Our Watch: National framework focuses on ending violence against women

POWERFUL: Grace Tame was named Tasmanian and Australian of the Year. Picture: Paul Scambler
POWERFUL: Grace Tame was named Tasmanian and Australian of the Year. Picture: Paul Scambler

Although overshadowed by a global pandemic, 2021 has been filled with moments of hope with strong women standing up and saying enough is enough: Grace Tame's powerful Australian of the Year and Press Club speech, the rallying cry of women marching for justice, and Chanel Contos' Teach Us Consent campaigning.

We also celebrated an incredible milestone for Indigenous women's leadership after Yamatji and Noongar woman Senator, Dorinda Cox became the fifth First Nations woman in parliament.

We have also seen moments of progress in our legal and government systems, such as the push for affirmative consent law, inquiries into coercive control and the implementation of some of the Human Right's Respect@Work recommendations.

We have welcomed these as moments of collective action, but they are more than just that, these are milestones that champion women and women's rights, and increase the momentum for gender equality in Australia.

The research shows that in order to keep progressing, we need gender equality to be embedded in government policies, laws, workplaces, and we need to address sexist attitudes and behaviours more broadly.

And we know that this is an area of concern for so many.

To guide how we address the unequal distribution of power, resources and opportunities between men and women, Our Watch has launched its second edition of Change the Story, a national framework for ending violence against women.

Since the first edition was published in 2015, the framework, which was informed by the tireless efforts from many feminist organisations, governments and policy-makers, has laid the foundations for prevention work across the country and has informed the approach taken by all levels of government, workplaces, schools, universities, TAFES, sporting bodies and the media.

The framework has also informed behaviour change campaigns such as Doing Nothing Does Harm, focused on empowering people to call out disrespect towards women and Because Why, which gives parents the tools and resources to raise children free from gender expectations and with limitless possibilities.

And with the second National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children currently being drafted, the Change the story framework will be invaluable in making sure prevention strategies are central to the national approach.

As well as updating the evidence on violence against women, the new edition of Change the storyalso has a greaterfocus on men as perpetrators of this violence. It highlights the critical need to engage men and boys in the solution - including by challenging the harmful forms of masculinity that drive so much violence against women.

The framework makes clear that addressing gender inequality must go hand in hand with work to address other intersecting forms of discrimination - such as racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and colonialism - in order to prevent violence against all women. It also shows how we need all levels of government across the country continuing to improve policies that support gender equality, and a commitment from all Australian workplaces that women will feel safe, valued, and respected when they go to work.

The framework highlights the critical work that schools and universities need to do, to ensure they are supporting children and young people with the knowledge they need to develop respectful and equal relationships. Media also has a significant role to play in prevention too, through challenging sensationalised or stereotyped media coverage and sexist, racist, and other types of discriminatory depictions that contribute to a culture that condones violence against women. When it comes to preventing violence against women, gender equality is at the heart of the solution and the promotion of positive, equal and respectful relationships between women and men, girls and boys must be normalised everywhere we live, work and play.

While there is a lot of work to be done, the strong women who continue to push for social change is the positive sign we all needed as we head into 2022. This new edition of Change the storywill provide the evidence-based guide to support this crucial work, and to make sure women's lives and stories are changed for the better.

Sexual assault and domestic violence hotline: 1800 737 732

  • Patty Kinnersly, CEO of Our Watch.
This story Story must change when it comes to violence against women first appeared on The Canberra Times.