In Australia one in three women over the age of 15 will experience physical assault and one in five will experience sexual assault(1).
Think about the women in your life, your circle of friends, your daughters, sisters, mother and the women in your workplace and divide that number by three. That is how many women you know, personally, who will be the victims of violence.
In Victoria, male intimate partner violence is found to be the leading contributor to death, disability and illness for women aged 15 to 44 years2.
Given the statistics, violence against women – be it physical, sexual, emotional abuse – is all too common.
But violence against women is preventable and there have been positive changes that challenge attitudes and behaviours which excuse or condone violence against women and their children.
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said the evidence from Australia and abroad gives us hope for working towards a future which is free from violence.
"Research shows that many of the causes of violence against women can be eliminated. We have found that one of the most important themes for action is promoting equal and respectful relationships between men and women.
"If the imbalance of power between men and women is addressed then the evidence suggests that attitudes and behaviours will change, leading to decreased violence against women.
"VicHealth is currently working with communities and governments to prevent violence against women before it ever happens," said Ms Rechter.
For a decade VicHealth has been working on building the evidence base and the case for primary prevention. Drawing from our longstanding commitment to research, policy and partnership VicHealth is piloting an Australia-first program, Generating Equality and Respect.
In partnership with Monash City Council and MonashLink Community Health Services, VicHealth's Generating Equality And Respect program will deliver tried and tested primary prevention programs in Melbourne's south-east over a three-year period. This approach effectively 'saturates' this community with interventions and activities that address the root causes of violence against women.
Monash Mayor Geoff Lake said the City of Monash is proud to be a Generating Equality And Respect program leader.
"The City of Monash is pleased to take the lead as the first council in Australia to introduce a program of this kind for preventing violence against women. We believe our partnership with VicHealth and MonashLink work will to a more equal, safe and respectful Monash community," said Cr Lake.
MonashLink CEO Gregg Nicholls said Generating Equality And Respect builds on the strong foundations MonashLink has established working with vulnerable communities to provide high-quality counselling and support services where family violence is being experienced.
Since partners commenced the program planning phase in 2012 different activities are being delivered in the community, including:
- Baby Makes 3, a first-time parent program being delivered through Clayton’s Maternal Child Health Services. The program helps couples explore changes in their relationship since the birth of their baby, negotiate parenting responsibilities and maintain equality and respect in their relationship during the transition to parenthood.
- MonashLink Community Health Service and Monash City Council are undergoing organisational culture change to promote respect and gender equality within the workplace, and then extending this into the broader community through the programs and services they deliver.
- A ‘Monash Partners in Prevention Network’ is actively supporting youth practitioners to deliver good practice respectful relationships education and promote equality through their programs and services. Members of the Network include local teachers, police, school nurses, youth services and community organisations.
Other activities, including training and culture change in a male-dominated workplace, will start later in 2014 and 2015.