Primary Prevention

Changing community attitudes and behaviours to help stop family violence before it starts

Building momentum

It is more important to prevent a problem rather than spending a lot of money, time, lives lost [and] children’s lives destroyed in trying to correct the problem in the aftermath.

Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council Rolling Action Plan workshop August 2020

Primary prevention is a long-term agenda that aims to prevent violence from ever happening in the first place. Primary prevention works by identifying the deep underlying causes of violence – the social norms, structures and practices that influence individual attitudes and behaviours – and acting across the whole population to change these, not just the behaviour of perpetrators.

Family violence and all forms of violence against women are driven by gender inequality and other forms of discrimination that give rise to power imbalances.

We must call out and challenge bad attitudes towards women and behaviours, structures and systems to stop family violence before it starts.

On average, one woman per week is killed in Australia by a current or former male partner.

Everyone has a role to play, from grassroots community-based organisations to women’s health services, education providers, sporting associations, the arts, workplaces, all levels of government, local communities and individuals.

In this phase of the reform we will integrate primary prevention more widely and broaden activities beyond the prevention sector for greater collective impact.

Primary prevention and coronavirus (COVID-19)

While the pandemic has affected all Victorians, it has disproportionately impacted women. The risk factors exacerbating family violence rose during the lockdown. As the economic impact deepens the longer-term effects of employment insecurity are expected to be hardest on women.

International evidence shows that emergencies and crises, including the coronavirus pandemic exacerbate existing gender inequalities and other forms of discrimination and inequality.

Primary prevention has been critical to the COVID-19 crisis response to ensure our messaging about behaviours that are unacceptable reaches the widest possible audience, and those at risk know where they can seek help.

Primary prevention will be just as critical to our recovery. We will build prevention approaches into our recovery efforts.

Primary prevention action starts with addressing the gendered drivers of violence against women and other forms of discrimination.

We are doing this by using a range of approaches across multiple settings: policy, program, institutional and legislative responses are being delivered in the places where Victorians live, work, learn and meet.

This video was released in March 2020 to coincide with the publication of our first annual report about delivery of our primary prevention strategy. In the video Gabrielle Williams, Minister for Family Violence, outlines what has been achieved - and where we are headed next.

Free from Violence: Annual Report - Year One 2018-2019

I’d like to see a new motto on Victorian number plates – 'Victoria, a state of respect' or 'I’m an active bystander' car plate, stickers. We need to embed the prevention messaging in our lives.

Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council Rolling Action Plan workshop August 2020

Building on the foundations

Approximately one in four women has experienced intimate partner violence compared to one in 13 men.

Progress since 2016

The Victorian Government has worked with community-based organisations to develop and embed a statewide primary prevention approach to family violence.

The key primary prevention activities which have been delivered since the Royal Commission are grouped here into four areas.

1 Delivering primary prevention initiatives

2 Building evidence

3 Strengthening the prevention workforce

4 Grassroots activity

Government’s focus on building gender equality and driving primary prevention of family violence and all forms of violence against women builds on the extensive work of grassroots and women’s organisations who have been delivering and championing primary prevention for decades.

Partnerships with organisations representing diverse communities are key to progressing effective prevention work. We also know that supporting local activities and coordinating prevention action around key events increases awareness and promotes positive changes in attitudes and behaviours.

There is really good work happening at a local level, and really great leadership at the top with Respect Victoria and the government’s campaigns.

Primary Prevention Sector Forum Rolling Action Plan consultation August 2020

Delivery to 2023

This overview of our planned primary prevention activities to 2023 is grouped into four areas.

1 Strengthening the foundations

2 Scaling up prevention programs and campaigns

We will scale up primary prevention activity across a range of settings, sectors, population groups and geographies, matched by resourcing and investment models that support longer term effort. This will increase the reach and impact of our primary prevention efforts over time, creating the basis for long-term cultural change.

Programs will be designed to reinforce the messages in campaigns and translate them into practical action.

3 Workforce development

We will deliver training and other learning and development opportunities to continue building a skilled, capable and diverse prevention workforce. We will engage workers in schools, community health and across the not-for-profit sector to increase prevention expertise and develop the next generation of prevention practitioners.

Through the reform-wide Industry Plan for workforce development and the first rolling action plan under that plan, Strengthening the Foundations, Government is building workforce capability in primary prevention.

4 Research and evaluation

We will commission research addressing key gaps in understanding about the factors leading to family violence and how these can be prevented. This will lead to more effective prevention programs and services for Victorian communities.

Connecting primary prevention across the reform

As we advance primary prevention activities over the next phase of the reform, we will continue connecting with other family violence and gender equality reform initiatives.

Equality and intersectionality


  • Building from Strength: 10-Year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response, which will see increased family violence response and prevention capability across a range of workforces that intersect with family violence.

Dhelk Dja

Connecting to broader social reforms

Reform-wide priorities

The Victorian Government is committed to creating policy and programs that are relevant, practical and meet the diverse needs of our community.


We are supporting diverse communities across Victoria to continue to lead in innovating and trialling new approaches to primary prevention.

This includes:

  • guidance resources developed by Respect Victoria on embedding diversity and intersectionality into primary prevention program design and delivery
  • improving data collection and the primary prevention research approach to respect complex and intersectional experiences
  • ensuring commissioned research programs have a particular focus on understanding the intersectional drivers of all forms of family violence and what works to prevent it
  • raising the profile of diverse forms of family violence and providing practical guidance for the design, delivery and evaluation of primary prevention work

Late 2020

  • Prevention initiatives piloted as part of the LGBTIQ Family Violence Prevention Project 2019-2021 and informed by Rainbow Health Victoria’s Pride in Prevention, a guide to primary prevention of family violence experienced by LGBTIQ+ communities.


  • Guidance resources developed to support organisations to apply an intersectional lens to primary prevention program design and delivery.


  • Implement the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Multicultural Family Violence program to strengthen multicultural, faith-based and ethno-specific organisations to prevent, identify and respond to family violence in line with the MARAM framework and to ensure community members are accessing the services they need.
  • Co-design and deliver primary prevention initiatives with culturally diverse communities to meet the needs of migrant and refugee communities. For example:
    • the two-year Safer and Stronger Communities pilot started in 2018 to support five leading settlement and multicultural organisations to build their own organisational capacity in primary prevention using the Our Watch Workplace Equality and Respect standards.
  • Working closely with LGBTIQ+ health and community service providers.

Respect Victoria’s behaviour change campaigns will focus on how key drivers of family violence play out in different communities, reflecting the diversity of Victorians.

Intersectionality Overview

Aboriginal self-determination

Victoria’s leading by having Aboriginal voice in discussions.

Women's Health Services Rolling Action Plan consultation workshop August 2020

We are committed to a self-determined approach to primary prevention activity for Aboriginal Victorians.

Awareness-raising campaigns and targeted prevention activities include:

  • providing a culturally safe space for Koori women aged 13-18 to explore the dynamics of healthy relationships
  • strengthening Aboriginal women’s capacity to take a leadership role in prevention through the Spark Health’s Wellah Women Aboriginal Health and Happiness project

Aboriginal women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised and 11 times more likely to die as a result of family violence compared to other Australian women.

  • Supporting 11 Aboriginal organisations to deliver prevention activities with their communities through the Aboriginal Primary Prevention Innovation Fund.
  • Strengthening Aboriginal-led prevention by updating the Indigenous Family Violence Primary Prevention Framework and implementing an Aboriginal-led family violence prevention campaign and education program.
  • Supporting Aboriginal-led innovative and new approaches to prevention with the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum, including targeted investment for Aboriginal-led research and community education programs.
  • Development of a new Aboriginal-led prevention funding model.

Aboriginal Self-Determination Overview

Lived experience

We will continue to provide support for primary prevention programs and policies that are created and informed by the lived experience of victim survivors, including:

  • Respect Victoria will develop a victim survivors engagement plan to ensure all primary prevention efforts are informed by lived experience
  • we will work with the Victim Survivors' Advisory Council during the development of the Free from Violence Second Action Plan (2021-2024) to ensure it includes the lived experience of victim survivors

Lived Experience Overview

Measuring outcomes

Family Violence Outcomes Framework

Delivering the activities for this priority area will likely have the greatest impact in achieving outcomes against the following domains:

Domains 1 and 4

Royal Commission recommendations

The Victorian Government has committed to implement all 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Of the recommendations still in progress, three relate to primary prevention.