Primary prevention project aims to change attitudes
Published: 28 Feb 2020 12:27pm
Recent tragic events involving domestic and family violence in Australia have served as a sobering reminder of the importance for primary prevention. It’s prevention that aims to change entrenched social attitudes of disrespect towards women and girls – disrespect that in many cases leads to violence.
Wagga Wagga’s rate of domestic and family violence remains 29.4 per cent higher than the NSW state average – a rate which has increased 40 per cent in the last five years.
It was in response to these statistics, and the results of local research, that the Wagga Women’s Health Centre partnered with Wagga Wagga City Council to implement a long-term plan for primary prevention: theDVproject:2650.
theDVproject:2650 aims to educate our community on the causes of violence against women and their children, promote gender equality and respect for women, and challenge rigid gender roles and stereotypes.
A strong supporter of theDVproject:2650, Wagga Wagga City Council General Manager Peter Thompson believes addressing the root cause of violence – gender inequality – is imperative in bringing about long-term change.
“Domestic and family violence is a very real and current issue facing our community. By having a Wagga-specific primary prevention project, we’re actively working to bring about a permanent change in people’s attitudes towards women and girls, and prevent violence from happening in the first place,” Mr Thompson said.
“This project is an important part of the process needed to instigate change in our community. From Enlighten for Equity – our school-based project, working with local businesses and education providers, plus the organisational changes we’re driving here at Council, we’re calling on all areas of our community to be champions for change in gender equality.”
In 2016 the Wagga Women’s Health Centre conducted a survey to assess the community’s knowledge and attitudes towards domestic violence and gender roles. The findings were concerning, with results showing many members of the community hold low support for gender equality, adhere to rigid or stereotypical gender roles, and have attitudes and beliefs that justify, excuse, trivialise or minimise domestic and family violence, and blame the victim.
Wagga Wagga City Council Equity Project Manager Maryna Bilousova said the survey findings were valuable in formulating the project’s three-year plan.
“The Community Attitudes survey gave us great insight and helped us identify three key areas. We’re working towards instilling organisational change within Council, engaging local businesses across Wagga, and rolling out community-wide campaigns, such as our current Reflect Respect campaign.
“All three components allow us to take a preventive focus by looking at how we can change the behaviours and attitudes of disrespect and inequality in our community,” Ms Bilousova said.
theDVproject:2650 is run by Wagga Wagga City Council’s Equity and Respect team and is endorsed by the Wagga Women’s Health Centre. The three-year project is running until June 2021.
If this story has raised issues for you, please contact any of the below support lines.
- Domestic Violence Line: phone 1800 656 463
- 1800RESPECT: phone 1800 737 732
- Beyond Blue: phone 1300 224 636
- MensLine Australia: phone 1300 789 978
- Lifeline: phone 13 11 14