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National Media Engagement Project

The National Media Engagement (NME) Project is engaging media to increase quality reporting of violence against women and their children and building awareness of the impacts of gender stereotyping and inequality.
 
Violence against women and their children generates daily media coverage in Australia.

What is missing is an understanding of the links between sexism, gender inequality, community attitudes and this violence.

In fact some reporting perpetuates attitudes and myths that give rise to the violence in the first place.

The NME Project has been designed to address these issues.

There is great willingness in the media and the community to understand and prevent violence. We have a unique opportunity to address this important social issue. 

More informed and helpful media commentary will assist Our Watch and others to achieve a common, community-wide message of respect, equality and non-violence.

Why should we have a long-term project to engage with the media to help end violence against women and their children?

VicHealth’s 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey showed that the majority of Australians believe:
  • violence against women is unacceptable
  • women should be supported when escaping violence at home
  • coercive and controlling behaviour constitutes violence.
However, some troubling attitudes were also evident:
  • around one in four think that domestic violence is a private matter, contributing to a culture of silence 
  • around one in five believe a woman is partly responsible for rape if she is intoxicated
  • around one in five believe violence can be excused if the offender later regrets it
  • around one in six support the notion women say no to sex when they mean yes.
While these attitudes are in the minority they show that victim-blaming and a tendency to excuse or minimise violence still exists in our community.

The media have an important role to play in helping shape attitudes, perceptions and knowledge that give rise to, minimise or excuse violence against women and their children. 

However responsibility for improving media reporting does not lie exclusively with the media industry, but also with violence-prevention agencies and people called to provide expert opinion.

We hope that by taking a national approach to media reporting in the NME Project, we will encourage journalists to report on violence in an ethical and balanced way by including context regarding its causes and its prevention. 

To help do this, we also need to improve the capacity of various violence response and prevention sectors to meet this need for context. 


Click here to find the "audio description" version of this video. 

Building the capacity of women/survivors to enter the debate in a confident and safe way so that they can speak about the wider issues of primary prevention is an important part of the project.

Our Watch has received funding from the Commonwealth Department of Social Services  to develop and implement the NME Project. The project is being developed as an initiative under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

Initiatives

There are four initiatives within the overall NME Project, each working in a mutually reinforcing way - the whole greater than the sum of its parts. 
 

Media capacity training for both future, and practicing, journalists

Our Watch is working with the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia to develop training curriculum material for both university journalism students, and practicing journalists. This two-pronged approach will embed and support a shift in newsroom cultures and practices around reporting on violence against women. 


Website portal with resources

The Our Watch website houses a range of tools for the media produced in collaboration with the Women’s Centre for Health Matters. 

These tools include a guide on how to approach the issue of violence against women, key facts, terminology, ethical reporting considerations, and will over time include useful contacts and resources for journalists around the country. 


A National Survivors’ Media Advocacy Program

Our Watch is working with VicHealth and Women’s Health East to develop a training package to help survivors become more effective media advocates. 

We hope to build survivors’ confidence and ability to tell their own powerful stories and raise awareness of the issues. The main aim of the program is to put the issue in the context of prevention and what we need to do to as a society to stop violence before it occurs.  

Any tools and learnings from the Victorian survivors’ media advocacy program will be passed on to other state services across Australia to support the development of similar programs.


A National Awards Scheme to recognise and encourage accurate reporting of violence against women

In consultation with stakeholders ahead of the launch of the NME project, Our Watch identified the need for a national media awards scheme to: 
  • Recognise and reward good reporting.
  • Serve as an incentive for media to report ethically on violence against women (including a more holistic picture of its causes).
  • Provide a valuable tool for Our Watch and partners across the country to positively engage with the media. 
The first Our Watch Awards was held in 2015.

The four initiatives will be supported and informed by:

A national framework for engaging the media in the prevention of violence against women

We are developing a framework that will engage stakeholders from across various sectors involved with preventing violence against women to develop: 
  • A consistent platform and approach to messaging and working with the media.
  • Identify gaps in the sector’s capability to work with the media.
  • Provide an opportunity to develop various organisation’s approaches to working with the media.
  • Identify tools to develop or improve the sector’s ability to engage with the media in a more consistent and coordinated way.


Formative research to develop an evidence base

Our Watch and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety partnered to develop a study on ‘Media Representations of Violence Against Women and their Children’. This study consists of an evaluation that provides baseline data on how the issue is being reported. Change as a result of interventions will be able to be measured from this baseline. Download the research here. 

Read more about Media Representations of Violence Against Women. This research suggests that while there has been much positive change, best practice reporting of violence against women in Australia is not always the norm, with victim blaming still present in 1 in 6 articles on the issue. Read the full report here

A Media Advisory Group

The Media Advisory Group is bringing together key journalists from television, radio,  print and online media, as well as a number of key media academics, to review material created through the project. The Media Advisory Group will also act as ambassadors within the media industry to build interest in the project, and encourage wider change.