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Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence

Australia has a choice. We can change the story that currently sees a woman murdered every week by a current or former partner. We can choose a future where women and their children live free from violence. Put simply, violence against women and their children is preventable.
In a world first, Australia now has a framework for a consistent and integrated national approach to preventing violence against women and their children.

What our framework makes clear is that gender inequality is the core of the problem and it is the heart of the solution.
An Australia free of violence against women and their children is an Australia where women are not only safe, but respected, valued and treated as equals in private and public life.

Click here for the audio description version of Let's change the story: Violence against women in Australia video. 
Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia was developed by Our Watch, the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS). It was released in November 2015.

Violence against women is preventable

Change the story brings together international research, and nationwide experience, on what drives violence against women and their children and what works to prevent it. It establishes a shared understanding of the evidence and principles of effective prevention, and presents a way forward for a coordinated national approach.  
Particular expressions of gender inequality consistently predict higher rates of violence against women:
  • Condoning of violence against women.
  • Men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence in public and private life.
  • Rigid gender roles and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity.
  • Male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women.

Reinforcing factors – within the context of the gendered drivers – can increase frequency or severity of violence:
  • Condoning of violence in general.
  • Experience of, and exposure to, violence.
  • Weakening of pro-social behaviour, especially harmful use of alcohol.
  • Socio-economic inequality and discrimination.
  • Backlash factors (increases in violence when male dominance, power or status is challenged). 

What we need to do to prevent violence against women in Australia

Change the story identifies five essential and five supporting actions to address the factors that drive and reinforce violence against women. These actions need to be undertaken across the nation, in multiple settings, by a range of stakeholders.
Essential actions to address the gendered drivers of violence against women:
  • Challenge condoning of violence against women.
  • Promote women’s independence and decision-making in public life and relationships.
  • Foster positive personal identities and challenge gender stereotypes and roles.
  • Strengthen positive, equal and respectful relations between and among women and men, girls and boys.
  • Promote and normalise gender equality in public and private life.
Supporting actions to address the reinforcing factors:
  • Challenge the normalisation of violence as an expression of masculinity or male dominance.
  • Prevent exposure to violence and support those affected to reduce its consequences.
  • Address the intersections between social norms relating to alcohol and gender.
  • Reduce backlash by engaging men and boys in gender equality, building relationship skills and social connections.
  • Promote broader social equality and address structural discrimination and disadvantage.

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Change the story three years on: Reflections on uptake and impact, lessons learned and Our Watch’s ongoing work to embed and expand the evidence on prevention

In May 2019, Our Watch published Change the story three years on – an interim review of Change the story. It reviews the uptake of, and response to, Change the story by policy makers, practitioners and other readers and users of the framework across Australia, and considers the lessons learned from this feedback. It also describes Our Watch’s ongoing work to both implement and build on the framework.

The framework will be reviewed again in 2021 to align with the final stage of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022