An integrated approach to reducing violence against women

Department of Social Services

Our three-year public relations strategy for Stop it at the Start, the national campaign to reduce violence against women and their children, helped bring a complex campaign story to life and inspire social change on a national scale.

On average, one woman is killed every week at the hands of a current or former partner[1]. One in three women has been a victim of physical or sexual violence, since the age of 15, from someone they know[2]. This cycle of violence against women starts with disrespect.

The Stop it at the Start campaign sought to reduce violence against women and their children by motivating influencers of young people to challenge disrespectful behaviours that may contribute to violence later in life.

The campaign targets influencers of 10–17 year olds, from parents and family members to teachers, sports coaches, and other community leaders. The aim is to motivate them to recognise and reconcile their own attitudes, and empower them to take action with the tools for change.

Fenton created a strategy using a storytelling methodology to show how adults can unintentionally allow the cycle of violence to continue when they excuse disrespectful behaviours of young people. The strategy is multifaceted, weaving this narrative through the campaign website featuring resources for influencers; media activities creating many voices on the issue; social media engagement sparking ongoing conversations and stakeholder support and activation exemplifying the whole-of-community approach required.

The campaign sparked national discussion on the primary prevention of violence against women and their children. Over 500 media stories have been published across television, print and radio. The campaign website has had over 1,300,000 page views and 68,000 downloads of campaign resources. Organic content facilitated more than half a million conversations on social media, sparking ongoing conversations across the community.

Initial tracking research showed 79 per cent of Australians agree violence against women starts with disrespect, up from 68 per cent before the campaign began. Also, 67 per cent of all influencers saw the campaign, and of those 68 per cent took an action. At a population level, this means almost half of all influencers absorbed the message and took action – by reconsidering the way they behave towards others, talking to a young person about respect, and talking to friends and family about the campaign.

[1] 2015 Australian Institute of Criminology report

[2] 2012 Personal Safety Survey, ABS