote gender equality. Evidence informs us that the business case for this work is strong. Achieving gender equality is linked to improved national productivity and economic growth, increased organisational performance, enhanced capacity of organisations to attract and retain talented employees and enhanced organisational reputation.[5] Currently we are:

  • working with organisations to embed gender equity practices in their workplace
  • collaborating to lead a Community of Practice for primary prevention practitioners that will deepen and expand knowledge and improve service delivery
  • collaborating to coordinate forums for community groups and organisations to learn about evidence-based primary prevention practice
  • contributing to the primary prevention evidence base and social policy frameworks through participation in expert advisory committees and working groups.

See below under Our projects for more detail.

Our projects

Please visit our Primary Prevention Projects page for more details.

Participation in expert advisory committees and working groups

Advisory committees and working groups We are constantly working to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of our work, and to draw on and contribute to the evidence base of our practice. Our organisation is represented on the following state-wide expert advisory committees and working groups: Ministerial Taskforce for the Prevention of Family Violence and other forms of Violence Against Women Respectful Relationships Expert Advisory Group convened by the Department of Education and Training

Our Team

The Primary Prevention Team is responsible for developing and implementing initiatives for the primary prevention of violence against women and family violence. If you’d like to get in touch, please contact our team on (03) 5222 4318 or [email protected]

Reform, strategy and resources

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in policy activity with federal and state/territory governments and research to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women and family violence. Below is a list of key resources to support you in your primary prevention work that we will continue to update. Key framework for primary prevention Change the Story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia by Our Watch, ANROWS and VicHealth Government strategy and activity



Let’s change the story: Violence against women in Australia (Our Watch)

The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of the land we stand on. We are committed to working toward creating a community where all people indigenous and non-indigenous are safe, connected and empowered to live well. The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre recognises the diverse needs of our community and we ensure our services are inclusive of all children, young people and their families including those who are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, those who identify as LGBTIQ and persons living with disability. We work collaboratively with people and partner organisations who also support our diverse client group. Interpreter and translator services are available to all our clients upon request.

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