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National primary prevention report 3: Enabling and creating change

February 2022 / 30 minutes

Key terms

  • Primary prevention
  • Prevention strategies
  • Community and leadership
  • Policy and legislation
  • Research and evidence
  • Programming

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Executive summary

Enabling and driving change to achieve a society free from violence against women and their children is possible in Australia. By identifying and supporting the factors and infrastructure that enable and drive primary prevention of violence against women we can create deep and lasting change to the drivers of this violence and ultimately prevent it.

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This third national primary prevention report outlines how primary prevention work is enabled and what enables primary prevention of violence against women activities and change across the country. In doing so, it identifies opportunities to build on this work and advance change to the underlying drivers of gender-based violence. It builds on the previous two reports developed through the National Primary Prevention Hub: 

  • The first national primary prevention report provided an overview of primary prevention in Australia including the policy context, the prevention workforce, and an overview of prevention activity across the country. It also examined the initial impacts of COVID-19 on work towards primary prevention of violence against women 
  • The second national primary prevention report examined the kinds of coordination, collaboration and networks that currently exist among those working on the primary prevention of violence against women in Australia, and explored organisational development across different systems and settings as a prevention technique. 

This report explores what is enabling change across the domains that make up the primary prevention infrastructure as identified in Counting on change: A guide to prevention monitoring, by focusing on 5 themes: 

  1. community mobilisation and leadership  
  2. the prevention workforce 
  3. policy and legislation 
  4. primary prevention programming 
  5. research, evidence and expertise. 

This report examines ongoing activities across the country in areas that have been identified as essential for enabling primary prevention, highlights case studies, and identifies gaps and opportunities to further embed and integrate primary prevention for the future. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have far reaching impacts on women’s experiences of violence, and the prevention sector and workforce, this report will build on the initial insights of how the prevention sector was adapting to the pandemic (outlined in the first national primary prevention report). It expands on some of the continued impacts of the pandemic and how this has enabled work in some cases and limited primary prevention in others. 

This report has been developed utilising several information gathering and synthesising processes. Peer reviewed and grey literature was reviewed, although not systematically. Stakeholders working in primary prevention and gender equality initiatives provided us with information on projects and programs. Information was also found through review of material such as newsletters, grant recipient announcements, and sector communications. Reflections on key issues and developments in work towards the primary prevention of violence against women were provided from key stakeholders who engaged with the Hub through online events and members of the Hub Stakeholder Group, as well as colleagues at Our Watch.   

The Hub team would like to thank everyone who contributed their time and expertise to this report. 

Key points

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Community mobilisation and leadership

Prevention workforce

Policy and legislation

Primary prevention programming

Research, evidence and expertise

Gaps and opportunities


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See Campbell, C., & Cornish, F. (2012). How can community health programmes build enabling environments for transformative communication? Experiences from India and South AIDS and Behavior 16(4), 847-857

Mannell, J., & Dadswell, A. (2017). Preventing intimate partner violence: towards a framework for supporting effective community mobilisation. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology 27(3), 196-211


For a list of the 10 projects, see Stern, (2021). Community Mobilization to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls, Learning from Practice Brief Series, Issue No. 1 (New York, United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women).


Wheildon, L. J., True, J., Flynn, A., & Wild, A. (2021). The Batty Effect: Victim-Survivors and Domestic and Family Violence Policy Change. Violence Against Women. https://doi. org/10.1177/10778012211024266.


Backhouse, , Toivonen, C., & Funston, L. (2021). NSW Voices for Change: Preventing domestic, family and sexual violence through survivor-led media advocacy. Sydney: DVNSW, p. 54.


Our Watch (2020). Tracking progress in prevention. pp. 35-36.


Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), & Nous (2017). Evaluation of the role of local government in preventing violence against women.


  • Carrington, K., Morley, C., Warren, S., Ryan, , Ball, M., Clarke, J., & Vitis, L. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Australian domestic and family violence services and their clients. Australian Journal of Social Issues

Pfitzner, N., Fitz-Gibbon, K., & True, J. (2020). Responding to the ‘shadow pandemic’: practitioner views on the nature of and responses to violence against women in Victoria, Australia during the COVID-19 restrictions. Monash University

Boxall, H., Morgan, A., & Brown, R. (2020). The prevalence of domestic violence among women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Australasian Policing, 12(3), 38-46.



Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). (2020). Gendered impacts of COVID-19.


Australian Human Rights (2020). Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report. Australia: Australian Human Rights Commission, p. 86.


See also Gender and Disaster Network (GDN). (2021). Reference Guide Volume 1 and 2, Gender and Disaster.


Our Watch. (2019). Submission to Inquiry into Gender Responsive Budgeting. Victorian Parliamentary Public Accounts and Estimates Melbourne, Australia: Our Watch.


Our Watch. (2021). No Excuse for Abuse – COVID-19 relaunch: Final evaluation report. Melbourne, Australia: Our Watch


Our Watch (2020). Tracking progress in prevention. p. 60.


Our Watch (2020). Tracking progress in prevention. p. 61.


Our Watch (2020). Tracking progress in prevention. p. 3.


Our Watch (2020). Tracking progress in prevention. p. 57.


Our Watch (2020). Tracking progress in prevention. pp. 201-202.


Australian Human Rights (2020). Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices). p. 145.

Our Watch. (2020). Tracking progress in prevention.

Our Watch. (2017). Counting on change: A guide to prevention monitoring. Melbourne, Australia: Our Watch.


Our Watch. (2020). Tracking progress in prevention.

Our Watch (2017). Counting on change.