February 2022 / 30 minutes reading time
The feedback collected at the event will inform the development of Tasmania’s third Family and Sexual Violence Action Plan. The event consisted of:
This paper summarises the case studies and key themes that were discussed at the forum and in the post-event survey to promote information and knowledge sharing across the Tasmanian sector. There are links to related evidence, research and primary prevention approaches throughout the report to support information sharing and knowledge-building.
Primary prevention of violence against women is work that aims to stop violence against women from occurring in the first place. It works to change the gendered drivers of this violence, and the underlying social condition of gender inequality in which it arises (see the Prevention Handbook: The link between gender inequality and violence against women).
While response and early intervention approaches work with individuals who are already experiencing or perpetrating violence (or at risk of doing so), primary prevention is a whole-of-population approach that aims to deliver a future where all women and their children live free from violence.
Primary prevention encompasses a diverse range of work at all levels of society, including with individuals, communities, organisations and institutions. This is referred to as the socio-ecological model in Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women in Australia.
This framework demonstrates the dynamic and interrelated factors that work across all levels of our society that are associated with higher levels of violence against women.
The socio-ecological model encompasses the gendered social norms, practices and structures (both formal and informal) that sustain the environment of gender inequality in which violence against women occurs.
Change the story outlines the particular expressions or manifestations of gender inequality that are most consistently associated with higher levels of violence against women. The gendered drivers of violence against women outlined in the framework are:
The gendered drivers exist in social contexts that are characterised by intersecting forms of oppression, discrimination, power and privilege including racism; colonialism; classism; heteronormativity; cisnormativity; homo-, bi- and transphobia; ableism and ageism. These intersecting forms of oppression and privilege also effect the prevalence and dynamics of violence against women.
To prevent violence against women, a multifaceted approach is required to address the gendered drivers across the socioecological model to reach everyone, challenging the gendered drivers where people work, live, learn and play. As part of this approach, primary prevention needs to be undertaken across various interrelated settings including education, sports, the arts, media, and public spaces.
As detailed in Putting the prevention of violence against women into practice: How to Change the story there are a number of different techniques that can be used to prevent violence against women, such as direct participation, community mobilisation and strengthening organisational development, communication and social marketing, policy and legislative change, and civil society advocacy.
For primary prevention to be successful, it requires a dedicated infrastructure that includes mechanisms for coordination, an expert workforce, policy and legislative reform, and shared monitoring and evaluation frameworks. It is a holistic endeavour, that requires coordinated, mutually reinforcing strategies at all levels of society.
Promoting effective primary prevention work in Tasmania means understanding the gendered drivers of violence against women within the social contexts in which it occurs. This includes how they are reinforced in context-specific ways, which exacerbate violence against women and girls in Tasmania, as well as the state’s unique strengths and opportunities to end this violence.
Compared to other states and territories, key population data indicates that Tasmania has:
While these factors do not drive violence against women, they reinforce the severity, prevalence and dynamics of men’s violence against women and girls in Tasmania.
In 2015, the Tasmanian Government launched Safe Homes, Safe Families: Tasmania’s Family Violence Action Plan 2015-2020 [PDF download]. Part of this plan involved becoming a member of Our Watch in 2015 and committing to be part of the shared approach to primary prevention that is articulated in Change the story.
In 2019, the Tasmanian Government released Safe Homes, Families and Communities : Tasmania’s Action Plan for Family and Sexual Violence 2019-2022 [PDF download]. This was the Government’s second family violence action plan and included an expanded focus to recognise the related but unique issue of sexual violence.
As part of the second plan, the Tasmanian Government formed a partnership with Our Watch to support, amplify and streamline primary prevention work being done in the community, in a bid to eliminate violence against women. This included having a dedicated Our Watch Senior Advisor to support primary prevention policy and practice across the state. As part of this nation-first partnership, gaps and opportunities were identified in existing work to build capacity to expand prevention in a variety of settings across Tasmania, including local and state government, workplaces, education providers, and sporting organisations.
Following work undertaken to promote gender equality in workplaces under the Tasmanian Government’s first family violence action plan, Tasmanian Government agencies are implementing Our Watch’s Workplace Equality and Respect Standards, and are currently developing action plans around how to best advance gender equality within their workplaces.
Our Watch is also working in partnership with the Local Government Association of Tasmania and councils to develop a clearer understanding of local government’s important role in promoting gender equality and preventing violence within their communities and as workplaces.
Complementing this work in the policy space, a community of practice was established to facilitate knowledge sharing and develop a state-wide framework for Tasmanian local governments to engage in primary prevention, including supporting a motion for the Local Government Association of Tasmania Conference in 2022. This work will be accompanied by a professional development program to build skills and confidence in promoting equality and challenging disrespect.
Smaller states like Tasmania face challenges that prevent the development of a distinct primary prevention workforce. To address these challenges, alongside their early intervention and response work, several organisations are developing and delivering prevention of violence against women programs. The following case studies outline some of those activities.
The National Primary Prevention Hub forum brought together a range of organisations and key stakeholders to discuss and reflect on what’s working in the violence prevention space in Tasmania, what challenges and barriers exist, and how to ensure this work is being implemented strategically across the state. This included presentations from the following organisations on their primary prevention work:
The following section summarises the key information and themes from each presentation and demonstrates how the organisations are contributing to the prevention of violence against women in Tasmania.
Effectively engaging individuals and communities in preventing violence requires an understanding of their unique circumstances, experiences, and strengths. For the Sexual Assault Support Service (SASS), this means recognising that young people are seeking information about intimate relationships – including sex – thus creating a space for open, honest and sex-positive dialogue in their ‘Consent is a Conversation’ high school program.
Similarly, as part of Big hART’s Project O co-design model, they encourage participants to organise primary prevention events in spaces that are safe and comfortable for the group or community they are working with. Meeting communities ‘where they are at’ in this way improves levels of engagement and facilitates the development of more targeted and sustainable initiatives.
Meeting people and communities where they are at has proven effective in South-East Tasmania Aboriginal Corporation’s (SETAC) work with Aboriginal communities. Strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ connection to culture through traditional practices is a key element of SETAC’s primary prevention work.
Through the Bark Hut project, SETAC will help at-risk families build a strong foundation together by connecting through cultural practices, while also connecting these families to specialist violence against women services.
Similarly, as part of their Rullanih Palawa (Strong Men, Strong Futures) project, SETAC facilitators take groups of Aboriginal men out on country for a four-day workshop. The facilitators, who are Aboriginal men, utilise cultural bonding practices and yarning circles to promote personal storytelling among participants.
The process of sharing their experiences as both victims and perpetrators of violence allows the group to develop an understanding of what violence looks like in their communities, the impact it can have on people of all genders, and how best to address this violence. Doing so has promoted empathy and connection among participating men and instil a greater commitment to positive bystander behaviours and community action to end violence against women.
‘It’s about being able to have Aboriginal people draw back on their culture to strengthen themselves, and strengthen their roots.’ – Jamie Curry, acting CEO of SETAC.
Victim-survivors play a central role in raising awareness of violence against women in Australia, developing community-based initiatives and promoting key legislative change.
Alongside continued support for these advocates, promoting similar opportunities for people from marginalised backgrounds who have unique insights into how violence manifests in their communities and are best positioned to help prevent it, enables prevention.
These opportunities need to go beyond consultation, to include meaningful input and engagement in the planning, implementation and evaluation of prevention projects.
Project O is an arts-based education program run by Big hART in Tasmania’s north-west, which aims to empower young women to be changemakers in their communities. Through weekly arts-based workshops in rural high schools, young women learn the skills to plan, execute and speak at community events, and express themselves through a variety of artistic mediums. This program addresses some of the key drivers of violence in rural and remote communities by amplifying the voices of young women and developing key skills.
Project O’s key aim is to shift the narrative these young women have about themselves by instilling a sense of confidence, agency and resilience, while also creating viable employment pathways. Through this work, opportunities for meaningful co-design processes have also emerged.
At a Big hART event with Project O participants from three different high schools held in 2021, victim-survivor advocate Rosie Batty facilitated a discussion about the challenges and prejudices these young women face, and helped to reframe them as opportunities for powerful change. Following this, a group of young women approached the Project O team to pitch a mental health event in their community to address the lack of access to timely psychological care. Through a series of workshops, the Project O team assisted the young women in co-designing an event at the local skatepark. This was a space the young women identified as a place of no judgement and strong community. The event brought together service providers and over 150 community members to converse and connect.
Key outcomes included increased community awareness, the development of a localised opinions and experiences survey, and an action plan to roll out mental health first aid training across the community. As demonstrated by Project O’s work, young Tasmanians in rural and high-needs communities have the capability, skills and drive to create positive social change, particularly with respect to gender equality and empowerment.
The 2022 Young Australian of the Year, Kaytlyn Johnson, a Project O alumnae, was recognised for her role in advocating for young Indigenous women, and cited Project O as a foundational experience in her journey.
‘This is but one snapshot example of the quickfire spread of ideas and initiatives that can be activated by investing in the co-design and leadership development of young people around issues that connect to their lived experience.’ – Holly Rankin Smith, Associate State Manager (TAS) at Big hART.
A key focus of primary prevention work in Tasmania is to educate young people and provide them with the capacity, tools and platforms to be agents of change in their communities.
This approach leverages the unique opportunities young people have to effect positive change in their peers’, parents’ and grandparents’ attitudes, and is particularly useful when seeking to engage otherwise hard-to-reach groups such as rural and Aboriginal communities.
Citizen Tasmania’s None a Week campaign aims to mobilise young people of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds to create generational change in their communities’ attitudes toward violence against women. This is important given a national Migrant and Refugee Women in Australia: The Safety and Security Study found that 92% of migrant and refugee women experience controlling behaviour, and 42% experience physical and sexual violence in Australia. Further, women from migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds who experience violence can face barriers to accessing support and legal recourse.
The campaign focuses on educating, empowering and connecting young Tasmanians of migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds to lead change on preventing violence against women in their communities, using their own languages and cultural tools. The campaign of None A Week, accompanied by the film One A Week, sits within a broader arts-based program delivered by Citizen Tasmania.
While the None A Week campaign takes a whole-of-community approach, Citizen Tasmania acknowledges that older generations can find change challenging. A key focus of the organisation’s primary prevention work is to support younger generations to address and overcome this resistance.
Using the arts as a vehicle for social change, the campaign helps young people to raise awareness about different challenges in their communities, including violence against women. The campaign aims to equips young people with the confidence and the legal and social skills to be agents of change within their families, peer groups and wider communities.
'None a Week’s primary prevention model is about educating young people, and supporting them to get involved in shifting the statistic from one a week, to none a week*.’ – Grace Williams, Founder and Director of Citizen Tasmania.
* This statistic refers to one woman being killed a week by her current or former partner nationally. See Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2018). Violence against women: Accurate use of key statistics (ANROWS Insights 05/2018).
Organisations in Tasmania are adopting strengths- and rights-based frameworks to engage and educate the community about family and sexual violence. A strengths-based approach recognises the importance of language, and focuses on people’s right to safety, intimacy and connection rather than emphasising risk, weakness or abstinence. This has proven particularly effective in the context of respectful relationships and consent education in schools.
The primary role of the Sexual Assault Support Service (SASS) is to provide trauma-informed counselling to people who have been affected by sexual harm in Tasmania. SASS works to prevent this harm by running education and training programs in schools, workplaces and community spaces. The programs employ a rights-based approach, which emphasises the right to great relationships, safe intimacy and connection for all people.
The Safe, Smart Kids workshop is run in primary schools as early as Grade 3. While it does not address sex and intimacy directly, it lays important foundations for future sex education by educating children about gender roles, consent and what safety does and does not feel like. Throughout these conversations, SASS facilitators use positive reinforcement to emphasise their participants’ right to safety and bodily autonomy.
The Consent is a Conversation workshop is run with high school students and builds on this by facilitating discussions about sex, intimacy and relationships. The program is underpinned by a pragmatic understanding of young Tasmanians’ lives and the age in which they start entering romantic relationships and/or become sexually active. SASS facilitators create space for open and honest communication about intimacy, relationships and the notion of consenting. Crucially, by framing consenting as a verb, rather than a noun, they seek to emphasise that consent is not an object that can be ‘given’ or ‘received’: consenting is a practice that a person is either doing or not doing at any given moment.
‘We really let them know what their human sexual rights are, that they have that right to great relationships, and the way to great relationships is through safe intimacy and connection, if they ever choose to do that.’ – Laura Davis, Primary Prevention Educator at SASS.
Recruiting public figures as role models and ambassadors is an effective way to raise awareness about violence against women and promote engagement in primary prevention work, particularly when it comes to engaging men and boys.
However, organisations are also enlisting, educating and upskilling everyday Tasmanians of all genders, circumstances and social backgrounds to be leaders in the prevention of violence within their families, peer groups and local communities.
A key element of this work are initiatives that address how to recognise the signs of violence or violence supportive attitudes, and safely and effectively challenge these attitudes and behaviours.
Alongside their crucial work in crisis accommodation, Hobart Women’s Shelter have facilitated the implementation of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program in communities across Tasmania. To support this, representatives from the Boston University Mentors in Violence Prevention program visited Tasmania to deliver a three-day train-the-trainer workshop with 30 local community members. Operating under the auspices of the Hobart Women’s Shelter, these licensed facilitators have run workshops with 392 participants in workplaces and community spaces in almost every local council area in the State.
Mentors in Violence Prevention is a bystander intervention program that educates participants about the links between gender inequalities and violence against women, teaches participants how to recognise the signs of violence, and equips them with the tools to safely and effectively challenge these behaviours.
Throughout the workshop, facilitators challenge deeply embedded biases associated with gender and violence, promoting open dialogue and personal storytelling within the group. The program uses a four-tier bystander behaviour model:
‘It may be a very small action, but it can have significant impacts on the victim of that bullying, harassment or violence. Small actions can have big benefits.’ – Helen Hudson, Head of Policy at Hobart Women’s Shelter.
To help inform the Tasmanian Government’s third Family and Sexual Violence Action Plan, a discussion paper was sent out to participants prior to the event, discussions were held during the event, and post-event feedback and comments were collected via an online survey sent by Our Watch through the National Primary Prevention Hub. Participants were asked to consider the following questions across the different settings of workplaces, community and education:
‘We're at a really pivotal moment, both nationally and as a state. Next year, we'll have a new national plan to address violence against women, and of course there will be a new Family and Sexual Violence Action Plan for Tasmania. We have a tremendous opportunity right now to think about what we've learned in our practice, what we've learned in our own experiences, and really contribute that into an integrated national approach, and an integrated strategy for Tasmanians.’ – Kelsey Paske, Our Watch Senior Advisor Tasmania.
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