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 this way
Evidence informs us that violence against women and family violence is preventable. 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”. 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 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. 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.
Community of Practice, Primary Prevention in the G21 region – In partnership with Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West (WHWBSW) Together with WHWBSW, we are leading the establishment of a Community of Practice (CoP) for practitioners working in primary prevention of violence against women in the G21 region. The purpose of the CoP is to create a forum for:
- information sharing and professional development
- developing and building on a shared understanding of primary prevention
- creating partnership opportunities that maximise resources and coordinate efforts in primary prevention.
A sustainable CoP will guide the practice of primary prevention of violence against women and family violence well into the future.
Breaking the Binary – Reducing Family Violence against the LGBTIQA+ community
Breaking the Binary Code is a 12- month project in partnership with the City of Greater Geelong, Barwon Adolescent Task (BAT) Force and Creative Geelong funded by the Victorian State Government under its Free from Violence Strategy.
The project has a holistic approach to work with the LGBTIQA+ community, their families and young people who do not identify as LGBTIQA+ with the aim to keep the LGBTIQA+ community free from family violence.
The project will engage in activities including:
- Create a message of inclusive language on gender, sexuality and family violence.
- Develop a narrative resource for parents/carers in having conversations with young LGBTIQA+ people about their gender and sexuality that will support healthy, safe and respectful relationships free from violence.
- Deconstruct harmful society binary constructs of gender and sexuality through challenging images within social norms, stereotypes and media.
Bonnie Loft, Gender & Sexuality Project officer – 03 5222 4318 / [email protected]
Partnership, Equality and Prevention project with the City of Greater Geelong (the City) In July 2017 we delivered a 12-month project in partnership with the City, funded by the Victorian State Government under its Free from Violence strategy. The project involved working with the City to strengthen and expand its efforts in promoting gender equity and preventing family violence and all forms of violence against women and their children. Taking a “whole of organisation” approach, we were engaged in activities including:
- collaborating with the City to present Geelong’s inaugural, fully subscribed, Gender Equity in the Workplace Forum in February 2018
- delivering gender equity training for the City’s workforce
- development of gender equity practices as part of the City’s “business as usual” approach
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
The Training and Gender Equity 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.
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
- Council of Australian Governments’ National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children 2010–2022
- Victorian Government’s Royal Commission into Family Violence Report and Recommendations
- Victorian Government’s Free from Violence: Victoria’s strategy to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women
- Victorian Government’s Safe and Strong: A Gender Equality Strategy
- Municipal Association of Victoria’s Local Government Preventing Violence against Women Network
- Victorian Department of Education and Training’s Respectful Relationships Education
- Putting the Prevention of Violence against Women into Practice: How to Change the Story by Our Watch
- Violence against Women in Australia. An Overview of Research and Approaches to Primary Prevention by VicHealth
- (En)countering Resistance. Strategies to Respond to Resistance to Gender Equality Initiatives by VicHealth
- Equal Footing Toolkit by VicHealth
- Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence in Australia, 2018 report by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s report
- Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network’s Data Report 2018
- Respectful Relationships Education Toolkit by Our Watch
- The business case for gender equality by Workplace Gender Equality Agency
- Domestic Violence Resource Centre
- The Lookout
- Our Watch
- Workplace Gender Equality Agency
Let’s change the story: Violence against women in Australia (Our Watch)