Australian Government – Department of Social Services Assignment PDF

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Hugh Munro, Kathy O'Donoghue
Source: APG (AUS), Bronze and Best strategic collaboration, 2016
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Australian Government – Department of Social
Services: Violence Against Women: Let's Stop it at the
Start
This case study shows how the Australian Department for Social Services increased awareness and
drove action among citizens by demonstrating how verbal disrespect toward women was intimately
linked to domestic violence.
There is strong evidence that the underlying enabler of sexual and physical violence against
women is attitudes of gender inequality.
The Australian Government's developmental research conducted by TNS9 revealed that before
influencers could be mobilised, they first needed to recognise their own unconscious attitudes and
behaviours (what's known as 'heuristics' or conditioning).
The three heuristics were victim blame, minimisation of harm, and empathy with the male; in order
to move forward, the idea had to resound in society, not as an 'us' and 'them'.
The central tool was a short video demonstrating how everyday phrases encourage disrespect to
grow into violence.
Early results are encouraging: the video has garnered 32m views, the site received 274,500+
visits, and the influencer tools and resources were downloaded 13,845 times.
Background
Violence against women is a national disgrace, and 96% of Australians condemn it.1
If you're an Australian woman aged over 15, violence from an intimate partner is the leading cause of
preventable death, disability and ill-health.2
One-in-three women will experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of someone they know.3
In 2015, 80 women were killed by a current or former partner.4
It's time to break the cycle of violence for good.
Previous efforts have sought to reduce violence by dealing with the most immediate issues: addressing
perpetrators, victims or bystanders.5They help provide women's shelters, and counseling services for both
women and men. It's vitally important work. But the awful truth is that it doesn't actually prevent violence from
growing in the future.
To break the cycle of violence, we needed to take a long-term, preventative approach. One that addresses the
causes of violence before they become an issue.
There is strong evidence that the underlying enabler of sexual and physical violence against women is attitudes
of gender inequality.6
Boys and girls learn these attitudes from the adults that are closest to them – their parents, other family
members, teachers, managers, coaches and community leaders.
Influencers of young Australians are unwittingly enabling future violence.
No adult wants a child to grow up to be a perpetrator or victim of violence.
But the things they say and do, without realising it, are creating violence-enabling attitudes by reinforcing gender
stereotypes and excusing disrespectful behaivour.
As a result, one-in-four boys and girls think it's sometimes ok for a boy to hit a girl.7
There was a disconnect between what we want and what we do – known in behavioural sciences as a Value-
Action Gap.8
We needed to mobilise a unified, community-wide response.
National value-action gap
Value
Weallwant a future free from violence against women.
Action
We'reallunwittingly encouraging future violence to grow.
Communication challenges
In order to close the gap between what we want and what we do The Australian Government's developmental
research conducted by TNS9revealed that before influencers could be mobilised, they first needed recognise
their own unconscious attitudes and behaviours (what's known as 'heuristics' or conditioning).
1.Recognise
Their unconscience conditioning
2.Reconcile
The impact of their own attitdes in continuing the cycle
3.Respond
Change their own behaviour to positively influence young people
Next, influencers needed to reconcile that they were unintentionally continuing a culture of disrespect and
aggression.
They needed to be empowered to change their own behaviour - and respond differently. Not by making
excuses, but taking action and talking to boys about why it's not ok, and reassuring girls they don't have to
accept it as "just part of life".
Getting people to recognise their conditioning is difficult.
It showed that influencers made automatic assumptions when thinking about acts of disrespect and aggression
between boys and girls. They've become so deeply engrained that adults often don't even know they're saying
or doing it.
The three heuristics were:
Blaming the victim
Minimisation of the harm
Empathy with the male
A strategy like this wasn't without its risks.
The strategy would need to place every day Australians at the problem's heart...to redirect the entrenched
mentality of "them" (perpetrators/victims) to "us" (community).
But the universal condemnation of violence against women masks a much more complex situation. When it
comes to the underlying issues of gender equality and disrespect, Australians hold a diverse range of attitudes.
If we weren't able to find a universal trigger to speak close the Value-Action Gap, we'd risk cuing the "nanny
state effect" and being dismissed as "political correctness gone mad".
Value
Weallwant a future free from violence against women.
Wide range of attitudes about gender inequality and disrespect.
Action
We'reallunwittingly encouraging future violence to grow.
A path forward
Diverse attitudes manifest in surprisingly common ways.
What does a progressive parent in favour of gender-equality have in common with a traditionalist teacher who
believes in old-fashioned gender roles?10
They both make excuses like "boys will be boys".11
And they both ask "what'd she do to deserve it?"12
They both say "it's not like he hit her."13
And they both explain "he just does it because he likes you."14
This was the universal truth we needed to rally all Australians against violence.
Insight
While Australians have a broad range of attitudes towards gender equality and disrespect, we all use common
phrases that encourage violence to grow
Creative strategy
Show how the phrases we all use to excuse disrespect are the seeds of future violence.
Stop
Making excuses and encouraging disrespect.
Start
Helping to create a culture of respect.
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