Reflecting on primary prevention of violence against women

Reflecting on primary prevention of violence against women

The public health approach

Inara Walden and Liz Wall

ACSSA Issues No. 19 — July 2014
Reflecting on primary prevention of violence against women

Key messages

The public health approach to preventing violence against women is now a major influence on policy areas in Australia and internationally.

Evidence about what works in prevention is still emerging and is currently quite disparate, due to the diverse nature of programs and settings.

There are challenges in the evaluation of primary prevention work, but a clear understanding and agreement of what is meant by "success" will enable useful evaluation design.

Australia now has a clearly articulated goal to reduce violence against women and their children. The next steps should translate evidence into action and maintain the positivity that is currently driving the unprecedented energy in this sector.

Australia has committed to a public health approach to preventing violence against women, transforming how policy and programming approach this difficult social issue. The aim is to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place by directing policy and strategies towards changing the underlying causes, behaviours and attitudes that lead to the perpetration of violence against women. This Issues paper provides reflections on Australia's efforts in primary prevention of violence against women and offers suggestions for the next steps to continue the momentum.

Authors and Acknowledgements

At the time of writing Inara Walden was a Senior Research Officer at the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse. Liz Wall is a Research Officer at the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault.


This paper was a collaborative work between the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault and the Australian Family and Domestic Violence Clearinghouse.

Australian Family and Domestic Violence Clearinghouse logo

University of New South Wales crest

ACSSA and the AFDVC would like to thank Dr Sue Dyson, Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society at Latrobe University and Dr Lara Fergus, Director of Policy and Evaluation at the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and Their Children for their helpful comments and feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.

Thank you to Isobelle Barrett Meyering, Research Assistant at the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, for her research assistance on this paper.

Publication details

ACSSA Issues
No. 19
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, July 2014.
24 pp.
ISSN: 
1833-7864
ISBN: 
978-1-922038-58-6
Suggested citation:

Walden, I., & Wall, L. (2014). Reflecting on primary prevention of violence against women: The public health approach (ACSSA Issues No. 19). Melbourne: Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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