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Progress against the First Action Plan

Provides a summary of progress against the First Action Plan.

Snapshot of action status

Priority area one: Build prevention structures and systems

Action Status
1.1 Establish a Family Violence Prevention Agency Actioned
1.2 Continue the Victorian Government’s funding contribution to key national prevention architecture Actioned
1.3 Translate the Preventing Family Violence and Violence Against Women Capability Framework to sector - and community-specific contexts and develop new accredited primary prevention units of competency On track
1.4 Develop and deliver new training in primary prevention Actioned
1.5 Support the establishment of communities of practice and models of practice development for primary prevention practitioners and contributors Actioned
1.6 Support capacity building of the women’s health sector Actioned
1.7 Embed prevention practitioners On track
1.8 Support the disability sector and workforce Actioned
1.9 Support future workforces to drive prevention efforts On track

Priority area two: Research and evaluate

Action Status
2.1 Continue to develop the Free from Violence Outcomes Framework and Family Violence Data Platform (formerly known as the Family Violence Index) On track
2.2 Undertake an audit of prevention activity across Victoria Actioned
2.3 Commission immediate research and establish a Family Violence Primary Prevention Research Alliance On track
2.4 Identify opportunities to scale up existing Community Partnerships for Primary Prevention projects Actioned

Priority area three: Innovate and inform

Action Status
3.1 Deliver an innovation fund to support innovative prevention practice Actioned
3.2 Support innovation in the prevention of violence against Aboriginal people Actioned
3.3 Pilot programs to support gender equality and primary prevention in media and reporting Actioned
3.4 Pilot programs to embed gender equality in sporting sites Actioned
3.5 Test a tailored approach of prevention for culturally diverse communities Actioned
3.6 Support the prevention of family violence and all forms of violence against women through the arts Actioned

Priority area four: Scale up and build on what we know works

Action Status
4.1 Scale up workplace prevention programs On track
4.2 Support universities and TAFEs to deliver whole-of-university prevention initiatives Actioned
4.3 Support local government to be leaders in prevention Actioned
4.4 Support antenatal and postnatal settings to deliver primary prevention activities Actioned
4.5 Expand the Partners in Prevention program Actioned
4.6 Pilot primary prevention bystander programs Actioned
4.7 Scale up projects from the Community Partnerships for Primary Prevention grants program Actioned

Priority area five: Engage and communicate with the community

Action Status
5.1 Further develop a prevention of family violence and violence against women communications strategy On track
5.2 Deliver a prevention of family violence and violence against women behaviour change campaign Actioned
5.3 Deliver an Aboriginal family violence behaviour change campaign On track
5.4 Deliver an LGBTI family violence behaviour change campaign On track
5.5 Deliver an elder abuse behaviour change campaign Actioned
5.6 Deliver a financial abuse media campaign Actioned
5.7 Support the 2018 Victoria Against Violence 16 Days of Activism campaign Actioned


Action status

Actioned - the action is acquitted against the Fist Action Plan, but activities may be ongoing throughout the lifetime of the First Action Plan.

On track - activities under this action are underway, or there is a clear plan for acquitting this action within the First Action Plan timeframe

Priority area one: Build prevention structures and systems

Creating a larger platform for primary prevention in Victoria is essential to increase the breadth and reach of the structures and systems that work to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women.

The establishment of Respect Victoria in Year One is the centrepiece of this strengthened and coordinated primary prevention platform.

Respect Victoria is progressing foundational work to ensure it can deliver its first Strategic Plan (2019-2022). This includes mapping the infrastructure and systems of primary prevention activity and establishing an end-to-end knowledge generation, dissemination and research translation flow.

To further strengthen prevention structures and systems, the Victorian Government has invested in and is supporting organisations that lead and coordinate action and research, strengthen a skilled and expert prevention workforce, and build local partnerships.

The Victorian Government continues to support Our Watch and the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) in recognition of their expertise in primary prevention and leadership on the national scale.

Significant progress has also been made in building the capacity and capability of the primary prevention workforce, through partnerships with Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Our Watch and women’s health services across the state, including Women with Disabilities Victoria. It is in large part due to these partnerships that we are well positioned at the end of Year One with a strong foundation for primary prevention efforts over the lifetime of the ten-year Free from Violence strategy.

Feature initiative: Gender and Disability Workforce Development

The Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program was created by Women with Disabilities Victoria and is funded through the Building from Strength: A 10-Year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response.

The workforce program aims to change the culture of organisations and the social service and disability sectors by providing training for disability support workers, supervisors, managers and affiliated services to increase their workforce and organisational ability to reduce gender and disability-based discrimination and prevent violence against women with disabilities.

The program is piloting a unique Experts by Experience Working Group, consisting of 19 women from diverse backgrounds who identify as having a disability. The group provides expert advice and leadership to ensure that the lived experience of women with a disability informs program design and delivery.

The training program is delivered through an innovative partnership between Women with Disabilities Victoria, a trainer from a women’s health organisation or a Centre Against Sexual Assault and a woman with lived experience of disability.

From September 2018 to March 2019, 156 people have participated in workforce training, including practitioners from a range of social, disability and women’s health services. The program is demonstrating improvement in workforce understanding and awareness of prevention of violence against women with disabilities and generating evidence on the gendered and disability drivers of violence against women with disabilities.

Priority area two: Research and evaluate

To make lasting change to prevent violence before it starts, our efforts must be informed by and contribute to the evidence base for what works. The First Action Plan commits us to undertake research where knowledge gaps exist, evaluate the impact of initiatives, and support continuous learning and improvement.

Respect Victoria is responsible for leading efforts under this priority.

Since the launch of the First Action Plan, Respect Victoria and the Office for Women have commissioned a range of prevention research activities.

Commissioned research has centred on understanding the drivers of family violence in diverse communities, including older Victorians and LGBTIQ people. There has also been a strong focus on data indicators for tracking progress towards the prevention of family violence and violence against women. This includes commencing work to establish a Family Violence Data Platform in collaboration with the Crime Statistics Agency, which responds to recommendation 143 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

A range of collaborative research partnerships with community organisations, universities, institutes, consultants and government agencies have been created to strengthen the scope and impact of research.

Respect Victoria has also commenced scoping the longer-term priorities, needs and gaps to inform planning for ongoing primary prevention research investment.

In Year One, progress has been made to develop a Free from Violence Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to assess outcomes and measure the impact of the Victorian Government’s investment under the First Action Plan. As part of this work, ANROWS is developing a validated and tailored survey instrument based on the National Community Attitudes Survey, in order to support coordinated and consistent monitoring and evaluation across initiatives.

The first of its kind in Australia – this ground-breaking survey will begin to measure point in time knowledge and attitudes towards family violence, violence against women, gender equality and bystander action. It will, for the first time, start to capture other forms of family violence, for example, violence against women with a disability or intimate partner violence in sexually and gender diverse relationships.

Feature initiative: Men, masculinities and the prevention of violence against women

In 2018, the Office for Women commissioned Our Watch to conduct an extensive evidence review to develop a deeper understanding of the links between dominant forms and patterns of masculinity and violence against women. The research explored how challenging these patterns and effectively engaging men can contribute to primary prevention efforts. Key findings include that:

  • Many men feel pressures to conform to dominant norms of masculinity such as autonomy, dominance and control, stoicism and suppression of emotion. These can help to maintain gender inequality by providing legitimacy to the privilege and power men hold over women.
  • Men who form a rigid attachment to ‘norms of masculinity’ are more likely to demonstrate sexist attitudes and behaviours, and use violence against women, especially when their masculinity is challenged or when they find it difficult to live up to these norms.
  • Engaging men and boys to reflect on and challenge dominant forms of masculinity can contribute to the reduction and prevention of violence against women.

Guiding principles developed through this research will be used to inform future primary prevention efforts that focus on masculinities and engaging men and boys, including the importance of maintaining accountability to women and applying an intersectional lens.

Priority area three: Innovate and inform

We know that family violence affects diverse communities in different ways and that what works in one context may not work in another. To build our knowledge and understanding of what works to prevent violence across different settings, social and cultural contexts we need to test new approaches. The First Action Plan commits us to design, trial, and evaluate innovative prevention initiatives, and to prioritise working with Aboriginal and culturally diverse communities.

In Year One, we have expanded partnerships to design and implement innovative community-led primary prevention initiatives. Two key grant programs funded under Free from Violence invested in the expertise and experience of Aboriginal- and community-led organisations:

  • Free from Violence Innovation Fund
  • Aboriginal Family Violence Primary Prevention Innovation Fund

Through these projects, a range of innovative primary prevention approaches have been trialled with new partners, in new settings and with new target groups. Other innovative projects were also supported in the media, sport and arts as well as with culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Key outcomes of this body of work are a growing body of evidence on what works to prevent violence in different communities, and the foundations for the community-level partnerships and leadership capacity that is required to create and sustain long-term change.

We will continue to build on and apply what we have learned from working with and for different communities and settings with a view to scale up successful initiatives in the future.

Feature initiative: Wellah Women

Wellah Women is Spark Health’s Aboriginal Women’s Health and Happiness Project, supported through the Aboriginal Family Violence Primary Prevention Innovation Fund. The program first ran in Melton in 2018 as ‘Ngarrimili’ and has engaged women again as ‘Wellah Women’ in Bundoora in 2019. Spark Health have engaged over 70 Aboriginal women and their children over the two programs.

Wellah Women is an eight-week program that brings Aboriginal women together to make friends, connect to Community and harness their strengths. Children are also welcomed and encouraged to take part in the program, making it easier for women to come along every week. The program is delivered afterhours and each session centres around a guest presentation and workshop and finished with a fun work out.

The program goals focus on better mood and self-esteem, improved health and fitness, new friends, better Community connections and links to services. By focussing on health and happiness, rather than explicitly on family violence, Spark Health has found the program is more accessible for participants who then feel supported to open up about their experiences.

The program is hitting the mark for its participants. When asked what was most beneficial about the program, responses included: “coming together to be strong black women” and “I was so excited to be part of this program. I have a few things going on in my life at the moment and it made me redirect to what was important again.”

‘Wellah’ the Aboriginal superhero is the program’s mascot. As a strong Aboriginal woman, Wellah challenges gender stereotypes and promotes Aboriginal female strength and empowerment. At the end of the program, participants are presented with a certificate and their own super power – a highlight for the kids!

Priority area four: Scale up and build on what we know works

The First Action Plan identifies that investing in and expanding proven and promising prevention activities in high-priority settings is key to embedding evidence-based primary prevention approaches across the state.

In Year One, primary prevention activity was strengthened in settings shown to have impact and reach, including in local government, tertiary education, workplaces and antenatal and postnatal settings. This provides the important groundwork and evidence building for scale up in the coming years that will reach people across the lifecycle.

Local government continued to strengthen its role in promoting gender equality and preventing violence against women in Year One, with 35 councils – including 20 in regional and rural areas – supported to deliver innovative projects through Free from Violence Local Government Grants. This represents nearly half of all Victorian councils leading the way in primary prevention, by promoting gender equality in their workplaces and increasing their capacity to engage with the community to prevent family violence.

The Victorian Government has also invested in the Workplace and Equality and Respect program, developed by Our Watch, including an online hub for open access to resources. The program was applied in a wide range of workplaces in Year One, from local governments, to TAFEs and universities, and the public sector.

Work is underway to develop and pilot whole-of-setting prevention models in TAFEs and universities. VicHealth also led a behavioural insights project with two universities into what works to encourage bystander action, to inform evidence-based guidance to promote effective bystander interventions.

Feature initiative: Baby Makes 3

In 2018-19, Carrington Health was funded under Free from Violence to expand the Baby Makes 3 program to new settings and communities, reaching more diverse participants in metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria and with more CALD, Rainbow and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

For example, Carrington Health partnered with Maribyrnong City Council and VicSeg New Futures to adapt and trial the Baby Makes 3 program for Vietnamese parents. Program materials and messaging were translated into Vietnamese and adapted to be more culturally appropriate, with the program delivered by bi-lingual male and female Vietnamese facilitators. The program was successfully delivered to 22 Vietnamese parents in Maribyrnong, who all agreed the program was relevant for Vietnamese families, with 95% agreeing they have a better understanding of relationship equality as a result of participating in the program.

An evaluation of the expanded work of Baby Makes 3 in 2018-19 highlighted the promising reach and effectiveness of respectful relationships messaging in childbirth education (antenatal) programs delivered at public maternity hospitals, and suggested that a shorter postnatal program delivered by Maternal and Child Health services may be equally effective and could achieve greater completion rates. Carrington Health will now trial shorter postnatal programs in both metropolitan and rural local government areas

Feature initiative: Take action: empowering bystanders to act on sexist and sexually harassing behaviours

A two-year research partnership between VicHealth, The Behavioural Insights Team and the Victorian Government focused on identifying the behavioural drivers that encourage bystanders who witness sexism and sexual harassment to step in and act.

In 2018-19, two different approaches to equipping individuals with the skills, information and motivation to become active bystanders were trialled at the University of Melbourne and Victoria University. At the University of Melbourne, a wide population of staff and students were engaged using a series of email communications. The research found that there was a 10% increase in bystander intervention in the group that received information about what is acceptable behaviour.

Alongside the research, VicHealth developed an evidence-based resource to help organisations introduce bystander initiatives as part of their work to reduce sexist and sexually harassing behaviours. The resource explains what ‘active bystanding’ is and provides guidance on four key steps for implementing effective bystander initiatives: 1) organisational preparation 2) readiness assessment 3) designing easy, attractive, social and timely bystander initiatives and 4) evaluation.

The research and accompanying resource (available on the VicHealth website) were showcased at the Promoting Bystander Action Forum hosted by VicHealth, Respect Victoria and the Office for Women on 9 October 2019.

Priority area five: Engage and communicate with the community

All Victorians have a role to play in preventing family violence and all forms of violence against women. Community behaviour change campaigns will support all Victorians to actively embrace their role in shaping cultures that reject discrimination, inequality and disrespectful behaviours. Respect Victoria is responsible for leading this priority area.

In its first year, Respect Victoria has met, consulted and collaborated with more than 175 individual organisations across a range of settings and sectors to build support for and active involvement in effective primary prevention policy, practice and investment. This has included local government, community health agencies, academic institutions, faith-based organisations, police and justice bodies, and a variety of industries including transport, finance and legal services.

Since the release of the First Action Plan, three behaviour change advertising campaigns have been launched under the ‘Call it Out’ banner, now under the management of Respect Victoria:

  • March 2018 – Respect Women: ‘Call it Out’ phase one (café) encouraged calling out disrespectful and sexist behaviour
  • April 2019 – Respect Women: ‘Call it Out’ phase two (public transport) encouraged bystander action when safe to do so
  • June 2019 – Respect Older People: ‘Call it Out’ aimed to build community understanding of elder abuse, including financial abuse, and to shift the attitudes of entitlement that underpin it

A targeted LGBTIQ campaign and a multicultural elder abuse campaign are planned for the year ahead.

Through these behaviour change campaigns we are aiming to increase awareness of what constitutes family violence, increase the number of people seeking assistance and support, and build a greater level of community ownership and understanding about what is required to end family violence. The messages of these behaviour change campaigns are complemented and reinforced at the individual, community and organisational level through the diverse range of primary prevention programs supported under the First Action Plan.

Early evaluation findings indicate the campaigns are having their intended impact. Campaigns will continue to be informed by a growing evidence base and long-term strategy.

Feature initiative: Respect Women: 'Call it Out'

The Respect Women: ‘Call it Out’ campaign series provides the tools necessary to call out disrespectful and sexist behaviour, a known driver of violence against women. The first phase of the campaign was launched by the Victorian Government in March 2018.

The second phase, and the first campaign wholly developed and launched by Respect Victoria in April 2019, focused on encouraging bystander action on public transport. Informed by a behavioural insights approach, the advertising campaign featured a woman on a train being stared at by a man whilst another commuter considers whether to intervene. The campaign shows even the smallest of acts can potentially stop sexual harassment from occurring. Guidance from Respect Victoria on how active bystanders can learn to recognise and safely intervene in potentially dangerous situations accompanied the campaign.

As a result of the Respect Women: ‘Call it Out’ behaviour change campaigns, more than four out of five Victorians can identify what family violence is and its causes. Research indicates that Victorians who have seen the campaign have more positive attitudes towards gender equality and are more likely to endorse the importance of respect and the impact of family violence.