A prevention technique is the method for the delivery of prevention.
Some techniques have proven effective, others are considered promising. Prevention activities should aim to use a range of techniques to achieve significant and sustained change. These techniques will be more effective when they are supported by public policy, legislation and regulation, and a skilled workforce.
Together, they create the critical infrastructure needed to enable sustained change. Techniques that have demonstrated effectiveness or promise (when delivered in line with the evidence and approach outlined in this framework) include: direct participation programs, organisational development, community mobilisation and strengthening, communications and social marketing campaigns, civil society advocacy and social movement activism.
Direct participation programs involve face-to-face engagement with individuals or groups. These programs provide participants with the skills and confidence to examine their own beliefs and behaviours and to adopt ones that are more supportive of respect and gender equality.
These programs are particularly effective when they are implemented as part of broader organisational change processes, such as those in schools or workplaces.
Types of direct participation activity
Respectful relationships education
Teach children and young people about gender relations and how to build respectful, non-violent relationships, through age-appropriate curriculum.
At a key time of life transition, these programs can promote positive, respectful and equitable parenting practices, challenge gender stereotypes about parenting and encourage healthy and safe family environments.
Peer or group education programs
Support participants to question sexist beliefs and behaviours in their social group and promote gender equality and respect.
Women’s economic empowerment initiatives
Build women’s financial literacy or ability to seek employment, or address aspects of women’s economic disadvantage.
Arts and cultural groups
Produce exhibitions or performances that promote gender equality and challenge rigid gender stereotypes.
Includes training on the gendered nature of violence, discrimination and inequality, and how violence can be prevented.
Good practice principles
- Run programs with multiple sessions, over time, to reinforce changes to attitudes and behaviours.
- Implement direct participation actions as part of broader, ongoing programs and engagement in a community or organisation.
- Include interactive elements in your program that require participants to actively engage with the content and the opportunity to practise the skills and knowledge they learn.
- Adapt existing resources and tailor them to meet the needs and context of your participants.
- Ensure program facilitators have appropriate expertise.
- Take care that programs with male facilitators do not unintentionally replicate gender inequality by putting men in positions of power or control over women.
- Ensure content recognises diversity in your group, including different cultural and linguistic backgrounds and accessibility needs.
Organisational development involves promoting positive organisational structures and cultures, based on respect and equality between women and men. Because of the influence that workplaces can have on the wider community, these activities can have a significant impact.
Organisational development is an essential activity for organisations wishing to undertake prevention work with external stakeholders or communities. Critically reflecting on their own organisation is an important first step to ensure the organisation has the appropriate structures, norms and practices in place to do the work effectively.
Organisational development can include a large range of actions depending on the context and the resources available.
Types of organisational development activity
Awareness raising campaigns
Increase awareness about the prevalence of violence against women, its drivers and the actions that organisations and individuals can take to prevent it.
Codes of conduct
Set standards of behaviour expected within the organisation, and provide guidance about steps people can take to eliminate discrimination and sexual harassment.
Organisational gender audits
Identify the structural aspects of gender inequality in the organisation, such as pay gaps, women’s representation in management positions and availability of flexible working conditions.
Gender equality strategies
Use the findings from an organisational gender audit to develop an organisational gender equality policy. Strategies may include actions such as developing remuneration and retention policies that address barriers for women.
Organisational cultural audits
Assess an organisation’s cultural awareness and understanding and inform actions to promote cultural awareness, such as developing a Reconciliation Action Plan.
Identifies, promotes and normalises gender equality as part of organisational culture.
Address additional barriers to gender equality, such as gender bias in decision-making.
Good practice principles
- During initial consultations, determine the organisation’s readiness and willingness to participate. Ensure senior leaders are committed to prevention and know how to create an authorising environment.
- Avoid one-off activity and establish a long-term commitment of resources and effort.
- Take a whole-of-organisation approach, using strategies across multiple levels of the organisation, so that change is reinforced.
- Build knowledge and skills in the organisation, as well as formal structures or practices, that support and encourage gender equality.
- Ensure staff delivering actions have access to quality training and support, and regular opportunities to build their confidence and skills.
- Tailor organisational development initiatives to the specific context of the organisation, as well as the wider context of the community you are working in.
- Align work with other prevention initiatives in the community or setting to provide consistent messages on gender equality and ending violence against women.
Community mobilisation and strengthening
Community mobilisation and strengthening engages communities in the design and implementation of initiatives that reflect their needs and priorities. It uses community partnerships and collaboration to support communities to find their own solutions.
Community mobilisation can be an important technique for communities that are marginalised and denied a voice in decision-making.
Types of community mobilisation and strengthening activity
Community-driven initiatives and events
Challenge the drivers of violence against women through local activism and community initiatives, such as community meetings, workshops and cultural activities.
Undertake multiple, coordinated activities across a community which are aligned with a regional prevention strategy or plan. These activities are undertaken by different organisations, across a number of settings, and can often reach people in different parts of the community.
Good practice principles
- Engage key organisations, community leaders and diverse community members at all stages of your work — this will empower the community to be part of decision making and to claim ownership of the initiative. This is particularly important when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Recognise communities are diverse with people from many different backgrounds and with multiple identities and experiences. Tailor initiatives to be inclusive, relevant and culturally sensitive.
- Take care not to unintentionally reinforce existing power relations when partnering with key individuals in the community. Ensure marginalised community members and organisations have an opportunity to contribute to decision-making and to participate in the program.
- Consider that building relationships with a community takes a lot of time and commitment from both sides — if it is not done respectfully and sensitively, people may not trust the program or organisation, and may not be willing to participate.
- Determine the community’s readiness and willingness to participate during initial consultations to identify any resources that may be missing or additional training that may be needed.
Communications and social marketing campaigns
Communications and social marketing campaigns can be used to raise awareness of violence against women and challenge harmful attitudes and behaviours. A variety of media and popular entertainment channels can be used, including television, radio, print, online media and social media.
Strategies should be based on rigorous research and testing with relevant audiences to ensure effectiveness and avoid unintended consequences, such as reinforcing stereotypes. They should have simple and consistent key messages, with tailored messages for specific target audiences.
Experience from communications initiatives on other topics show that communications, alone, have limited impact, but can be powerful when undertaken as part of broader, multi-technique campaigns.
Types of campaigns and social marketing activity
Sustained multi-media campaigns
Challenge attitudes and norms that condone violence or promote gender inequality using radio, television, billboards or other channels to ‘saturate’ the community.
Bring together prevention practitioners and service providers to advocate for reform to policy and legislation to address structural, society-level barriers to gender equality.
Encourage young people to discuss violence and promote gender equality through use of social media or television, alongside a complementary education program that reinforces key messages.
Engage arts organisations to find creative platforms to promote messages on ending violence against women.
Good practice principles
- Avoid single component awareness-raising strategies, which are ineffective in shifting complex social norms.
- If the campaign is targeted at the local community level, assess local experiences and needs of the community or setting you are working in before developing the key messages of the campaign. Test these messages again with your target audience before finalising them.
- Devise campaigns with multiple components, including social media, posters and pamphlets, along with traditional media, such as radio, newspapers and television.
- Develop key messages that are simple, strong and consistent, and address the drivers of violence against women.
- Tailor messages for specific audiences and channels.
- Involve well-known leaders from a wide range of groups in the target community to appeal to a broader audience, and to publicly role model the key messages of the campaign.
- Brief relevant support services so they have an opportunity to plan responses to increased demand as a result of a communications or marketing campaign, particularly in localised areas.
- Be aware of potential backlash or other negative consequences that the campaign may have.
- Develop positive and constructive violence prevention campaigns, which use inclusive images and language. This might include positive images of women with disabilities, Aboriginal women and older women, and diverse depictions of healthy relationships, families and communities.
Civil society advocacy
Civil society advocacy involves building and supporting social movements that encourage governments, organisations, corporations and communities to take action to prevent violence against women. Evidence shows that civil society advocacy is essential to long-term and effective policy development for preventing violence against women.
This work should always be done using a strengths-based approach that draws on the existing knowledge and skills of women’s organisations around the country.
Types of civil society advocacy activity
Advocacy for women’s health
Aims to achieve policy, legislative and institutional reform in the area of women’s health including advocacy for women’s reproductive rights and enhancing women’s independence in public life.
Advocacy for childcare reform
Aims to improve childcare accessibility and quality to increase women’s opportunities and financial independence.
Facilitate opportunities for women to network and advocate, collectively, particularly on issues or in settings where they are underrepresented.
Good practice principles
- Ensure women from disadvantaged or marginalised communities, and the organisations that represent them, are at the forefront of promoting cultural change and violence prevention efforts in their communities.
- Establish strong partnerships or networks between members of civil society, including promoting the role of women’s health organisations as leaders in prevention.
- Encourage champions and advocates in communities to undertake the background work required to be effective and take further responsibility for leading action.
- Engage a diverse range of champions and advocates from both formal and informal leadership positions who are representative of and respected in targeted communities.
- Provide training and ongoing support to ensure they are well-briefed and confident to share key messages about prevention.
- Establish processes to ensure champions and advocates do not have personal histories such as perpetrating violence, gender inequality or racism that undermine their position.
- Avoid using women or women’s organisations to support and sustain male champions and leaders because it reinforces the unequal distribution of power between men and women.
About Our Watch
Our Watch is a national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia. We work to embed gender equality and prevent violence where Australians live, learn, work and socialise.Find more about Our Watch