Changing social norms to prevent gender-based violence in Australia
Behavioural and Communications
After a series of high-profile domestic violence cases put the issue back on the national agenda, the Australian Government needed fresh insight and evidence to identify more effective interventions.
At the time, 96% of Australian adults believed violence against women is wrong. Yet, one in four younger Australians maintained violence supportive attitudes.
A clear disconnect between values and attitudes was helping to perpetuate unacceptable rates of physical and sexual violence against women.
Source: Department of Social Services, Australian Government.
Every little talk you have shapes your kids – and the adults they will become. Bring up respect early and often. Because all violence against women starts with disrespectful behaviour.
Our proprietary behaviour change framework drove a robust body of research to re-examine the spectrum of influences – both conscious and non-conscious – in this sensitive area. Leveraging both classical and innovative methodologies, our work evidenced clear links between violence against women and engrained attitudes of disrespect and gender inequality in adults. This shed new light on the importance of primary prevention - stopping these attitudes at the start, among young people.
Our work informed an ambitious, population-level, and ongoing, communications intervention. Adults were challenged to recognise when they make excuses for disrespectful behaviour, normalising it as part of growing up and the impact that has on young people.
Instead, they were encouraged to have conversations about respect and gender equality, role model positive behaviours, and set a new standard for what is, and isn’t, acceptable.
The communications intervention has improved population-level attitudes relating to women, with a larger proportion of influencers now disagreeing that ‘women often bring disrespect on themselves’ and that they need to ‘toughen up’.
The latest phase of the campaign resulted in two thirds of recognisers claiming to have taken action as a result, and nearly one in four indicating they had a conversation with a young person about how to treat the opposite sex with respect.
Visit the Australian Government’s site for more on our work and its impact: https://www.respect.gov.au/
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