Our work on preventing violence

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"Primary prevention makes preventing violence everyone’s responsibility and asserts that we all have a role to play in changing the culture, structures and attitudes that drive violence against women."

— Our Watch, Putting the prevention of violence against women into practice: how to change the story

The importance of an expert voice in prevention

To be effective, sexual assault prevention programs must be delivered by experts with specific skills, knowledge and training in sexual assault and trauma. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced sexual assault since the age of 18. This means that any given group of participants is likely to include people with experiences of sexual violence.

Groups may also include participants that hold victim blaming attitudes or subscribe to rape myths. This can produce challenges for maintaining group safety and an effective learning environment. Skilled professional can ensure participant safety sand continuous, positive engagement.

Facilitators who lack specific expertise and opportunities for debrief within a formal professional setting can be adversely impacted by the material they deliver.

What is best practice?

- Evidence based and underpinned by a gender analysis

- Culturally sensitive, inclusive and appropriate

- Involving a sexual assault service and delivered by experts with relevant expertise

- Includes information on ethical bystander behaviour

- Developed in consultation with young people and rigorously evaluated

What isn't best practice?

- Programs developed by or delivered by non-experts

- Focus just on laws or biology, while leaving subjects like consent, communication and relationships untouched

- Focus on risk avoidance / punishment avoidance rather than empathy and respect

- Programs which ignore the competencies and skills young people bring to discussions about relationships

- Lack of coherent conceptual approach to program design and stated theory of change.


Our training on prevention

'Sex and Ethics' and 'Sex, Safety and Respect' are a suite of sexual assault prevention programs specifically designed for young people aged 16-25. These programs were researched and created by Moira Carmody, Karen Willis and Kath Albury.

Using a range of learning strategies based on reflection and skills development, the programs lead participants through concepts such as ethical decision making in their interpersonal relationships, understanding other people’s desires and needs, the law, skills in ethical negotiation, ethics and social media, and being an ethical bystander.

All programs are evidence based, delivered by educators who have been specifically trained to deliver sexual violence prevention education in multiple settings including universities and sporting clubs. Our trainers are highly skilled and have extensive backgrounds working as counsellors with sexual assault survivors, and as educators.

Initial funding by the Australian Research Council (2005-2008) resulted in the Sex & Ethics program aimed at promoting ethical, non-violent relationships of young women and men aged 16–25 years.

Since these early beginnings the program has been rolled out across Australia and New Zealand and has been run with a diversity of young people from city and rural areas, of diverse ages, sexualities and cultures. Settings have included youth services, university colleges and with footballers. Further grants from the NZ Ministry of Justice and Australian federal and state governments, have supported the program’s refinement.

Sex, Safety and Respect has been researched and developed with support and financial assistance from The Hunting Ground Australia Project. Sex, Safety and Respect builds on the highly successful and evaluated Sex & Ethics Program, and is contextualised to the tertiary education environment.

Find out more about our prevention training programs: