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Doing Nothing Does Harm is aimed at all potential bystanders which means it’s for all Australians. We all see or hear disrespect towards women at some point in our lives, so we can all do something about it.

You can:

Our Watch undertook two phases (pre-formative and developmental) of qualitative and quantitative research to inform the development of the Doing Nothing Does Harm campaign.  

Pre-formative research, conducted in 2015, comprised qualitative focus groups (9) and an online survey sample of n=1204 Australians aged 16 years or older. This sample was representative of the Australian population. 
Developmental research, conducted in 2017, comprised qualitative focus groups (10) and quantitative research (an online survey of n=1059) of Australians 25-54 year old Australians with a focus on three of the bystander segments identified in the pre-formative research. 

Research was essential to ensuring Our Watch developed a campaign that has the best chance of empowering bystanders to do something about disrespect towards women and ultimately help prevent violence against women.

Disrespect towards women is a widespread problem in Australia. Change the Story, Australia's national framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children, shows that disrespect towards women is one of the underlying drivers of high levels of violence against women. 

For this reason, Change the Story makes it clear we can’t just focus on the violence itself. To prevent violence against women from occurring in the first place, we must change the bigger story that lies behind it. This means creating a culture where disrespect towards women is unacceptable. 

Read more about disrespect towards women or download the Doing Nothing Does Harm infographic below.


A bystander is anyone who sees or hears something happen but is not directly involved – that is, they’re not the disrespectful person or, in the case of disrespect towards women, the woman. In the context of the ‘Doing nothing does harm’ campaign, a bystander is someone who sees or hears disrespect towards women.

Read more about what disrespect towards women looks like. 

We’re encouraging bystanders to do something when you see or hear disrespect towards women.

There are heaps of ways to do something, from showing how you feel, to supporting women to speaking up to disrespectful people.

We can all play our part in making disrespect towards women unacceptable in Australia.

Yes! Research shows that bystander action is a key activity in challenging disrespect towards women as well as preventing violence against women. Bystanders can play a significant role in challenging the attitudes, social norms and behaviours that underpin and drive violence against women by creating a culture where disrespect towards women is unacceptable. 

By doing something, you:

  • Stick up for women

  • Do what's right 

  • Help the disrespectful person change their ways 

​Read more tips for how to have a positive impact when you do something.

Sometimes people won't react the way you want them to when you do something about disrespect towards women. But doing something won’t automatically make things worse; research shows that bystanders can play a significant and positive role. You’ll usually find that other people are not ok with the disrespectful person’s behaviour too.

Our suggestions for how to do something draw on research to help you be a bystander in a positive way.  

If you feel unsafe, you’re allowed to remove yourself from the situation.

We don’t ever recommend intervening with aggression, disrespect or violence. That will make things worse both for you and the woman being disrespected.

It’s ok if you do something but the disrespectful person doesn’t listen every single time. Even if they don’t listen, you’re still supporting women in the situation, telling others that it is OK to do something about disrespect towards women and you feel better because you did the right thing. 

The more times we all do something about disrespect towards women, the more we chip in to positively changing Australian culture. 

Remember, there are lots of actions you can take, so have a go at something different next time. Our extra tips may be helpful too. The most important thing is you did something!

We’ve all had an uncomfortable moment where someone in our family says something way off. 

Could drawing on your family values help? Things like ‘I've always thought our family was all about showing respect to everyone?’ Or if a joke is more your vibe, ‘where’d you pick up those ideas, weren’t we raised in the same house?!’

Got more family questions? Read these family tips.

The Doing Nothing Does Harm campaign is about doing something in response to disrespect towards women rather than violence, because Our Watch’s focus is preventing violence before it occurs. 

If you see violence, it's important to consider your own safety and the safety of others before you intervene. If intervening directly isn't safe, don’t ignore what’s going on. Call the police on Triple Zero (000). 

The Doing Nothing Does Harm campaign is about doing something in response to disrespect towards women rather than violence, because Our Watch’s focus is preventing violence before it occurs. 

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria have advice (relevant for people cross Australia) on how you can support women in this situation or contact 1800RESPECT (call 1800 737 732 or live chat). 


If you are worried about unhealthy, abusive or violent behaviour in any of your relationships, or someone you know is experiencing violence or abuse, including sexual assault, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au for online chat counselling, information and referrals. This service is free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

In an emergency, call the police on 000. 

If you're experiencing sexism or discrimination at work, consider contacting your manager or Human Resources (HR) department, your union, WorkSafe, the Australian Human Rights Commission, or the equal opportunity commission in your state or territory: