This chapter will examine the use of primary prevention strategies to
address violence against women, the development of the current strategies and
key initiatives in this area by the Commonwealth, jurisdictions and
non-government organisations. It will also cover the development of a
prevention framework to improve the coordination and dissemination of primary
Public health approach
The public health approach is an important influence on policy making in
the area of domestic and family violence. The Australian Women's Health Network
outlined the public health model:
Public Health has been defined as an organised response to
the protection and promotion of human health...It is concerned with the health of
entire populations, which may be a local neighbourhood or an entire country.
Public health programs are delivered through education, promoting health
lifestyles, and disease and injury prevention. This is in contrast to the
medical approach to health which focuses on treating individuals after they
become sick or injured.
Domestic Violence Victoria outlined the public health model approach to domestic
and family violence:
The public health approach tells us that violence against
women – including family violence – rather than being the result of any single
or individual factor is the outcome of multiple determinants that all reflect
persistent discrimination against women including:
- Gender roles and relations
- Social norms and practices relating to violence against
women and exposure to violence
- Access to resources and systems of support.
The need to address social and cultural attitudes and behaviours in the
general community in relation to domestic and family violence was highlighted
to the committee as the key to long term change in this area. Ms Chrystina
Stanford, Chief Executive Officer, Canberra Rape Crisis Centre emphasised:
I think that we need to recognise that the reason this issue
hasn't been solved is because it is a very complex one that is reflected in our
broader societal structures.
SunnyKids stressed the need for prevention strategies to embed long-term
By focussing on periods of crisis (as opposed to lifelong
support and education) such as providing support and intervention post event we
fail to 'turn off the tap'. These services are essential and critical, however
they must run in parallel with lifelong prevention and education strategies
that focus on 'breaking the intergenerational cycle'.
Ms Mirjana Wilson, Executive Director, Domestic Violence Crisis Service,
also indicated that work needs to continue at a societal level to achieve real
Focus on primary prevention
A key aspect of the public health model is the focus on primary
which aims to stop or prevent the problem by addressing the underlying causes,
behaviours and attitudes in the general population.
Our Watch highlighted there is a difference between primary prevention
and other strategies such as early intervention to reduce the incidence and
effects of domestic and family violence:
[Primary prevention] approaches are distinct from responses
to domestic violence (e.g. crisis counselling, police protection and justice
responses, or men's behaviour change programs) and early intervention
activities (such as those working with 'at risk' young people or families) –
although it is essential that activity be coordinated and mutually-informed
across the spectrum from prevention to response.
The Australian Women's Health Network emphasised that primary prevention
is a long term approach to addressing cultural change:
Primary prevention is a public health approach that aims to
prevent violence from occurring in the first place. It is advocated as an
effective means of working towards the elimination of all forms of violence
against women. Primary prevention must focus on changing the culture/s that
operate to make gender based violence acceptable. This is sometimes referred to
as culture, or cultural change.
Primary prevention programs can include a range of activities,
including: public awareness campaigns to improve gender equity; programs
targeted at moderating factors that are linked to higher rates of domestic and
family violence, such as alcohol and drug abuse; and education programs to
change underlying social and cultural gender norms that may contribute to domestic
and family violence.
Other social and health areas where primary prevention measures have
been used successfully are acknowledged in the National Plan:
Primary prevention strategies have successfully reduced other
complex social or health problems such as drink-driving and smoking. But we
know that they are only effective when implemented through a coordinated
approach at all levels. The social practices and cultural values of broader
society shape how violence can occur at an individual level.
The need for a variety of prevention strategies
The importance of a variety of primary prevention strategies at different
levels to reduce domestic and family violence was emphasised in evidence to the
committee. Ms Irene Verins, Manager, Mental Wellbeing, Victorian Health
Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) told the committee:
[A]n effective approach to prevention requires a combination
of both universal and whole-of-population approaches, such as equality at work
and targeted interventions such as school programs and parental programs that
focus on priority population groups.
This need for action at multiple levels was also stressed to the
committee by Ms Sally Camilleri, Health Promotion Coordinator, Women's Health
We know that efforts to prevent violence against women
require action at multiple levels, including work with individuals, community,
organisational level and institutional and structural levels. For example,
respectful relationships education with school aged children and young people
is important work at the individual level.
Given the multiple factors which contribute to domestic and family
violence, Ms Sophie Hardefeldt, Program Manager, Australian Women Against
Violence Alliance spoke about the need to ensure messages cover the complexity
of the issue:
Further, primary prevention messaging must focus on gender
inequality and its intersection with other social inequalities...Both traditional
and social media are now reporting more on male violence against women and are
beginning to represent the issue accurately as a national disaster, yet we can
see from VicHealth's recent national community attitude's survey that
disturbing attitudes are still rife in our communities. This suggests that we
still have not got the messaging right. The focus remains on physical violence
or other stressors rather than the root causes of male violence against women.
Moving forward we must address the issue of gender inequality resulting from
patriarchal social relations if we are to effectively prevent this violence and
The Australian Women's Health Network also highlighted this issue in
their paper Health and the Primary Prevention of Violence Against Women,
Position Paper 2014:
To be defined as primary prevention the strategies must
challenge the attitudes and behaviours that are violence supportive whilst
changing the structural supports that maintain gender inequality. Education
programs, awareness raising and community mobilisation are all important, but
alone do not constitute primary prevention; a comprehensive, multi-level,
integrated approach is needed for primary prevention. Primary prevention should
actively address multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and
disadvantage that place women and girls at risk of violence.
Need to target prevention
The Australian Women's Health Network noted how primary prevention is
able to target specific groups:
Primary prevention programs can be carried out in 'settings',
or the places where people in communities live, work, play and age. A settings
approach makes it possible to target specific groups with appropriate programs
– in (among others) sports clubs, schools, workplaces and faith settings, as
well with specific population groups including children, young people, and
people with physical and intellectual disabilities, Indigenous and culturally
and linguistically diverse people.
Submissions noted the need for prevention strategies to be targeted for
particular groups at risk of violence. For example, the Australian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) stated:
Whilst violence can affect women regardless of their race,
cultural background, socioeconomic status or age, research suggests that particular
population groups are more at risk of violence, or more extreme forms of
violence. The diverse needs of these populations, including women with
disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, lesbian, gay,
bisexual, trans, intersex and queer women, and women from culturally and
linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, are often not adequately understood
as there is only a limited amount of academic and program research which
addresses the particular needs of these communities, particularly in a primary
The AHRC noted there was value in strengthening the capacity of ANROWs
to build the evidence base about domestic and family violence, particularly
about 'at risk population groups and primary prevention'. Its submission also
Ensuring targeted data is collected to inform primary
prevention, early intervention and response initiatives with at risk or hard to
reach population groups.
As mentioned previously, the Commonwealth Government has announced
$160,000 for the Diversity Data project (to be undertaken by ANROWS) that will
review how CALD women, women with a disability and Indigenous women experience
violence and examine options on how to improve information in future.
Dr Casta Tungaraza, Member, New and Emerging Policy Advisory Committee,
Federation of Ethnic Communities' Council of Australia explained the need to
make targeted information available to new and emerging communities:
...ethno-specific knowledge and understanding is crucial in the
development of appropriate strategies and lasting solutions aimed at addressing
this problem. Firstly, there are differing understandings and perceptions of
what domestic violence is for women from new and emerging communities. In many
communities, for instance, domestic violence is only associated with physical
assault and excludes other forms of abuse, such as verbal, emotional, financial
or sexual abuse. Moreover, the term domestic violence does not have an easy or
accurate translation in many languages...
Redfern Legal Centre drew out the importance of community education that
reaches vulnerable groups, particularly noting that:
Community education programs and public awareness initiatives
aimed at reducing domestic violence must target vulnerable groups such as CALD,
refugee and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This is
especially important for those groups who do not share the English language and
legal system. For example, the Family Law Council have commented that there is
a need for information about court processes and domestic violence laws in CALD
communities in Australia.
The committee notes that the need to better target prevention
initiatives for particular communities is recognised by the government and in
November 2013, the government announced $1 million for White Ribbon Australia
to work with CALD and Indigenous communities, including new and emerging
communities, as discussed below.
The role of the Commonwealth in primary prevention
The Commonwealth takes a lead role in developing, funding and
implementing primary prevention programs aimed at reducing violence towards
States and territories have primary responsibility for
policy, legislation and programs directed to addressing the prevalence and
effects of domestic violence. Nevertheless, the Federal Government has a
critical national leadership role in driving social, cultural and behavioural
Our Watch agreed that the Commonwealth should play a central role in
leading and coordinating primary prevention across all jurisdictions:
The Federal Government however has a crucial leadership role
to play in driving and coordinating collective, evidence-based approaches
across jurisdictions. For example, it can support design and delivery of
accredited training programs to build the capacity of the organisations and
workforces needed to implement prevention activity in different sectors;
develop best practice standards, tools and guidelines; and measure collective
progress against indicators of the factors known to contribute to violence. In
short, the activities of the Federal Government over the coming years should
articulate and establish a 'prevention architecture' that not only supports
prevention practice, but harnesses it in a coordinated effort that will achieve
whole-of-population change by 2022.
The New South Wales Government also agreed that the Commonwealth should
provide national leadership in primary prevention initiatives:
...through the development of the national prevention approach,
and in addressing the underlying causes of violence against women, such as
Redfern Legal Centre recommended that the Commonwealth Government
prioritise primary prevention initiatives to raise awareness of domestic and
family violence and change attitudes and behaviour over the long term:
Primary prevention through community education, public
awareness and other initiatives to change attitudes and behaviours should be
central to the Federal Government's efforts to prevent and address domestic
violence in Australia.
Primary prevention and the National Plan
A lack of investment in primary prevention was identified in the work
undertaken by the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their
children (the National Council) which presented its recommendations in a 2009
report Time for Action. This report concluded:
Past investments in communication campaigns about violence
against women have not been sustained or sufficiently aligned to ensure
coherency in messages to the community. Public campaigns are a critical partner
in any social change process and there is evidence that they work when they
focus on positive messages promoting cultural and behavioural change, rather
than focusing on victims as a means of encouraging them to access support.
The National Plan
The National Plan has a strong focus on preventing violence by raising
awareness and assisting young people to build respectful relationships:
The National Plan is unprecedented in the way it focuses on
preventing violence by raising awareness and building respectful relationships
in the next generation. The aim is to bring attitudinal and behavioural change
at the cultural, institutional and individual levels, with a particular focus
on young people.
The National Plan contains six national outcomes.
Primary prevention is noted as a key strategy to achieve national outcome 1
that 'Communities are free from violence'. However, prevention clearly also has
a place in relation to national outcomes 2 and 3 also.
The Progress Review of the First Action Plan noted that the measures of
success for outcomes 1, 2 and 3 were not expected to change greatly over the
course of the first plan as:
[T]hey are long term measures that, depending on success,
will change over the life of the National Plan. Baseline data has been
established for a number of the Measures of Success and data for comparison
will become available as the national plan progresses. The goal in the First
Action Plan was to set a platform of initiatives that will drive primary prevention
over the life of the National Plan. The focus has been on systemic and
strategic investments that build knowledge and establish infrastructure to
support long term change.
Examples of national primary prevention
A critical element of addressing domestic and family violence is
changing cultural and social norms that appear to support violence. This was
stressed by Mr Peter Bravos, Acting Assistant Commissioner, Crime and
Specialist Support Command, Northern Territory Police:
Real progress, however, will be made when the attitudes of
males towards women, and especially their attitude towards violence against
women, changes. This is where the biggest challenges lie and where the biggest
rewards can be reaped. As a community, we all need to be committed to
challenging the perceptions of many men...We as a community need to say: 'If you
demean or degrade women in any way, you're not a man; you're a thug. If you
assault a woman, you're not a man; you're a coward. If you engage in any form
of domestic or family violence, you're not a man; you're a criminal.'
Mr Bravos particularly noted the work of Mr Charlie King with the No
National initiatives are discussed below. Each state and territory has its own
primary prevention initiatives and a number of these are outlined in the first
and second action plans.
Our Watch (formerly the Foundation
to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children)
Our Watch was 'created to drive the broad-based attitudinal and
behavioural change required to achieve a future free from violence against
women and their children'.
Mr Paul Linossier, Chief Executive Officer, Our Watch, indicated:
Our vision is an Australia where women and their children
live free from all forms of violence and we describe our program of work in the
strategy as comprising four areas: sustaining a constructive public
conversation; developing innovative whole-of-population and community-level
attitudinal and behavioural change programs; supporting networks, communities
and organisations to develop effective local-level primary prevention
strategies; and influencing public policy and public institutions regarding the
future development of this work over time.
Mr Linossier told the committee that following its establishment in June
2013, national consultation was undertaken which revealed that 'if we are
effective as an organisation in terms of sustaining a public conversation, in
turn, as part of our primary prevention strategy, more women will have
confidence to take action to report violence, to disclose'.
The Line social marketing campaign
'The Line' is national social marketing campaign aimed at young people
and was established in 2010 as part of the primary prevention approach of the
First Action Plan. It aims to encourage young people aged between 12 and 20 to
discuss and debate what constitutes reasonable behaviour in relationships, and
thereby create long term changes in attitudes that encourage or enable violent
behaviour. A separate campaign aimed at Indigenous Youth 'the Line – Respect
Each Other', incorporates a strong community approach in encouraging and
promoting respectful relationships.
The May 2014 Progress Review of the First Action Plan found positive
outcomes for The Line including that:
87% of people who recognised the campaign claimed it has
improved their understanding of behaviour that could be 'crossing the line'
83% of people changed their behaviour as a result of the
88% of people intend to change their behaviour in the next
84% of 12 to 24 year olds intend to change their behaviour in
the next 6 months as a result of the campaign.
Starting in Australia in 2003, White Ribbon Australia is a male-led
primary prevention campaign to end men's violence against women. The campaign
works through primary prevention initiatives involving awareness raising and
education, and programs with youth, schools, workplaces and across the broader
Ms Libby Davies, Chief Executive Officer, White Ribbon Australia
explained the origin of the campaign in Australia to the committee:
It was brought to Australia by a group of men and women who
you would describe as very strong feminists. It has provided a strong and
well-recognised mechanism to education, involve and give men strategies and
tools that successfully involve men in that prevention of violence against
Ms Davies described how the campaign is funded:
The campaign is an expression
of corporate and community partnering that continues to gather momentum and
traction. This last financial year only 10 per cent of funding made available
to support this work came from government. The rest was raised by the community
and by corporate Australia.
White Ribbon runs the Breaking the Silence professional
development program for principals and teachers. The program 'supports them to
embed models of respectful relationships in school culture and classroom
Respectful relationships programs
The importance of working with young people to change attitudes was
highlighted to the committee. As noted by Ms Virginia Geddes, Executive Officer,
Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria:
One of the things is generally the evidence seems to be that
working in primary prevention work with young people is a key area. There has
been quite a lot of evidence to suggest that some of the work done on
respectful relationships programs around the world is effective. That would be
something, getting people's attitudes really early to build those respectful
relationships and to change ideas about gender.
The National Plan recognises the need to assist young people to develop
equal and respectful relationships. The May 2014 Progress Review of the First Action
A number of jurisdictions funded and delivered respectful
relationships projects in school and non-school based settings during the First
Action Plan. To supplement the work already underway in states and territories
and build the evidence base around good practice respectful education, the
Commonwealth funded three rounds of respectful relationships projects around
Second Action Plan
Under the Second Action Plan, National Priority One is 'Driving whole of
community action to prevent violence'. The plan notes the work undertaken since
the First Action Plan in this area:
The National Plan has a strong focus on preventing violence
by raising awareness, engaging the community and building respectful
relationships in the next generation. To date, significant work has been
undertaken to establish strong foundations that will drive primary prevention
over the life of the National Plan. This includes establishing the Foundation
to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children [Our Watch], delivering
and evaluating respectful relationships education and delivering The Line, an
innovative social marketing campaign aimed at changing young people's attitudes
and behaviours that contribute to violence. The Second Action Plan will harness
this work and take it to the next level.
The actions listed under this National Priority in the Second Action Plan
Support communities to prevent, respond to and speak out against
violence, through local government, business, community and sporting groups,
schools and key institutions.
Improve media engagement on violence against women and their
children, and the representation of women experiencing violence, at a national
and local level.
Take the next step to reduce violence against women and their
children by promoting gender equality across a range of spheres, including
women's economic independence and leadership.
Support young people through the Line campaign and by addressing
issues relating to the sexualisation of children.
Build on the findings of the respectful relationships evaluation,
to strengthen the design and delivery of respectful relationship programmes,
and implement them more broadly.
Incorporate respectful relationships education into the national
Enhance online safety for children and young people.
Progress with initiatives
In relation to The Line, the Second Action Plan notes:
Successful social marketing campaigns, including The Line,
have been able to support young people to change their attitudes and behaviours
that contribute to violence. The Commonwealth Government will extend funding of
The Line social marketing campaign until 2017 to ensure young people continue
to have a safe place to discuss and debate relationship issues and form their
own conclusions about what sort of behaviour crosses the line. To maximise the
effectiveness and engagement with young people at this stage in the campaign, [Our
Watch] will take responsibility for delivery and management of The Line from
July 2014. This will allow The Line to expand its reach to a broader audience,
foster innovation, and forge closer connections with other primary prevention
initiatives across the country.
The Multicultural Centre for Women's Health suggested that the
inclusivity and accessibility of The Line could be improved:
While there is written and audio information on this website
in 12 languages other than English, the main interactive and educational
features of the site are all in English. The 'MyLine' telephone counselling
line is in English only as is the recorded message which provides important safety
and confidentiality information to callers while they wait to connect. Waiting
time is significant (up to 30 minutes) and the call-back feature is explained
in English only, and is therefore not available to callers who have not yet
connected to an interpreter. It is not clear from the information available on
the website whether the interpreter is free of charge to the caller, which may
act as a disincentive to the caller.
The Multicultural Centre for Women's Health also suggested The Line
could include more information for young people from immigrant and refugee
There is no information on this website which approaches the
issue of violence against young women from a multicultural perspective, taking
into account issues like migration, diverse cultural backgrounds and racism,
which would be more appropriate for young people from immigrant and refugee communities.
The committee notes that the Second Action Plan indicates that The Line
will be expanded to include targeted resources for CALD young people and
Respectful relationships programs
Action 5 of the Second Action Plan is 'Strengthening respectful
relationships programmes'. It notes:
Schools and organisations deliver a range of respectful
relationships programmes in a number of different ways. Under the First Action
Plan, we explored and evaluated the effectiveness of different approaches to
respectful relationship education in school and non-school settings.
Under the Second Action Plan, governments will work together
to develop and test a suite of good practice tools and resources to strengthen
and support the delivery of high quality respectful relationships education in
schools, homes and communities. This will build on findings from the evaluation
of the First Action Plan's national Respectful Relationships programmes.
[Our Watch] is funded by the Victorian Government to
undertake a respectful Relationships in Schools project across selected areas
in regional and metropolitan Victoria. The project will be evaluated to
document best practice examples to be used across jurisdictions.
Action 6 of the Second Action Plan is 'Incorporating respectful
relationships education into the national curriculum':
Following endorsement of the Australian Curriculum: Health
and Physical Education by Education Ministers at the Standing Council for
School Education and Early Childhood, states and territories can commence
incorporating respectful relationships education into their local curricula and
syllabi, building on work already undertaken by states and territories in this
Suggested improvements in the area
of primary prevention
Our Watch suggested that the Second Action Plan provides the opportunity
to scale up more of the work, including prevention work:
While the National Plan has indeed 'built a strong foundation'
for the above [prevention of domestic violence], governments across Australia
are yet to meet the best practice in policy approaches recognised by
international evidence and agreements. This means that while relatively
small-scale prevention activity has been funded and shown results for
individual projects (and their participants), we are yet to bring such work to
scale and so begin to see results at the population level. The [Second Action
Plan] provides the opportunity for all governments to increase whole of
government policy commitment and investment in coordinated activity, workforce
and practice development, embedding and scaling up of good practice, data
collection and evaluation to achieve this aim.
Our Watch submitted that there were positive examples of primary
campaigns working well in targeted settings, including educational
institutions, workplaces and sports. Despite these positive signs, they argued:
...limited shared understandings of what constitutes effective
prevention continues to constrain the development of good practice nationwide.
More activity exists than is evaluated or fully documented, which presents challenges
for improvement and upscaling, with a particular dearth of evidence-based
practice on working with different population groups.
Most importantly, the social, cultural and behavioural change
required to prevent violence against women and their children cannot be
achieved 'project by project'.
The Australian Women's Health Network questioned the coordination of
Commonwealth and state and territory plans and whether there are effective
mechanisms to communicate learnings from prevention programs:
All states and territories are signatory to the Commonwealth
plan to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children, yet not all of the
individual plans align with the Commonwealth in terms of primary prevention.
There is a lack of transparency and clarity about how the different plans are
being implemented and progressing. The Commonwealth has funded a number of
community based programs since 2009 yet no effective knowledge transfer about the learnings that have come out of these
programs has taken place to inform practice.
The National Primary Prevention
The committee notes the development of a National Primary Prevention
Framework which is a priority action under the National Plan's Second Action
The framework is under development by Our Watch and will be launched mid to
The importance of this work was stressed by the Domestic Violence Resource
A national framework for the prevention of violence against
women is required to ensure a shared understanding of what is meant by primary
prevention and a common set of in the principles to guide the work.
Ms Irene Verins, Manager, Mental Wellbeing, VicHealth, also highlighted
the importance of the National Primary Prevention Framework:
This will be a valuable resource to coordinate activity
across jurisdictions and improve knowledge, skills and approaches to policy and
programming. We recommend that the Commonwealth government continue to support
the development of the framework and commit to being proactive in promoting it
to all jurisdictions.
Our Watch notes that the primary prevention framework will:
...bring together the international research, and nationwide
experience, on what works to prevent violence.
It will establish a shared understanding of the evidence and
principles of effective prevention, and present a way forward for a coordinated
The Framework will not prescribe specific actions. It will be
a guide to assist governments and other stakeholders to develop their own
appropriate policies, strategies and programs to prevent violence against women
and their children.
The need to ensure adequate funding for prevention measures
White Ribbon Australia highlighted the benefits of greater investment in
prevention, but cautioned:
...investment in prevention should not be at the expense of
other services, including crisis accommodation and legal services. The social
and economic benefits of greater investment in both primary and tertiary
responses to men's violence against women will outweigh the initial costs.
Women's Health In the North commented
in their submission that the lack of funding for response services also affects
primary health strategies:
The lack of funding for response services also impacts on
prevention work, as it is difficult to build the case for organisations to
implement primary prevention strategies when women and children's safety is at
risk. However, if we do not increase our efforts to prevent violence against
women before it occurs, the demand for response services will continue to
The funding challenge was also highlighted by the Australian Women's
One of these challenges is to maintain a focus on primary
prevention rather than be drawn into tertiary, secondary prevention. Because
tertiary work is more visible and tangible, funding bodies may try to combine
response and prevention in one program. The response sector has historically
struggled to provide safety and support for women who are victims of violence
and it is vital that resources should not be taken from these services, and
that they should not have to compete with for limited funding with the primary
Prevention initiatives may increase demand for services
Women's Health West, an organisation in Melbourne that delivers a range
of prevention and response services, indicated they had noticed a correlation
between primary prevention programs and an increase in reporting cases of domestic
and family violence:
[P]rimary prevention initiatives within communities result in
a spike in reported family violence and a corresponding demand for services as
women become more aware of their rights and of the support available. Current
data on increasing service demand clearly demonstrates that governments must be
prepared for the increase in demand for services that will initially accompany
successfully implemented primary prevention and early intervention initiatives.
This issue was also highlighted by Women's Health and Wellbeing Barwon
...investment in prevention needs to be supported by a
commensurate increase in crisis and case management to women and children
escaping family violence, noting that primary prevention efforts commonly lead
to a spike in reported family violence and service demand, at least in the
short to medium term.
Mr Paul Linossier, Our Watch, reported that as part of the national
consultation undertaken following their establishment, there was a recognition
from service providers that the work to raise public awareness would lift demand
on their services 'but nonetheless they encouraged us to continue, because it
was the only way that ending the issue, as opposed to responding to incidents of
violence, might be possible'.
The committee agrees that investment in primary prevention initiatives
is a key strategy over the long term to build awareness and bring about
attitudinal and behavioural change to reduce the incidence of domestic and
family violence. The committee notes this is a particular focus of the Second
Working with young people is important to embed long term societal change
and establish healthy relationships. The committee supports the respectful
relationships programs and supports the goal in the Second Action Plan to
incorporate respectful relationships into the national curriculum.
General public awareness campaigns are important for primary prevention as
are more targeted campaigns to address the needs of particular groups such as
new migrants, CALD, and Indigenous communities. The committee notes that the
Second Action Plan has a focus on working with Indigenous and CALD communities to
improve access to information and resources. The government has also announced
funding for White Ribbon Australia to work with Indigenous and CALD
communities, including new and emerging communities.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government consider
focusing on work that reinforces the value of school based education across all
age groups on respectful relationships and responses to domestic and family
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government, in light of
the strong evidence pointing to the crucial need to prioritise primary
prevention, take responsibility to lead and coordinate the delivery of these
The development of the National Primary Prevention Framework by Our
Watch will be a welcome step to improve national coordination and dissemination
of information in this important area and the committee looks forward to the
launch later in 2015.
While stakeholders acknowledge the possible increased pressure on services
that may result from an emphasis on prevention, there is also acknowledgment
that this needs to occur to effect long term change. The committee was
cautioned that while a focus on primary prevention is welcome, it may result in
more demand for services and governments need to ensure that there is an equal
commitment to provide sufficient resources to assist women who are being
encouraged to reach out early for information or help.
To this end the committee welcomes the recent announcement by COAG:
COAG agreed to jointly contribute $30 million for a national
campaign to reduce violence against women and their children and potentially
for associated increased services to support women seeking assistance. It noted
the importance of ensuring frontline services in all jurisdictions continue to
meet the needs of vulnerable women and children.
This campaign will build on efforts already underway by
states and territories. It will be based on extensive research, with a focus on
high-risk groups, including Indigenous women.
COAG will be assisted with this work by the COAG Advisory
Panel on Reducing Violence against Women, chaired by the former Victorian
Police Chief Commissioner, Mr Ken Lay APM, and with 2015 Australian of the
Year, Ms Rosie Batty as a founding member.
The committee notes that since this announcement, COAG has:
...welcomed and accepted the preliminary high-level advice of
its Advisory Panel on...areas for national leadership, including that the
national campaign, agreed by COAG in April, focus on galvanising the community
to change the attitudes of young people to violence.
The committee also notes that at its next meeting, COAG agreed to hear
advice on campaign messaging, possible programs in schools to reinforce the
campaign’s messages to young Australians and also to consider the Panel’s
advice that 'government should explore innovative ways to use technology to
keep women safe and prevent perpetrators from reoffending'.
In the 2015-16 Commonwealth Budget, the government announced it would
contribute $16.7 million over three years to fund this campaign, including $1.7
million for its administration and development.
While the campaign and funding is welcome, the committee notes the basis for
and adequacy of the $30 million is unclear. 
Another key message to the committee was that increased resources
directed towards primary prevention should not be at the expense of resources
for crisis or other services. However, an increased investment in the area of
primary prevention should eventually lessen the demand for crisis services
although the committee recognises that these results would be some years into
The committee recommends that governments ensure additional investment
in primary prevention initiatives does not result in a reduction of funding for
crisis services and that sufficient resources are available for any increased
demand for services following specific campaigns.
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