Prevention of Violence Against Women
'Inner East Local Governments Preventing of Violence Against Women' Project
- About this Project
- A prevalent, serious but preventable issue
- Primary prevention
- Role of Local Government
The project was based within four local governments in Melbourne's inner east metropolitan region. The primary prevention project aimed to drive and embed organisational and cultural change within the four Councils to adopt polices and have council plans that address the underlying causes including gender and power inequality between men and women. A project officer was employed to undertake this collaborative project working on behalf of all four councils.
This project broke new ground within the Inner East region; with local government taking a lead role to address an issue not traditionally recognised as their 'core business'. This project was also unique in that it involved working across four councils and in the number and range of project partners who participated, bringing expertise from local governement, community and women's health, the family violence sector and the local PCP.
This project proved instrubmental in developing local leadership, generating political will and securing ongoing resources.
The challenges, achievements and "enablers" used to progress the project successfully to implementation are outlined in this case study.
The evaluation findings from this project are outlined in the Project Final Report.
A case study sharing the overall learnings of this project is currently being written and will be avail on this webpage in coming weeks.
For further information about this project please contact:
Violence against women is understood to occur on a continuum of economic, psychological and emotional abuse through to physical and sexual violence.
It refers to ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life’ (UN 1993).
Violence against women is a prevalent problem with serious health, social and economic consequences. It is recognised as a violation of women’s human rights under a number of treaties and conventions to which the Australian and Victorian governments are signatories.
In 2004 the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation identified the prevention of violence against women as a priority for action. At that time we knew that violence against women was;
- prevalent (ABS 2003)
- the most significant risk factor for the physical and mental health of women aged 15–45 years (VicHealth 2004)
- cost the Australian community $8.1 billion per annum (Access Economics 2004).
While primary prevention of violence is an emerging area of practice worldwide, there is a growing consensus that it is possible to prevent violence against women before it occurs (WHO 2002).
There is also mounting agreement that this problem is too prevalent and its consequences for individuals and communities too great to limit efforts to responding after violence has occurred (WHO 2002). Rather, there is a need to develop a spectrum of prevention responses.
Primary prevention strategies seek to prevent violence before it occurs.
Some primary prevention strategies focus on changing behaviour and/or building the knowledge and skills of individuals. However, the structural, cultural and societal contexts in which violence occurs are also very important targets for primary prevention.
Consistent themes emerging in the expert literature are the links between the perpetration of violence against women and:
- the way gender roles, identities and relationships are constructed and defined within societies, communities and organisations and by individual men and women, and
- the distribution of power and material resources between men and women
Strategies that do not have a particular focus on violence against women but address its underlying causes are examples of primary prevention strategies.
The work of helping prevent family violence and abuse is a challenge for the whole community, in which family members, relatives, friends, and colleagues, and community organizations may participate. As a level of government which is closely attuned to the aspirations and activities of the community, local government has an important role to play in contributing to the wider community response to family violence.
A number of commentators maintain that local government can provide leadership and co-ordination of community-based initiatives,
Support for a key role for councils is also found at Federal and State levels, the 2009 National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women affirming that local government “…has a key leadership role in ensuring that their communities have the best possible resources and that these are delivered efficiently”, noting its intention to work with local government in reducing violence against women (Lloyd et al, 2009: 27), and urging that the Federal, State and local government, collaborate to develop polices and responses to family violence (2009: 156).